The latest title to make the jump from PlayStation Minis to budget PlayStation Vita release, The HD Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character has a lot to live up to given its unusual and quirky name – but it doesn’t quite pull it off.
In a hellish alternate universe where sea life has claimed the land, our titular octopus must rescue its fellow octopi from the evil threat of, well, something. By its very nature, the spinning cephalopod sticks to the environment, which is presented from a bird's-eye perspective.
Gameplay here is incredibly simplistic, with only two buttons ever used. Square will change the direction of the spin and X will make ROC (Rotating Octopus Character) leap across the level, sticking to whatever it comes into contact with, before spinning around it. Sadly, the leaping mechanics leave a lot to be desired, as it’s very hard to judge your trajectory if you're launching from a curved object.
There are two game modes to choose from: standard and challenge. Regardless of the option that you select, the game is split into ‘worlds’. Each world is comprised of ten stages and features a different theme – from the Egyptian Nile to an English high street complete with red double-decker busses. The levels get more complex as you progress, with initially open areas making way for moving objects that ROC may latch onto unintentionally.
In the vanilla mode, ROC is tasked with collecting a quota of his buddies, as is indicated by a number of octopi outlines in the corner of the screen that fill in as you go. Each stage begins with a generous time limit and a number of octopi available for saving, but only once these are captured will more appear. Some levels feature antagonists including bulldogs and flame monsters that, if bumped into, will cause you to lose a life, forcing you to restart the stage. Thankfully, most levels contain blue orbs that will reward you with an extra life if twenty are collected – although there’s no HUD to track how close you are.
Unfortunately, once you’ve lost all of your hearts, you’ll have to restart the entire world from scratch, which can be very frustrating – particularly given the awkward nature of ROC’s jump mechanics that can result in many cheap deaths. It’s bad enough having to restart a hazard-infested level when close to collecting all of the octopi, but restarting a world is doubly irritating and often resulted in us having to take a ‘time out’.
Mercifully these issues don’t persist in challenge mode, which features the same levels from the core option, but with a harsher time limit and the emphasis on restarting entire worlds removed. The saveable octopi are all present and accounted for from the start, so you know exactly where you need to go, and the faster that you catch ‘em all, the more likely you are to earn a gold star – although simply completing a stage is enough to unlock the next one, which can be played at any time.
Should you finish fast enough, you’ll make it onto the newly introduced online leaderboards, although our name was strangely absent when we checked, despite us netting a number of times that should’ve seen us earn a place.
The HD Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. Its quirky name, visuals, and music are a joy to behold, but that was already the case with the original. The standard option can be incredibly frustrating, but the challenge mode does at least take some strides to redeem it. However, there are plenty of Vita games that are far more deserving of your attention.