Polyroll (universal) by Spicy Gyro Games is a throwback title to the mid-1990s, what many consider – including myself – to be the golden age of platforming. With tight controls, beautiful pixel art, and fantastic level design, it not only does a great job emulating the classics of the past, but creating a fun, unique adventure in its own right.
The evil kaiser Kiwi has taken all of Polyroll’s friends, and it’s up to players to help him save them, through 28 levels of side-scrolling platforming action. The easiest comparison to make to Polyroll is the original Sonic games, both in the level design and Polyroll’s abilities. Like Sonic, he can gather momentum and defeat enemies with spin attacks – and like the Sonic series, Polyroll features intricate, multi-path level designs with multiple objectives for players to complete.
Polyroll also features some gorgeous 16-bit pixel art, full of detailed backgrounds and vibrant colors to bring each level design a bit of personality. It gives the sprites of the world a unique, very intricate look most platformers wouldn’t bother to achieve. One thing is clear: this game is a love letter to the games we grew up, right down to the art style.
Even the boss battles are reminiscent of 16-bit action games, requiring a bit of patience and logic to figure out the boss’s patterns to defeat him. But Polyroll doesn’t get too caught up in being an homage, adding a few fun touches of its own to give it a unique feel. Instead of collecting something towards a high score, collecting rubies and such in the game adds to a player’s life bar – which gives collecting in each level a completely different type of objective, and allows players to progress at their own pace.
Of course, no platformer review is complete without talking about the game’s controls – a do or die proposition on the touch screen of iPhone and iPad. Thankfully, they are tight and responsive, although the slightly floaty physics of Polyroll’s jumps and movement will take just a tiny bit of adjustment. I never found myself dying from poor response or placement on the screen, however, which is the most important thing.
Any platforming fan – casual or hardcore – can find something to enjoy in Polyroll, especially those of us who grew up blowing dust out of our game cartridges. A must-buy for old-school gaming fans, or those who like their platformers with lots of color.