How does one alter the dynamics of a game like pinball? Since the 1930s the game hasn't evolved much. A couple bumpers here and there, two flippers on the bottom, and maybe some bonus points areas that are near-impossible to grab. Other than dressing the games with some licensed characters or era-based nostalgia pinball has roughly been the same as it ever was, even in video game form. However the folks over at Phantom Compass have figured out an ingenious way of revamping the arcade staple: by combining it with another game genre. Welcome to Rollers of the Realm, the first-ever pinball RPG.
Rollers of the Realm has you take on the role of various different balls, each with their own abilities. For the demo I was given the chance to try three of them. The first is the rogue, a small but quick lass that is able to fit into small and hard-to-reach places. As the knight you can use your strength to knock down enemies quicker and break away objects blocking an area. Finally there is the mage, who can gain mama quicker for the team so as to evoke bigger attacks.
The demo at E3 had me traversing through the first area of the game. The rogue's dog is taken captive by the Blacksmith's men, and it is up to her, the knight, and the mage to go and save the pup. As you traverse through each area you collect gold and gain knowledge of the world around you. When nothing much is happening in the game you are free to use as many balls as possible, but when enemies appear on-screen that's when you need to be careful with your aiming. When you lose a ball you can only regain it once again when you gain enough mana to summon it back.
As I played Rollers of the Realm the feel of a classic pinball table still felt intact. Even with the PS4 controller in hand as I clicked away to engage the flippers, I couldn't help but feel like I was playing an actual machine. (The rumbling of the controller as the balls hit the bumpers helped to create that authenticity.) When getting to the Blacksmith battle I was then given the chance to free my dog, and then use him to attack the Blacksmith to weaken his stance. Not gonna lie: the fact that I was only the sixth person that entire E3 to actually beat the Blacksmith was quite the ego boost.
So far Rollers of the Realm is looking to be a fantastic nod to the pinball genre, while keeping with the RPG traditions that have been a staple of the gaming industry. With over thirty campaign levels to go through and plenty of powers there will be many a reason why you'll not only come back for more, but also get the urge to check out your local arcade for a classic pinball fix.
Rollers of the Realm is due on PS4, PS Vita, and PC this November.