Dakko Dakko, the studio behind Floating Cloud God Saves the Pilgrims, brings things down to Earth with The HD Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character, a puzzle game involving a cute cephalopod that must traverse a series of levels to save its babies. Much like Floating Cloud God, the gameplay is simple, effective and easy enough to grasp. With levels spanning all sorts of different environments Rotating Octopus Character is a charming adventure that, like Dakko Dakko’s other title, makes for a fine, short term diversion.
As an octopus, the player will be responsible for picking up its numerous brood that have found themselves on dry land. Each stage consists of about ten different levels filled with obstacles to traverse and enemies to avoid. Making the gameplay interesting is the limited control of the octopus. Always on the move, the player can only reverse direction or launch the creature in the direction of a wall, table, parasol, hedge or other environmental object. Spinning around curved objects enables the ability to perform angled jumps, though accurate trajectories can be difficult to perfect. Outside of obstacles, the octopus will need to avoid stationary and moving enemies. Coming in contact with these foes results in an instant kill and the loss of a life (additional lives can be earned by collecting a number of bubbles). Lives, enemies, obstacles, ticking clock, all are mechanics that lend the game genuinely exciting and tense moments of gameplay especially in the later, more advanced stages. They also have the ability to create a decidedly frustrating experience as well.
The biggest bone I have to pick with Rotating Octopus is how it handles checkpointing. Specifically, the lack of it. Each game level consists of about ten different stages that must be completed before moving onto the next level. If you stop playing at any point before completing the level, either by shutting the Vita down (to save battery power) or close the game, you’re forced to start at the beginning of that stage. You can’t simply pick up where you left off outside of putting the machine into sleep mode. Restarting a level from the very beginning can also be caused by burning through your number of lives. Losing progress, especially after a particularly tricky stage, is an unnecessarily harsh penalty to put on the player.
There’s an old school vibe that permeates through The HD Adventures of Rotating Octopus Character. Its simplicity, difficulty and colorful, Japan-inspired visuals are a call back to a bygone era of games. Outside of the main game, a challenge mode opens at the completion of each level, giving the player a chance to rescue additional baby octopuses within a much shorter time limit. As interesting as the game can be on a visual and gameplay level, the penalty for death and quitting a level halfway leaves a glaring blemish on an otherwise stable, brightly colored and good natured game. A stage can only be repeated so many times before the experience gets tedious and I really don’t want to have to play longer than I have to. That said, Rotating Octopus is a much better game than Floating Cloud God because the puzzle-based gameplay is more engaging.