Remember the scene in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade where Indy and the villain have to choose which cup was the Holy Grail? The villain chose the shiniest, most decorated cup because he felt that that cup would be best suited for the cup of the Messiah. Those who saw the movie know what happened to him; he aged into dust. Indy knew what was up. Being the thinking man, he knew that Jesus wasn’t a king in the literal sense. Jesus was a carpenter, so Indy chose the pauper’s cup. And he chose wisely.
Finding a good game at E3 is hard. Just like the chalices that Indy and his nemesis had to look through, they begin to look the same after a long day. Thankfully, a simple game like Focus Home Interactive’s Rotastic can really stand out in one’s mind after a grueling day at E3. And when it comes to gaming, simplicity can be next to divinity.
Beneath the simple (yet charming) art design, there’s lies an even simpler gameplay mechanic. Rotastic is so simple that you only need one button to play it. The screen contains a few pegs, and hitting that button causes your character to throw the rope and spin around the peg in a circle. Releasing the button causes your character to release the rope, launching him at a tangent to the circle where he’ll be under gravity’s influence until he grabs onto another peg. The challenge lies in the timing, as letting go of pegs and grabbing onto pegs to ensure that your character goes on your intended trajectory requires precision.
Swinging from peg-to-peg, it’s your task to collect all of the jewels or destroy all of the blocks in the stage. It’s also possible to gain some extra points by doing certain tricks like making a figure-eight or an oval around two pegs. Bonus points are also awarded for catching jewels after you’ve bounced off a wall.
Variety is not lost on simplicity. There’s a multiplayer component that pits players against one another in jewel-collecting contests and death matches. Death matches bring mayhem to the party when up to four players (or bots) go at it, ripping through each other’s ropes in the hopes of sending them to their demise. Make sure you find a few pals because the bots seemed to be a little too good for me (it was a bloodbath).
Finding a truly great game at E3 can sometimes be very similar to the end of The Last Crusade. You’re presented with a multitude of games. They’re all encased in expensive booths, lined with branding and studded with statues of videogame characters. During the last day of this year’s E3, I had almost given up on finding something wonderful — that is, until I found Rotastic curled up somewhere in the outskirts of the South Hall.
Rotastic was simple on multiple levels: in design, gameplay, and even booth. These all worked out because it was easy to pick up and fall in love with. The best thing was that no one was there to kick me off the console because the other attendees were all lined up somewhere else. While no one looked, I selfishly spent 15-20 precious E3-minutes with Rotastic. And I’d do it again if I could.
Rotastic swings onto XBLA this September, and it will also be available on PSN in January 2012.