ROCK OF AGES
Xbox 360/XBLA (also on PS3/PSN, PC)
[Insert feeble gag involving the identically-named musical here,
possibly mentioning huge tracts of hair...] Yes Rock of Ages
the game has nothing to do with Rock of Ages the musical.
Duh. But it is fucked... in a good way.
This is mental, and it’s loveable for it. Take lashings of Terry
Gilliam-esque cut-out animation, strap it to a mish-mash of game
mechanisms purloined from Marble Madness, Katamari
Anything, Rampart and every other tower defence thing
ever, and you get a disarming beastie.
It’s a trip (in many ways) through five classic time periods, as you
become Syphilis – we’re sorry, we’ll read that again - Sisyphus, a
Greek mythology king stuck rolling a ball uphill only to have it
roll down again – rinse, repeat. Actually, more precisely you’re his
ball, in what could be described as a third-person roller.
You erect defences involving everything from various levels of
castle-like castley things to delightfully bovine protectors – yep,
you get to fetchez la vache - to hinder your opponent’s
attempts (console or human) at ensmashenating your door and smushing you, whilst you
assail their door aiming to squelch them, usually following
a squealy whiny bitch routine.
Your rollin’ rollin’ rollin experience ain’t no cakewalk, as it
isn’t just opposing battlements that cause grief, but increasingly
confuddling terrain, much of which is scarcely navigable before
memorising repeatedness kicks in.
Interstitials are funny, as is the use of sounds and music. Gaming
bits are seriousnessmenter, and as much as they’re quite uniquely
derivative, frustrations frustrate. We’re not super au fait
with boulder rolling physics, we admit, but these seem about as
controllable as a Volvo with square wheels, screaming “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”
upon yet again plummet doomwards.
A short, sharp, shock of silliness, Rock of Ages does,
appropriately, kinda rock. But it needs more hair.