Roundguard is Peggle the RPG. It is the laziest description I can make but it a very apt one. We all know Peggle is a huge timesink. When you add RPG elements, character building and rogue-lite elements into the mix – Roundguard really brings a fresh spin on was a casual experience. Now it can be as casual or as a maddening as you want it to be.
Roundguard follows the Peggle concept of firing something from the top of the screen to the bottom, hitting various different things on the way down. Roundguard replaces a pinball with a character and instead of notches to hit, you’ll have gold barrels to smash and enemies to kill. Whilst collecting gold is helpful, your main aim to take out all the enemies. Once they are all dealt with, you can bounce out of the level and onto the next one.
Your character starts off as one of three types and they have different play styles. Each one has health points, strength points to give damage and points for special attacks. The warrior can bounce on enemies and give more physical damage whereas the rogue and wizard do less damage that way but can also perform ranged attacks. They are just starter moulds though as you’ll pick up additional skills and attributes through the levels you play. This can alter the path of development the character takes and you can almost mould them into another type of character if you want to. Ultimately it is up to your play style and how accurate you want to be.
One of the keys to your play style is the fact that when you hit an enemy, they hit back. You’ll see all the enemy stats on the right-hand side of the screen and as the game gets harder, choosing who and how to attack because much more strategic. Sure, initially you may start a level bouncing around the screen like a nutter on heat – but as your HP dwindles, you’ll need to reign it in quickly. To help you, armour, weapons and skills unlock at the end of each level and you can choose between upgrading to them or discarding them for gold. This gives you plenty of say in how you develop over time whilst drip-feeding the rewards. Alongside that health potions, MP potions and status effect potions will soon litter the levels too. These can affect both you and the nearby enemies so sometimes you may want to hurt yourself to hurt others around you (that sounds far more profound and sinister than its meant to be).
Gold initially feels like a wasted score counter initially and a by-product of being able to bounce around everywhere but after a few levels, it starts to rear its head as a crucial passive stat. Every 10 levels or so you’ll be given a roulette wheel to spin. It is divided into segments that peel away to reveal bigger prizes to buff your character. What peels the layers away? Gold! This is where the rouge-lite element creeps in as when you die, you’ll get one final spin of the wheel. Your prize then carries over to your future playthroughs. Over time you’ll become more powerful and that helps you progress further, gain more gold, unlock more skills to potentially win and so on.
When I first sat down to play Roundguard I thought it’d only be for 20 minutes and yet nearly 2 hours later I was still going. Then I found myself having a quick spin at breakfast before work. Roundguard strikes a balance that lets you stay casual but also plunge into the randomly generated levels for ages if you want to. I really appreciated that the world map gives clues as to what type of levels you can choose from next too. This can work to your advantage so you don’t run into difficult levels back to back if you can avoid it.
Another thing I really appreciated was the controls. All characters handle the same but they all play accurately. When you have the double jump or the arrow shot equipped, the game takes on a bit of a Towerfall feel as the game zooms into your character and slows down. It is effective in making every move dramatic whilst feeling a little tongue in cheek. Being an RPG there is a story of sorts but it doesn’t take itself seriously and is all the better for it. Characters you don’t choose give banter to you between levels and offer quests for you to complete for additional upgrades. It is cute and sassy.
Frankly, Roundguard caught me off guard! It is a fantastic gem of a game with tons of hidden depth and charm. The only thing missing is a multiplayer brawl arena mode! However, as a single player experience – this is an absolute delight to play. Recommended!