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E3 2011: Rock of Ages hands-on

E3 2011

Sitting through our demonstrations of Catherine and The Cursed Crusade, Atlus seemed dead-set on getting us to try out their upcoming downloadable title, Rock of Ages. Honestly, I had no real interest in the game; I was completely unfamiliar with it, other than the unfortunate title – which is also the name of a well known Broadway musical, and, sounds like a music game. But, Atlus was determined; there I was playing Rock of Ages, and, enjoying myself.

With a 360 controller in-hand, the Atlus team member described Rock of Ages as ‘tower-defense meets Marble Madness.’ With my mind slightly blown, all I was able to muster in response was a simple ‘Wait, what?’ Turned out the premise of the game was actually quite simple: roll your boulder into the opponent’s base repeatedly, until their gate succumbs. In between the moments when you’re manually steering your rock through the level to the enemy’s stronghold, Rock of Ages dumps the player into a top-down view of the level, allowing them to erect towers and other structures to impede the enemy boulder.

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Not really understanding the merits of each structure type, I began building as many catapults and cows as possible. Catapults fire on the incoming rock from great distances, while the cows create rudimentary, humorous blockades that slightly alter incoming trajectories. Though I didn’t get to screw around too much with tower strategies, the levels were reminiscent of Super Monkey Ball and it seemed a well placed nuisances could yield some seriously effective results; for instance, causing the enemy’s rock to fly clear off the stage, thus receiving heavy damage and allowing you extra time for your own offensive.

Rock of Ages is being developed by Ace Team, the same outfit that created the unique first-person brawler, Zeno Clash. Like that game, Rock of Ages has a very distinct direction for its art direction. Citing the ‘Ages’ found in the title, stages are themed after various art movements and periods of history. Characters are depicted in a flat, almost cutout-like manner and animated with bizarre but hilarious results; Rock of Ages is a silly game with a ridiculous premise.

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Hopefully, once Rock of Ages releases, later this summer on both Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, it will find an audience. The quirky nature of this original strategy-hybrid has the potential to win over anyone willing to give it a spin.

Shame about that title though, fitting as it is.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2008. Get in touch on Twitter @_seankelley.

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