PLATFORM: Xbox Live Arcade, PC
PRICE: 800 Points ($10)
ESRB RATING: E
DEVELOPER: SpiderMonk Entertainment
PUBLISHER: SouthPeak Interactive


Get those disgusting thoughts out of your head, people. Roogoo has nothing to do with the product of Kangaroo mating rituals. No, instead it’s a pretty unique puzzle game wrapped up in Katamari-style way-too-cute graphics.

THE PITCH

There’s some story here about meteors and stars and aliens trying to stop them, but it’s all disposable and easily skipable. You won’t miss anything, and the last thing this game needs is more cuteness. This game is all about the tricky puzzles.

THE PLAY

It really is deceptively simple. You’re trying to get various shapes (squares, triangles, stars, etc.) through a group of discs that rotate. You use the left and right bumpers on the controller to spin the ring to line the blocks up with the holes, much like you did on toys when you were a kid.



Square peg into square hole. Can’t get much more simple than that, right?

Well, while the first few levels won’t give you much trouble, the game does a fantastic job of throwing new obstacles and tricks your way almost every level. You’ve got to line up quite a few blocks to make it through some of the later discs, and there’s even enemies that get in your way, such as little “Meemoos” who have to be smashed by speeding your block up with the A button, and butterflies and bats which grab your pieces and carry them up to previous rings, forcing you to play the game backwards.

In fact, the game gets downright brutal on the later stages, requiring some incredibly fast reflexes to line the holes up in time. The worst are the “Bursting” levels which throw pieces at you without a pause and require you to work completely on reflex. Think about it too hard and you’re dead.

It’s the perfect kind of puzzle game, the one that’s easy to get into and figure the mechanics of, but difficult enough to give puzzle experts trouble.

THE PRESENTATION

Despite a strangely lengthy initial loading time, this is a slick little game. The graphics, while disgustingly cute and bright and cheery, are pretty nice and change up with each set of levels as you get closer to the Earth’s core, getting darker and darker.



The music, however, is incredibly repetitive and mind-numbing. If you leave the game on the main menu for more than a couple minutes you’re going to go on a killing spree. Prevent this by loading up some cds of your own or streaming it from your computer… I found that RJD2 works very well.

THE REPLAY

There’s a couple of  multiplayer modes that use the same levels from the single player game. One alternates up to four players for each ring, allowing you all to get in on the action, and the other is a race between two players which can be played on one console or also on Xbox Live.

But good luck finding a game online. I created a match and left it on for an hour while I did other things and never had someone come into the game. The game doesn’t appear to be selling that well, which is a shame, because it’s definitely more original than more of the Xbox Live Arcade titles.

It will take you  a while to get through all of the 45 levels in the game, and there’s an achievement to be gained for beating the par time on each level that will definitely keep you playing for hours and hours. It’s pretty unforgiving on the later levels and will require lots of skill simply to pass to the next.



THE VERDICT

A puzzle game that doesn’t deserve being looked over. It is hard to justify paying 10 dollars for another XBLA game these days, but if you’re sick of Tetris-style block clearing puzzles try this one out for something new. Don’t let the unremarkable demo dissuade you from giving this a chance.

8.0 out of 10