The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character Review—Ridiculous Name, Ridiculously Fun
There have been some silly titles for Minis, but “The 2D Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character” from developer Dakko Dakko takes the crown as the most ridiculous yet. The cute name belies the hardcore nature of the gameplay, though. With a shorter, slightly confusing name like say, “Rotoc” or “Octopan,” it would have fit in the early ’80s arcades next to Pac-Man and Frogger.
Indeed, it even seems very much inspired by a toy popular in the early ’80s, the Wacky WallWalker. These were small, sticky, rubber octopuses that you would throw against a wall. They would stick, then slowly climb down the wall using their tentacles. They also didn’t taste too bad. But, you could slap that license on this game, and it would fit, perfectly. Incidentally, while Wacky WallWalkers didn’t have an official game, they did have a TV Christmas special, Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls, which sadly is not on YouTube.
The arcade game it actually reminds me of most is Rally-X. In that, you had to navigate an always rapidly moving rally car through a maze, the objective being to collect several flags while avoiding pursuing cars and hazards. And you had to beat a time limit. Most of that applies to this game, except you control an octopus, and you need to collect baby octopuses. The real difference is that the titular Rotating Octopus sticks to the surface of anything he touches, rolling along its edges, and you have no direct way of steering him.
You only have two ways of controlling the cantering cephalopod: the X button, which makes him jump from the surface he’s on, perpendicular to his current direction of travel, and Square, which has him reverse the direction of his rolling. It’s quite tricky to control him at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can send him zipping all over the screen quite impressively. Most of the time. It’s really a game that is hard to master fully.
At least hopefully, because you’ll need to master moving the meandering mollusk as the difficulty level increases dramatically once you finish the first tutorial world. Early on, the only obstacle in completing a level is a time limit, but gradually the game adds enemies—at first a stationary dog, then police and other things that not only move, but can shoot at the itinerant invertebrate. Just what they have against him is not explained. If I saw an octopus spin by, I would grab a camera, not a gun.
There are two modes, Standard and Challenge. In Standard, you pick a world, then progress through ten different stages or levels, and then move onto the next, succeeding world. Each world has a different setting and enemies. The catch here is that you have to play through all ten stages in one session to unlock the next world. The worlds are quite varied in both graphical style and how they play.
Challenge Mode lives up to the name. You need to finish each level in a given time. It rates your completion time as gold, silver, or bronze. This also has a catch in the progression: you need to finish the current challenge with a gold to unlock the next one. I found this more frustrating than challenging, honestly.
Still, in either mode, there is a curious lack of scoring. It seems an odd omission, given that it clearly aims at the old arcade games. Throw in a lack of unlockables, other than additional levels, and it comes off as a somewhat frill-free experience.
I don’t think it’s possible for the graphics to suit the game better. Simplistic, but bright and colorful, and smoothly animated. The music, too, is very fitting, like the old arcade game themes; it’s simple, but it’s something you find yourself humming along to.
It’s a very clever and extremely fun game, but decidedly old-school in progression. Very old-school. By the mid-’80s, it was not uncommon for more difficult games to let you continue where you left off by simply adding another quarter. And of course, high score retention was a must, almost from the beginning, pretty much everything past Pong. Not to mention modern technology has allowed old games that didn’t have features like saving to now have them, as the Data East games from G1M2 attest.
While it’s certainly more challenging this way, I just don’t think it’s a lot of fun to have to constantly replay early stages of a world simply to retry the stages you got stuck on last time. Maybe it wouldn’t be true to its old-school nature. But like it or not, we are not in the ’80s any more. Still, if you are patient or like a challenge, then this game will provide a tremendous amount of fun, just like the arcade games of old.