Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre Image            Putting in an appearance at E3 2005, the NAMCO developed title showed little enthusiasm for being shoehorned into a Platform game. Hello Kitty is an astoundingly popular franchise – even though ninety-percent of the series’ fans have no idea what the characters actually do, or even who they are. In a very strange move, Xplosiv have picked up the rights to publish the title in the UK – what was once a GameCube exclusive in the US is now available for all three major home consoles here on our shores.

            Clearly, because of the often misguided fanbase, Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue can followElectronic Theatre Image one of two paths in the UK – either it’ll sell like hotcakes, or everyone will ignore it deeming it a “kiddie” title; with which they wouldn’t be too far wrong but, does that necessarily make it a bad game?

            Once again, we see many basic Platform traditions spawned from Super Mario64 making an occurrence – Kitty’s house acts as the HUB from which you can Save your game, select your costume and weapon, view movies, character profiles and music tracks unlocked and enter the Level Selection Screen. Scrolling leftElectronic Theatre Image or right on the Level Selection Screen will allow you to play any Level you have unlocked and, as each Level gives you a score according to your performance, you may wish to replay the occasional Level for which you failed to receive an “A” or “S” rank in order to unlock the few bits you miss on first play.

            The gameplay is inherently basic, yet very solid. The Levels are designed as either simple get-from-one-end-to-the-other linear runs or very inventive arena-based Boss Fights. Even in it’s most simple form Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue’s Level design is almost infallible; with the first two Levels offering an introduction to how the game works while the third tells you that you have now entered a new world – a world full of talking animals, brightly coloured scenery and, erm, aliens in the shape of square and cylindrical blocks. Many Levels provide a refreshing alternative to the straight forward Platforming, such asElectronic Theatre Image pinball-esque alleys for Kitty to run through and a stealth Level based around avoiding rotating search lights. The Boss Fights, however, are invariably original. There are many Platform games released recently that have been confident, but lack that Killer App. – and this is definitely where Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue shines, maybe some of the big boys should turn and take a look at what’s happening with budget-development for their inspiration?

            The combat is well structured with the collision detection being spot-on, however, due to Kitty’s rather slow-paced attacks; button-mashing becomes common place within every attack performed – a little annoying at the best of times. Kitty also has two Special Attacks, restricted by a meter under her health bar, and executed only when having collected the correct amount of Silver Stars from felled enemies. Each of these attacks looks stunning, but invariably changes the current section of combat-based gameplay from challenging, to finished, with a simple tap of the X Button.

            A couple of unusual twists to the traditional Platform formula have been included, but feel short of being fully exploited. Firstly, certain Levels will allow you to select a Partner to take on your travels. At no point can you take control of your partner, however, each character has a unique ability (further characters become available once having found them within the early Levels). In addition to this characters can be Levelled-Up by finding the specific hidden icons within the Levels. The other unique element is in that of the Electronic Theatre ImageCoin-collecting. Yes, I heard you, practically every Platform game ever developed has you collecting Coins or Rings or angry green hippos for some purpose – but in Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue, each Coin has a dual use. Not only can you use your amassed Coinage in-game for health power-ups etc., but also at the HUB; the same collection is used for buying character profiles, movies and music – giving you the often taxing decision of either saving your Coins for the obviously essential unlockables, or using them to restore those vital two pieces of health you’re probably going to need to fend off the thirty-odd enemies awaiting your entrance in the next room.

            Graphically, Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue puts in more effort than any other title released prior with a sub-£30 price-tag. Every character is solid and well animated, the Levels are bright and colourful, interesting and well detailed and the special effects are often astounding. The real-time lighting to, is truly unbelievable for such a sedate release – often comparable to the GameCube’s stunning remake, Resident Evil – the title heralded for such effects and still the benchmark for titles to attempt to surpass some three years after release. All of these graphical touches seem to be compiled with relative ease – the low polygon count leaving room for some ripping effects – which only makes you wonder why many AAA titles have a hard job of displaying any kind of competing effects, but is still hindered drastically by loading times that are just plainly inexcusable on the GameCube.

            Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue accomplishes exactly what it set out to do – a competent platformer with a couple of fresh ideas. Visually the game sparkles and the variety in the gameplay will keep you hooked until the end – which is a major downfall for the title; it’s length. Ranking-in with under Electronic Theatre Imagefive hours of gameplay for the average gamer, Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue let’s itself down by offering a competently created world to rampage in, then drawing itself to a close before climaxing. With all the little niggles competing with the well-received aspects of the title, it’s both hard to knock and hard to recommend; but Platform, Hello Kitty, or fans of the games industry will find themselves a well presented taster of the Hello Kitty world, with high-hopes for a sequel. However, the non-appearance of Choco Cat is just plainly unforgivable.

 

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