I Got A Brand New Pair Of Roller Skates
HIGH It’s basically Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater with guns.
LOW I couldn’t keep myself from playing it.
WTF I wish we were getting a new Pro Skater.
It’s rare to pick up a game and immediately think “oh hell yeah!” after only a few minutes of play. That moment where things click is magical, and I’m happy to report that Rollerdrome is that kind of game.
Developed by Roll7 (creators of the OlliOlli series), Rollerdrome is lethal on-wheels action set in the year 2030. Corporations have taken over life as we know it and the world’s most famous sport is the eponymous Rollerdrome, a deadly game in which combatants must kill opponents in an arena while riding on rollerskates.
Taking clear inspiration from films like Norman Jewison’s Rollerball, the story deals with the rampant dystopia and obvious outcry a sport like this has caused. Rather than watching cutscenes full of exposition, players are instead fed bits of story between gameplay segments. Here, they can explore rooms that clue them in on what’s going on in the world. It’s an interesting and refreshing way to give context while also providing a good break from the combat — although I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting a break from the gameplay here.
Played from a third-person perspective, players are introduced to the mechanics of Rollerdrome via a quick tutorial. Here they learn the basics of moving around arenas on rollerskates and how to pull off tricks. The easiest point of comparison here is the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series, which this work borrows heavily from. Not only is the button layout similar, even the mission structure feels exactly like classic Hawk — not that that it’s a bad thing.
THPS is a classic series that understood how important it was to make the simple act of moving within a game world enjoyable. Rollerdrome uses that template to deliver movement mechanics that are just as satisfying. Pulling off tricks, chaining combos, and just moving around each area is intuitive, which is something that other skating (or adjacent) titles struggle to emulate correctly.
Now, skating is only half of the gameplay here, as each level acts as a small arena. Players have to kill every enemy present while also completing a certain number of challenges before moving on to the next area, such as collecting tokens scattered across the map, or killing a certain enemy while performing a trick. Structured like a tournament, players have to work their way up all the way to the finals, and every few levels introduce new weapon types and new enemies.
Gunplay is as satisfying as the movement, and I was surprised by how well the camera was able to keep up with the action. The default, dual-wielding pistols pack a surprising punch in short bursts, while the unlockable grenade launcher is great for taking out giant mechs. This is paired well with the skating aspect, as performing tricks is the only way to refill ammo (which is shared among every gun), and killing enemies fills health.
Since combat and movement coexist perfectly, Rollerdrome provides a high-octane arcade experience that feels fresh and over-the-top, complemented by a strong sense of style thanks to a gorgeous cel-shaded look that seems inspired by Moebius or ripped from comics like Heavy Metal. The bright colors and retrofuturistic aesthetic give it a unique texture, and the bold titles that appear on the screen before each arena are such a nice touch. The musical score by Electric Dragon also kicks major ass. Seriously, it’s so good that I’m listening to it while writing this review.
Another cool feature included are the assists. Aside from accessibility options like button mapping and subtitle adjustment, there are a few options that let players tweak things like difficulty to their liking. There’s even an option to disable the challenge requirements, allowing players to breeze through the game without having to worry about completing a specific milestone before moving on. The only penalty for using these is that players won’t appear on the leaderboards, though I think it’s a fair trade-off. There are some levels that got tough, and while I didn’t mind the challenge, I did like having the option to make it easier on myself if I chose.
I love Rollerdrome. That “hell yeah” factor hit me early, especially once I saw how it utilized the foundation built by one of my favorite franchises, yet still managed to create its own experience. Its satisfying gunplay and sense of momentum make it one of the finest sports games available, while its art style makes it stand out from the crowd. Roll7’s winning streak of incredible skating games continues.
Disclosures: This game is published by Private Divison and developed by Roll7. It is available on PS4/5 and PC. This copy was obtained via publisher for review and was reviewed on PS5. Approximately 15 hours were spent playing and the game was completed.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M for Violence, Blood, and Strong Language. The game is extremely violent, as characters get shot at with different types of guns and blood is constantly being drawn. Definitely not for kids.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles and visual cues are present. Both subtle size and color can be adjusted, as well as the option for certain important sounds to be accentuated. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The controls can be remapped.
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