Rollers of the Realm: An RPG atop a different table

November 18, 2014


I found myself constantly surprised by Rollers of the Realm. Phantom Compass has managed to blend pinball gameplay with RPG mechanics in the absolute best way. There’s no denying that Rollers is a digital game, and there is no effort put into making it a simulacrum of a real pinball table. Physical pinball is great, but sometimes it’s nice to use electronic platforms for more, and that’s exactly what Phantom Compass has done here.

From the outset, Rollers of the Realm sets itself apart. You’ll begin your adventure as the rogue, and the first thing you’re taught is how to use her active ability to bring her dog into the fray. Pressing a button causes a cream-colored ball representing the dog (in contrast to the rogue’s copper hue) to enter the playfield. Every time you’re playing as the rogue and have enough mana, you can decide to unleash a two-ball multiball. It’s fun, it fits the medieval fantasy theme and it works in conjunction with the story.


As the story progresses, more characters will join your adventuring party, and each has a specific role to fill. The healer can revive balls that you’ve allowed to fall between the main flippers, the knight can pop-up a second chance shield and the hunter has a ranged attack making combat stages much simpler to take on. Characters are unique on the play field; you’ll never forget who you’re using. The ranger is green to match his clothes, and the healer is white as she casts white magic to revive your fallen party members. The knight is coated in silver armor, moves slower and hits harder than the others. There are other characters to be purchased between stages like the monk, the barmaid and the farmer, and each comes equipped with their own special powers. The farmer, for example, is great at breaking wooden obstacles since he carries an axe, but doesn’t fare well against armored enemies like the Baron’s militia men.

Play fields are often comprised of multiple tiers, and you’ll find yourself seeking out ramps to move from one part to another. Launching off a ramp can lead to your ball entering an ancient tomb or falling in the river can sweep you up toward your objective. All of the traditional pinball elements are here: flippers, bumpers, launch plungers and pop-up targets, but alongside them are moving characters to fight, health bars to show your progress and cutscenes to advance the plot. Character art and voice acting are both good; I wasn’t honestly expecting a fully-voiced cast, but I love the choices made. The rogue and hunter are especially good, and everybody else sounds appropriate. I believe them all, and I know who is talking even if I don’t look at the character portrait.


Rollers of the Realm isn’t for everybody, though. Despite marrying two disparate genres together, it doesn’t really excel at either of them. The pinball is simplistic compared to something like The Pinball Arcade for traditionalists or Pinball FX 2 for the fanciful, and the RPG mechanics are light enough that you’ll never pick up Rollers when what you really want is Shadowrun Returns. I don’t think it would be possible to lean harder on one without ruining the other, but be warned that Rollers is really neither because it is a little bit of both.

Stages are short; most can be completed in under 15 minutes. Still, seeking out hidden treasures is fun, replaying prior levels can yield additional gold to be used at the shop and the variety of characters means that each stage can be different. I take the hunter with me everywhere because I enjoy his passive ranged attack, while others might prefer to take the knight, buy a monk from the port and rely more on heavy melee for their fights. Regardless of your play style, Rollers of the Realm can and does accomodate, and it’s worth a play for its distinctiveness alone.

Pros: Good character variety, interesting passive and active abilities, good art and voice work
Cons: Not enough of a sim for hardcore pinball fans, not deep enough for hardcore RPG fans

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.