Shiuming Lai goes bubble bouncing and popping, for lack of a better description...


[Image: Roger bubble!]A decade-old former shareware game written in GFA BASIC can't be all that good, right? Not so this little platform romp by French coder Tobe, recently re-released for free and already on its way to SuperFly-like cult status. Now I've stopped playing it long enough to write something about it, here's the scoop: you run around jumping, collecting shiny things and avoiding spiky things. Typical platform fodder? Yes, but there's a twist to the way in which it's done, especially with regard to the travelling upwards bit. More of that later. It's a whole game based on a bonus level in an even older game called Cool Spot, apparently. What I can say is that I picked it up in about two minutes, and I mildly resent having to put it down to write this.

[Screen-shot: Roger title screen]

Forget any kind of story or background, there isn't any. The very basic mechanics of the game are similar to pinball, in that if you don't keep up your control of the game, the object you control (in this case a little character that looks remarkably like a ball) falls to the bottom of the playfield. To defy gravity you have to jump onto the bubbles scattered around, causing them to burst, but they become replenished after a few seconds. That way, if you find yourself missing a bubble on your upward travel and suddenly falling back down, you can be sure there will be bubbles below to bounce you back up. They're strategically arranged so you can easily shoot to the top and from side to side, collecting those aforementioned shiny things as well as money and time credits to prolong the countdown timer.

The bubbles and their one-way action also make for some potential little brain teasers on the way, like bonus items buried beneath bubbles, so you have to somehow approach from below, sometimes having to bounce diagonally to reach the desired item.

[Image: Roger]

I wouldn't go as far as to say it has a great physics engine, but the motion and dynamics just feel right, it's hugely satisfying to bounce between the bubbles in rapid succession like a chain reaction. This makes just playing the game like driving for fun (or maybe more like trampolining?), though there are some game objectives as well.

[Screen-shot: Roger level 1]

[Image: More bubbles and spiky things)

Graphically, everything is nicely presented, nothing Earth-shattering. The full-screen scrolling is quite fast and variable speed to give a real sense of acceleration and deceleration, though the frame updates look a little coarse by STE standards, and the screens don't look very colourful. Given the limitations of programming such a game in BASIC, I'm glad that priority was given to the movement and control response, rather than compromising that by trying to push lots of colour or make it scroll smoothly.

At times, the blandness of the backgrounds slightly hinders the game when some more imaginative design would have made helped navigation. Good thing none of the levels is so large so as to cause lost sheep syndrome, the pace always keeps you on your toes.

[Screen-shots: Levels 2 and 3]

Backing up the visuals is a technically competent if not particularly catchy tune, though one has to bear in mind the chap was only 14 years old when he wrote it, using fat humming bass and razor-sharp synth lead sounds. Frankly, it wipes the floor with many a commercial blip-blop trash effort of the era and shows what the ST can really do. Sound effects are limited to short samples of bubble popping noises, funny squeaks from Roger himself, and a cartoon-like spring sound (which, when running under Steem, doesn't play until he lands - though I haven't checked this on the latest version yet).

Overall, this is a star find, thoroughly enjoyable despite little niggles. Download it now and prepare to lose a couple of hours in your first session. After that, set an alarm clock to remind you to eat and wash - forget about sleeping. We'll be playing this one at JagFest UK for sure. Did I mention it was written in GFA BASIC?







Atari STE, 1 MB minimum




  • Runs from hard disk
  • Strong "One more go" factor


  • Throws a wobbly if started from wrong resolution



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MyAtari magazine - Review #2, April 2004

Copyright 2004 MyAtari magazine