Version Reviewed: 1.0
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The App Store has its first killer franchise, and it's Rolando. With new gameplay elements and a fresh 2.5 graphics engine, there is really no reason why anyone should not buy Rolando 2.
It seems that an adventurous Rolando has returned from a far off land, but with him he has brought the dreaded Kilgorean flu. He accidently infects the revered sages, and Rolando-land goes into a panic. The only known cure is the fabled Golden Orchid, and just like that the Rolandos are off on a journey to a mysterious island to find the cure. To obtain the Golden Orchid, they'll have to make their way through over 45 levels spread throughout five different worlds. Levels are arranged in a roughly open world layout, so you can choose which level to play next.
To complete levels, you'll have to get the required amount of Rolandos to the exit. Standing in your way are malevolent natives, walls, levers, switches, and more. Some switches can only be activated by the Rolandos, and some platforms and other elements can be moved by you, the omnipotent "Finger." There are a variety of Rolandos with unique abilities to help you reach the exit, and, new in this version, vehicles for the Rolandos. There are heavy Rolandos that sink in water, spikey commando Rolandos that can stick to walls, and the new native Rolandos that can float after consuming chilis. And of course, there are the royal Rolandos. The princess will roll back and forth on her own, and the king and queen are always asleep, so you'll have to use other Rolandos to push them along. In addition to the normal levels, there are bonus levels with only King Rolandos where you can affect gravity 360 degrees.
One huge improvement over the first iteration of the first Rolando is the level design. While the first Rolando was tedious at times, the levels in the sequel are a perfect blend of puzzle and action. The levels play out like puzzles on a huge scale, as you have to approach a level correctly to succeed. In addition, there is a strong dose of action, and levels like the one in which you have to run from a momentous boulder are pure exhilaration. New gameplay elements like vehicles, the floating Rolandos, and arrows that can kill baddies further add to the game.
Each level has three obtainable medals: saving all Rolandos, collecting all crystals, which are spread throughout each level, and finishing under the challenge time. These add significant replayability, as it is quite tough to get all the medals for all the levels, particularly the challenge time. There also a bevy of unlockable achievements. Rolando 2 comes full integrated with ngmoco's Xbox Live-esque Plus+ network, which allows you to directly challenge your friends' scores via push notifications.
Controls, as in the first Rolando, are simple and intuitive. Tilt to roll the Rolandos, and swipe anywhere to jump. To select multiple Rolandos, simply draw a selection box. To deselect or navigate throughout the level, you use two fingers. Considering Rolando 2 is much less annoyingly technically than its predecessor, the controls work much better. The only thing lacking, which should really be a requirement for any games using accelerometer control, is a sensitivity adjustment option. To activate things such as spring launchers, you simply drag with your finger.
The new 2.5D graphics engine is very impressive. Besides the added (half) dimension, the graphics are done in mostly the same style, but the added perspective really adds pizzaz. The in-game music, composed by Mr. Scruff, is really fantastic, and is among the best I've heard from an App Store game. Sound effects are top-notch as well.
Rolando 2 is simply one of the best games available at the App Store. Even at $9.99, you shouldn't even blink an eye before purchasing this truly magnificent gaming experience.