Posted on June 5, 2008,

XBLA Hors D’oeuvres: Roogoo

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Yes, XBLA Hors D’oeurvres are back. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re a weekly feature where I play the latest Xbox Live Arcade game – in trial form – for no more than 10 minutes, and then summarize my impressions of the game based only upon that.

I was set to break my own rule of playing no more than ten minutes of an Arcade game for this here feature. You start off by playing the tutorial, and six minutes in, I had seemingly gotten no closer to the actual game. I didn’t want to write my impressions based on nothing more than the game’s tutorial, but it worked out where the trial actually cut me off a few minutes later — so I guess that’s all they want you to experience with the trial version of Roogoo. Suffice it to say, that’s not a promising thought.

To put it simply, you basically are playing a videogame iteration of that toy you had as a kid where you had to match a shape with its outline and you could push it on through. In Roogoo, that’s the fundamental gameplay mechanic, where you want to push a shape through its respective hole(s) as quickly as possible in order to save the meteors from the evil Meemoo, blah blah blah. Playing this game for its story is like watching Baywatch to become a better lifeguard.

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At no point in the course of my time playing the trial of Roogoo would I consider myself as having fun. Instead, I felt like I was playing something designed for smart five-year-olds; that isn’t to say the game isn’t challenging, but I didn’t find any gratification in getting the shapes through their holes as quickly as possible. And if you don’t get that, what’s the point of playing? That’s like the shooting in an FPS game not being any fun.

Things do get mixed up a bit once enemies and an additional shape are thrown in, but even then, I feel like what I’m doing is a job. Having one simple, fundamental game mechanic be the focus of your game is fine — Rez doesn’t have much to it in that regard, and that’s one of my favorite games of all time. When you find yourself being happy to be done with a level because you just want to be done with it — not because you want to advance and see what’s next — that’s a pretty good indicator that the game you’re playing isn’t very good.

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It could very well be that I was only able to play an early tutorial section in the tutorial. Things could certainly get more exciting later on, but the point of this article is to get the same impression for a game that anyone else would get from downloading and playing the trial. And what I got out of my ten minutes is a strong reassurance that my money would be best spent elsewhere.

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