Rollers of the Realm Plays A Mean Pinball

Phantom Compass attempts to blend the mismatched genres of pinball and roleplaying games. Do they make a skill shot or tilt the table?

The concept of a “Pinball RPG” is something game developers write on a whiteboard during a brainstorm session and quickly erase. I mean, how do you marry the fast-paced action of a pinball game with the epic scale and party system of a roleplaying game? Developer Phantom Compass decided to take a shot at this bizarre concept with Rollers of the Realm and makes it work…sort of.

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Literal Pinball Wizards

Each stage is played on a pinball table with your party represented as different balls. After choosing your party member, you launch them onto the playing field and use your ball to gather mana or gold by hitting specific objects and defeating enemies by smacking into them. Each ball has their own unique abilities both passive and active. Once you’ve gathered enough mana, you can trigger these abilities to do things like summon allies for multiballs or put up a shield to keep your ball from going down the drain.

Phantom Compass absolutely nails it in the pinball department. The pinball controls are absolutely solid and the RPG elements help add a layer of strategy that allow you to approach each “battle” with different strategies. For instance, I loved using The Knight or the Crone to take care of large groups of weaker enemies while busting out The Rogue to pick off stronger enemies from behind with her massive backstab damage.


Pinball fans will likely find themselves loving every stage. Well, except for the last boss stage. That stage can go back to the depths of Hades from which it came.

The stages themselves are extremely fun and very diverse. You’ll find stages that are more straight forward while others are multi-tiered and full of secrets. I found myself frequently coming back to my favorite stages in the campaign and arena modes just so I can play them again. If these were actual tables at my local arcade, I’d go bankrupt sinking quarters into them.

If these were actual tables at my local arcade, I’d go bankrupt sinking quarters into them.

The gameplay provides a strong foundation on which to build the story, but unfortunately that’s where Rollers of the Realm begins to falter.

Where The Balls Have No Name

The story begins with our heroine “The Rogue” having her dog stolen while she tries to help out an old drunk revealed to be “The Knight” (they are never given actual names). The stakes continue to get raised higher and higher until you’re tasked with saving the kingdom.


It is hilarious to watch people have conversations with giant pinballs.

The story is incredibly basic and barely serves as a vehicle to get players through all five chapters. The 4-5 hour campaign also guarantees you’ll feel no attachment to most of the characters and their arcs with the notable exception of The Knight. If you were expecting a strong story to go with your pinball heroics, prepare for disappointment.

Balls Shouldn’t Talk

Though the writing is entirely forgettable, the voice acting is memorable in all the wrong ways. It has been a long time since I heard so many voice actors sound so disinterested in what they were doing. The Crone and the Swordsman in particular may make a few YouTube lists for their absolutely horrible performances. If this was the best effort they could muster, then it may have been better to leave the voice acting out entirely. 

It’s not all auditory trauma, however, as the music is well done and does a great job conveying the atmosphere that the voice acting works so hard to pull you out of.

Do The Numbers Match?

While the game lacks in the RPG category thanks to a bare-bones story and horrendous voice acting, the pinball portion more than makes up for it with its fantastic gameplay and addicting level designs. With the $10 dollar price tag, this is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a solid pinball title with a unique twist. Those looking for even a lukewarm entry in the RPG genre, however, can safely let this one roll on by.

Game Information
Platform: PC (version reviewed), PS4, PS Vita
Genre: Pinball RPG
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 11/18/2014 (PC Worldwide and Sony Americas)
Sony EU Release Date: November 26th
ESRB Rating: T

8
Rollers of the Realm Plays A Mean Pinball
Phantom Compass attempts to blend the mismatched genres of pinball and roleplaying games. Do they make a skill shot or tilt the table?

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Author
WesleyG
I'm a freelance contributor that adores the art and culture of gaming. I'm an indie game enthusiast who loves supporting a game with a small budget and new ideas. I also love pro wrestling, tabletop RPGs, and Cadbury Creme Eggs.