I almost feel like I have to start this review by justifying why I bought it. Very quickly: the friend who introduced me to the sport was around, and I thought it could be funny. Also, the reviews were pretty good, and as Simba said at some point, "You people have too much money". Fair enough. Now that that's out of the way, is the game worth YOUR time and money? Well the fact is, the game may be slightly better than you think it is from looking at its trailer.
Yes, the textures are poor, and the transition between animations make it appear very janky, but the truth is that Roller Derby, fundamentally, seems very well suited for the transition to a video game, and that fact shines through the poor production value of this Wiiware game.
As you may or may not know, Roller Derby pits two teams of rollerskaters against each other. Each team has one "jammer" that starts behind the pack of other skaters. First, each the jammer has to break through the pack in order to become "lead jammer" and have the advantage of being able to call off the "jam" (or round). Then, the jammers start getting points each time they pass a member of the opposing team. In this game, you only play as the jammer, so the role of the other members of the team is a little less clear to me, but obviously the general idea is that your team members will try to help you out, while the opposing team will attempt to slow you down.
Effectively, the game ends up playing like a Mario Kart game, if MK had you going around a track for 10 minutes and pitted you against only one other racer, and you racked up coins by passing other NPCs, so to speak. But maybe the MK comparison comes to my mind mostly because of the different power-ups that help you slow down the other jammer, or protects you from her attacks. Of course, those power-ups aren't part of the real life sport, Frozen Codebase (the developer) simply went for a more arcade-style game, probably a wise decision. That arcade feel is also reflected in some of the levels, with wacky obstacles and shortcuts strewn around the tracks.
As a Wiiware aficionado with admittedly money to burn on games, I do not regret the purchase. The game ended up being fun and feeling like something new. But eventually the one song that loops constantly during the game, the limited number of tracks and the fact that the game is a little too easy (even though I played it on Hard difficulty) diminished my enjoyment, to the point where playing through just one season (about 10 games) was more than enough for me. I won the finals and my reward was the chance to play through a second season, which I am going to pass on. Overall, my $10 gave me a little over 2 hours of enjoyment, which isn't so bad compared to certain other forms of entertainment, but for that price there are so many Wiiware games that offer a better value or are just plain more interesting. The base is solid here, but there isn't anything to make me go back to it.
Ultimately I walk away from this game with the feeling that it was fun while it lasted, and the strange idea that Roller Derby needs to be a mode in the next Mario Kart game.
I was listening to the NWR podcast the other day, and they've talked about how this game has sort of become popular among 'the Roller Derby' community, which is kind of cool in itself. It seems like this game would fill a specific niche on one hand, but it has some pick-up-and-play feel to it for anyone to try.
I wonder if the Whip It movie was the start of an increasing interest in the sport...
I'm pretty sure you (or anyone) wouldn't, that's the thing. I think most people who buy sports games buy them with the idea of playing them with a long time in mind. Playing through seasons, playing online, etc. This game has no staying power at all, BUT it is fun, and I'm sure a much better, more fleshed out Roller Derby game could be made. I doubt it will ever happen, though.
Its multiplayer? I guess you can only play against your friend and not with? That would've been cool. Can you whip people around? Are there character specific signature moves? I loved Rollerjam. What a sweet thing. I'm looking for a specific thing on YouTube right now and I can't find it. Blah. A user christopherlouie has put up all of his old recordings. Awesome.
--Haha, this is good enough. Fast forward to 6:50 and wait, hahahah.
Yup, you can play against someone else in a split screen and no, you can't team up, you each play as a jammer and that's the only position you can play as.
No character-specific moves. You either hit left or right and, after picking up enough stars on the track, you can do some sort of super dash or something, which I've never used. That's pretty much it, apart from the power-ups.
Another thing I failed to mention is that each lap, you can decide which "strategy" your team will adopt: try to whip you, block the other guy, or just generally keep the girls in the other team busy. But I didn't really see much of a difference when choosing different strategies, so I didn't put it in the review.
You can have a team member to whip you: a "waggle" icon appears when you get close to a teammate, so waggle and she's supposed to whip you, but more often than not, it backfired: she's throw you against a wall and you'd end up facing the wrong direction. So I avoided using it.
When I originally saw the trailer on Nintendo channel, I thought it was junk targeted at teen girls, lol. I thought nowadays it was all about rollerhockey.
Then I heard the IGN's Nintendo Voice Chat with the dev, and was surprised that Rollerjam was actually a real sport. It was kind of fascinating to hear the rules. And even more surprising, that the revival actually came from where I live, and yet I'd never heard of it.
I still have no urge to try it though. But I'm curious to find out where they hold these things and to actually see one in real life...
Yeah, it does have pretty good course design (except when it gets too busy and cluttered). And smooth online play, excellent time trial functionality, free DLC, etc. I just hate the item balance so much. And Battle Mode is a joke. And the local multiplayer is packed with compromise, in general.
It's not bad. But I think it might be my least favorite Mario Kart ever. 64 had a godly Battle Mode, at least.
I think Crash Team Racing did pretty well, and that was actually a great clone.
The reason I brought it up in the first place is that I thought Blur was very underappreciated. I have some quibbles with it, but I found the actual versus racing experience to be far better than that of Mario Kart. It's kind of a weird title, though, in terms of positioning.
You say that, but this review inexplicably got over a hundred views really quick when I posted it. I'm not sure what happened there but apparently tons of people are interested in it. That, or someone tried to exploit my page to boost his XP or something...
@Pandareus I think people were more interested as to the WHY? than anything else. I know that's why I clicked, and if it turned out to be something great, kewl. Really, the WHY? factor was what made me more curious than anything. I mean...were you some kind of closet Roller Derby fanatic? You have to admit that would have made for some great reading. ;)