The Peggle RPG that we never thought could happen.
I loved Peggle when it came out back in 2007. But with no new entry in nearly 10 years, I've been looking for something that could fill that pachinko-style void in my heart. Thankfully, developer Wonderbelly Games has responded with Roundguard, out now on the Nintendo Switch. Not only is its Peggle-inspired gameplay strong, but the dungeon-crawling, roguelike RPG aspects make it a truly unique, wonderful experience.
Gameplay has you choosing from three different characters, each with their own different characteristics such as higher HP or mana, different abilities, and so on. It works much like Peggle if it were a role-playing game; the goal is to clear enemies off the board, which you can do by using your special abilities all while avoiding taking damage. If your HP falls to zero, that means the end of your run and you’ll be forced to start all over again.
Meanwhile, each time you clear a map of baddies you’ll be able to choose the next stage you need to clear. Occasionally, you’ll enter a bonus area where you can rack up gold and new items. Toward the end of an act, you’ll face bosses that are pretty easy to clear if you have the right tools and memorize their patterns. Even the final boss isn’t all that difficult once you figure out what to do.
Clearing levels enables you to earn gold and obtain new armor, weapons and magic abilities that help your characters become stronger and more efficient as you get deeper into the run, which lasts three acts. There are also runes you collect that can either help your run or make it more difficult to clear, giving the game some replay value. It takes about 90 minutes to complete a run once you figure things out, so it’s a relatively short experience.
All of this manages to work extremely well. Some of the dynamics feel a little off at times (when I bounced off objects for example, I flew really high off the screen for some reason) but most of the time I was entirely engrossed into what I was playing. Picking the right armor or special ability really made or broke a runthrough.
Roundguard’s presentation isn’t spectacular, but gets the job done. The graphics and layout are colorful and bright, and the game’s wit, mostly seen in cutscenes in between levels, is pretty funny, cute and full of puns. Graphics and audio are perfectly fine, though kind of mundane.
Gameplay is Roundguard’s strongest suit. It manages to combine a number of unique gameplay elements into a cohesive game that works extremely well. Some mechanics aren’t 100 percent perfect, but there’s not much to complain about. It’s a short experience, but Roundguard is a novel idea that was executed very well.