A Great Blend of Action and Puzzle Gameplay
Article by: Peter Kuchnio
RoX is a game which manages to blend the action and puzzle genres to create a very compelling and addictive experience. The game relies on you controlling Thresher through each of RoX's levels, collecting Unids scattered throughout the level while avoiding the various hazards found throughout. What really makes this a lot of fun is that you not only have to create a plan to get through the level, but you also need to have the reflexes and speed to execute that plan.
In RoX you control Thresher, a hedgehog like creature intent on munching down all of the Unids in a RoX level. Once you eat all of the Unids, a portal opens which will transport you to the next level. This is not as easy as it seems, since along the way, Thresher has to avoid a plethora of obstacles, including rocks and Unids falling on his head, bombs, explosions, and in later levels, enemies like spiders and gnats.
Later in the game, Thresher also gets to pick up some cool power-ups like Invincibility, Missles, and Sticky Bombs. Although very cool, it would have been nice to be able to use these more often, especially the bombs and missles.
RoX's presentation is great as well. All of the graphics look good and fit in well with the overall look of the game. The game uses 3D acceleration, so you'll see some cool tricks like lighting and alpha-blending. Another nice touch is that levels will randomly change colour each time you restart it (and on some levels you will be restarting a lot!). The colour changes make sure that you don't get bored looking at the same scenery over and over again. The downside to this effect though is that some of the colour combinations you'll be seeing are sometimes painful on the eyes. A few times I found myself intentionally dying (as easy as pressing Esc to restart) so I could get a better colour scheme. Another minor gripe is some levels restrict your vision with low levels of lighting, which makes it hard to see where you're supposed to go.
I have to mention the game's title and credits screens. They feature a morphing fog effect in the background which just looks really cool.
I have nothing bad to say the game's sound effects and music. The effects are well done and fit in with the game. If you play for a while you'll probably find the game's background music stuck in your head, which is the hallmark of a good music track.
On the whole, level design is quite good as well. The beginning levels are easy enough to get through, although all too soon you'll be given some real headscratchers. With enough thought and trial and error, most levels can be figured out.
Some levels are very, very difficult though, to the point where they are frustrating. For a few, you would have to have known what the level designer was thinking or go through a lot of trial and error. Luckily, these sorts of levels are few and far between. A nice touch in the game though, is you don't have to play the levels in order. So if there is a level that is giving you particular problems, you can skip it and move on.
There is plenty of replay value in this package as well. The game comes with close to 70 levels, which will take you a while to get through. Safrosoft's website also features a whole bunch of additional level packs that you can download and install. The game also comes with a very easy to use game editor. So if you feel so inclined, nothing is stopping you from creating your own level set.
Overall, RoX is a very good game with good gameplay, graphics, sound, and replay value. It is an excellent example of the calibre of game that can be created using Visual Basic.