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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Creat Studios
Developed By: Creat Studios
Genre: Puzzle Action
Players: 1-4 (Versus)
Rated: E for Everyone (Comic Mischief)
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Christian Higley

- TerRover played a mean trick on me. First it beguiled me, capturing my imagination with its cute robot player character and striking visuals. TerRoverís worlds are brilliantly naive, each centered around a familiar theme (mechanical, ice, lava, etc.) and built with soft shapes, smooth lines and a cheerful palette of saturated colors. It lulled me into a false sense of serenity with the relaxed, soulful beats of its soundtrack. Each world features unique musical themes, such as the chilly, sharp soundscape of the ice world, or the heavy, slow beats of the lava world. Then I actually started playing the game.

TerRover is not a game for the impatient. Itís a physics-based puzzle/platformer with some of the most sensitive controls Iíve ever felt. Balancing the TerRoverís weight as you drive, jump, roll, slide and lean through the environment is a constant a struggle. Just moving forward can be a chore; too much throttle and the little guy will buck up and do a wheelie, pausing your acceleration just long enough to mess up a critical jump. Successfully navigating the rover across the bumpy, precarious terrain of these various worlds requires a delicate touch, to say the least.

TerRover is an exercise in frustration. I experienced success a lot less frequently than failure. TerRover is, very much, a game of trial and error. There are a lot of deadly obstacles that you donít see coming. There are various abilities to unlock in the form of specific chassis, but thereís no way of knowing beforehand whether one chassis is more suited to a level than another. The levels themselves even have a Metroid-vania quality to them, requiring multiple trips through with various abilities to find every collective bolt, nut (used for unlocking new chassis), or egg (used for unlocking bonus levels). The game marks your deaths with little ghosts. At times, my screen looked like some kind of horrible rover genocide had occurred, as literally tens, if not dozens, of these little revenants littered the screen, mocking me with my many failures.

TerRover is immensely rewarding. Despite the controller-breaking frustration I endured, I pushed on. I pushed on not just out of necessity for the review, but also because I genuinely wanted to. I couldnít let the game beat me. Every death was a lesson; I always felt certain that there was something I was doing wrong. My deaths were my mistakes, not the gameís, and I knew I could do better. When I did, I couldnít help but smile in smug self-satisfaction.

ďTake that, game!Ē

TerRover played a mean trick on me: it made me love it. As a rule, Iím unwaveringly opposed to games of this nature; trial-and-error games, games that punish you with fail-states, games that I perceive as being unfair, games built on arcade-style design philosophies (meant to, theoretically, eat your money and keep you coming back for more). Iíll eagerly stand on a mountain and decry the very existence of these games, their audiences be damned (because theyíre wrong!).

I hate to love TerRover. But it isnít through chance or trickery that the game won me over. TerRover is hard in an old-school way, but itís also very hip to modern design. Itís difficult and punishing, but itís not unapologetic. Checkpoints flow like water; before and after every puzzle, every encounter, every trap, every pit of spikes, thereís a checkpoint. TerRover never forces you to replay long sections of the game, restart levels from scratch, or reload ancient saves. Furthermore, once you learn to appreciate the sensitive controls and manipulate your rover properly, a lot of the frustration fades. I wanted to throw my PS3 into my TV while trying to climb a spiky hill while being bombarded with falling obstacles. I kept falling back down to the bottom, only to try again and again and again and again in vain, like poor Sisyphus rolling that rock up his little hill. It wasnít until I stopped aggressively mashing the accelerator and throwing my weight forward, and loosened up, applied a light touch and took my time, that I finally made it to the top with relative ease.

TerRover is difficult and punishing, its learning curve is steep and you canít help but feel it mocking your failures. But TerRover rewards you for taking the time to learn it. Once you do learn it, something in the back of your brain clicks, and everything about it that you couldnít see while blinded with frustration magically becomes clear. But, truthfully, only the extremely patient need apply.


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