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Developers Mr. Pig and Sertif were handling the pure essence of the late 90's with this one. This was like the sudden resurrection of the Ren & Stimpy show; a speed run through a Nickelodeon slime obstacle course; a junk food fueled gaming marathon with a bean bag chair and a 32" CRT.
There's a glorious level of detail in every inch of this fairly meaty experience. The Microsoft Paint art style transcends its low technical fidelity through heaps of garnish and fun animation work. Character sprites are memorable and often hilarious. Levels writhe with character, almost literally, and almost all 22-24 of them are unique in appearance. And the music accompanying it all is equally as detailed and varied, with a nice mix of classic chip-tune instruments and more modern beats with sampling.
If you have any nostalgia for the heyday of the pizza and X-games world, you'll have a wonderful time even just watching this game.
And under that is a very solid high-speed platformer.
I can't claim a large amount of experience with 2D platformers, as I've always had an odd hangup with them — thankfully I've been getting around that recently — but I know I like Rayman Origins, and the flow of the levels here is reminiscent of that. More... brutal, but similar. I've been told it's like a spiritual succesor to the Wario Land series, and I can easily imagine that with the vibe this game gives off, but I'm entirely unfamiliar with those games.
For the most part Pizza Tower is a smooth experience, and even when it's not "smooth" it's gratifyingly "chunky" with the combat and box breaking. There's also a lot of great variation in the gameplay with the level specific power ups and gimicks. The way they're tailor fit to the context you find them in keeps them from becoming throwaway "nice-to-haves" that you eventually start skipping because you either never get to the "right" time to use it or because collecting it isn't worth going out of your way for.
Doesn't hurt that they're just fun, too.
But sometimes I do feel like there's a bit too much of a conflict between the game encouraging you to go quickly and follow a clear line and it wanting to throw unexpected obstacles at you and have to learn the layout to earn your speed. The result for me was that, for the regular gameplay, there was a lot of whiplash. I also found a few of the control scheme options were a bit frustrating. In particular, a lot of the interactions around wall-climbing and diving.
I also... think the boss fights are too long. 16 hits was a bit past the point of tedium for me.
But overall that wasn't enough to ruin the experience by any stretch. And if you enjoy 2D Sonic, Mega Man, and the like, I wager you'll be much better off than my 3D brainrot crippled self.
So, unless you are particularly averse to platformers or can't understand the appeal of the art style, I would recommend giving this game a go. And if you're the speedrunning crowd, this seems like a very rewarding course to learn.
"Tony Hawk with Guns" is one of those meme concepts that is an immediate sell but your aftertaste depends entirely on the small details of its execution. Rollerdrome, rather surprisingly to me, nailed all of the core parts with polish and distinction. It feels just a bit of a shame there isn't much after that, but I'm certainly glad what's here feels very focused.
It's been a long time since I've played the original Tony Hawk games, so my memory of the details are hazy, but the core player controls in Rollerdrome are at least 80% what a I remember and implemented perhaps even more smoothly than those games. The shooting elements are then grafted on with a more "vehicle combat" style where movement is disjoint from your aim. That combination probably sounds rather intuitive to those familiar with both genres, but I was still worried that on its own that would prove overcomplicated to play, resulting in either a steep learning curve or overly simplistic objectives.
Thankfully, they infused just enough Max Payne into the shooting to make it approachable. Namely, bullet-time on the aiming and a dodge. Even better: a dodge that can trigger super-bullet-time with a damage boost. A nice extra detail that gives it an appropriate, action-sport flavor when used with precision but not demanding it when you're just trying to get back on your feet.
Oh, and you do tricks to reload, briliantly creating a natural rhythm between the two objectives of the game. Shoot someone in the face to get a multiplier, then perform a trick to score points and ready your guns for the next face to shoot. Grinding and wallriding are in, too, which always feels awesome.
Levels consist of skateparks with enemies that spawn in waves to harass you, and they end when you've killed the last one. The cleaner you chain kills and tricks, and the faster you do so, the better your score. The layouts are quite solid and the enemy variety is satisfactory.
Simple, effective, easy enough to do but plenty of room to do better.
There are about 10 levels with gradual increases in complexity, then an "Out For Blood" mode unlocked after the first go-through to bring everything up to the end game standard for replays. Very nice.
I do have a nitpick with the gameplay side, though, which is the "Challenge Objectives" on each level which are tied to progression of the game. For the most part they make sense, and they unlock as soon as you do the thing, so there's no frustration with a run ending prematurely after finally getting a tricky one... but that also makes them feel very arbitrary.
There were a few times where I unlocked very few of them naturally and so had to load back into a level and just cheese a few more without regarding anything else. That'd be fine in some kind of freeplay mode, but it feels like a waste with the semi-directed levels. I think it would have been better to tie progression just to a minimum average score, then have the level challenges be things that had to be done in one run to get either a massive score bonus or "extra" unlockables.
As for the rest, the graphical style of this game is wonderful. I wish I had the vocabulary to describe it properly, but it has such a great 70s-80s Euro-sci-fi-kinda vibe with clean graphic design work and excellent movie-poster rendering.
The soundtrack I'm not sure I would be able to distinguish if I heard it in the wild, save for a few key notes in the main menu theme, but it's still a vibe appropriate bop.
The story is an interesting bit. It's more of a background element, but I like its delivery. There are these fun little first-person exploration bits before each major group of levels where you snoop around a room uncovering notes, interesting objects, and voice lines. No more than 3-5 minutes there then a smooth transition into the level proper when you're ready. It creates a cool gap between the action and the context underlying it, which your mind naturally tries to fill in with speculation for that extra texture to the experience.
So, while it's a fairly small experience and feels like it hasn't reached its full potential, this is a hearty recommendation from me for action game fans or those nostalgic for the classic skateboarding games. It's a very unique experience, but not so "unique" that it's a pain to play. If you're a score chaser, then I imagine you'll really have fun with this.
I will start off by saying that I'm very impressed by what's here, considering that it's a the work of a single core developer, or at least started that way before the "Infinite" release.
Graphically it's certainly a fun title. If you look closely it's easy to spot the rough edges, especially the animations, but the environments and models look cool and the lighting mixed with all of the water everywhere gives the eye plenty of natural enough looking detail to gush over. Basically, it's very shiny, with at least enough substance that you don't care to poke any deeper.
Gameplay is the hit and miss part for me. Some tools and elements feel nice, fluid, impactful. Most are rather easy to stress out. Like I've mentioned with Sekiro, I have a way of playing action games that makes certain character-controllers very... grumpy. If I kept things tame it all worked pretty well and mowing down the grunts and special enemies was a fairly satisfying process.
When I tried to sprint-cancel-power-slash spam while jumping and dodging, then it started get hissy with me and eating my inputs because the input state-machine wasn't quite ready for me, even though the visual feedback said otherwise. The movement also had a tendency to react poorly to mid-air collisions and landing on props, and the relationship between dodging mid-air and inertia was sometimes a bit iffy.
I'm a bit picky on the movement as well, because this was a game with rather short times-to-kill and rather simple enemy engagements, so a lot of my focus was on getting from enemy to enemy as fluidly as I could.
The arsenal you're given is perhaps a bit overkill. Namely, the sword can send out cutting waves with high damage and fairly high range, and with a couple other additional moves you can tack on, the guns are just kind of there most of the time. They feel fine and they're not useless, but I tended to only use them when either I just needed to take a few potshots while waiting for the plentiful exo-energy to regen a bit, or on the rare occasion that an enemy was just too far away.
This would be more of a negative, but the sword is admittedly quite fun to use and this isn't a competitive shooter, so there being superfluous options doesn't matter until the combat is actually boring, in my opinion.
What I will say is that I'm not big on how they implemented the controls for the sword combos. They're probably just fine for most, but I found a few inputs a little counter-productive to the types of movement you'd want to pair them with. i.e. Holding 'E' performs a forward dash attack, while the charge attack (which is ranged) is started by sprinting forward and holding 'E.' So there was a lot of straffing backwards only to dash right back into whatever hazard I was trying to avoid.
Overall, though, I would say the gameplay was fun. Flawed, but in forgivable ways.
I have no idea what was going on with the story, so nothing much to say there. But that's set dressing in a game like this. It sets the mood and has no intention of provoking some kind of deep thought beyond, "Woah, that's kinda wild looking. Guess I'm going here now."
The game is rather short as well. Could be a good thing, though. It executed on all of the interesting ideas it had then left when they had nothing more to give. And if you enjoy the combat more than me, I imagine speed running or upping the difficulty gives a litttle extra playtime. There are no long cinematics to get in the way of that.
So if the previews look neat to you, and you can get it for a price you wouldn't worry about, then I can recommend it. If you're looking for only the highest grade shooters, then leave it for now, but if you want a short burst of action game junk food, this will do it.