148Apps Network Post
Developer: Chillingo
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4, iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

PoPo, the roly-poly panda star of this new game from Chillingo, has a problem. Well, several actually, but the biggest is that he is always hungry. And his diet consists of one thing only. No, not bamboo – ice cream, of course. His other problems revolve around how to get his tummy full without going splat.

Ok so forget realism, this clever and cute new game, which picked up some buzz in early summer at E3, has been released as an HD universal app along with a less expensive iPhone and iPod touch only version. It has all the hallmarks of a hit.

Like other Chillingo smashes, Roll In The Hole features a cute little critter on a mission. The game has 72 levels across four worlda of physics-puzzling with cute clean graphics and attainable goals.

This is an action-puzzler, albeit a somewhat slow moving one. The object is to control PoPo’s roll over a variety of surfaces from bouncy platforms to slippery ice or sticky grass so he can amass three treats per level and jump into the vortex that takes him to the next challenge. As usual, each world has a series of sequentially unlockable levels. Successful completion opens the next, there are three stars to be earned based on how many of the treats are eaten, and a time bonus. The game does allow for endless level skips and restarts, which is good, because it can take some time to get a feel for control-sensitivity. To stop cheats like me from trying to get too far too fast, however, a certain number of stars are also required to enter a new world.

When picking this game up on an iPhone it’s hard to not want to use the non-existent tilt controls. Instead, the controls are touch-based across all versions. Players hold or tap the side of the screen to get PoPo rolling to the right or left.

The current set-up doesn’t allow for much control when PoPo starts rolling at a good clip, however. Part of the challenge is deciding when to steer him the other way; in the end I found the only way to beat most levels is to take it slow. That’s a real frustration factor.

Beyond that, the game shines as a casual puzzler that will appeal to gamers across ages and genders. The graphics are shiny, there is Crystal and Game Center integration and the promise of more levels to come. Roll In The Hole may not usurp Chillingo’s other top puzzlers, but it’s a nice return to their roots that is well worth picking up.


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