A Game Lacking The Heart Of The Show
PAW Patrol: On A Roll has all the ingredients to be a really engaging, fun platformer for kids. With bright, vibrant visuals and a faithful recreation of the pups from the TV show, On A Roll nails the aesthetic of the show perfectly. Unfortunately, repetitive gameplay, a distinct lack of voice work for any of the characters along with an original score missing the catchy theme song from the show holds this back from being anything but a shallow, emotionless tie-in to the show. For £30, the game doesn’t do anything particularly original or engaging that free to play games haven’t done better (minus the obvious omissions of microtransactions) making On A Roll a game that’s difficult to recommend to parents and children alike given the asking price.
The levels are simplistic to navigate but aesthetically pleasing
The game begins with a brief cutscene, introducing the pups as they race to Lookout Tower for a briefing by Ryder, who happens to be the only fully voiced cast member here. What follows are 16 different missions that see you take control of a set number of pups, usually 2 during a single mission, as you traverse across various iconic areas in platforming sections to complete the mission given. These range from repairing a bridge to save turtles through to rescuing ducklings stuck in a pond. During the way you’ll come across a series of obstacles which require a specific button press after listening to a hint from Ryder to get past the situation. Whether it be using a special ability only that pup can perform or calling for assistance from another pup, these little mini-games help break up the simplistic platforming and allow for some much needed variety in the gameplay. Expect to take to the depths of the sea with Zuma and into the clouds with Skye while the rest of the pups boast their own little mini-games including shape matching and x-ray vision.
Platforming sections are generally well designed for under fives
Each level features 200 pup treats to collect as well as 5 golden paw badges that give an added bonus of collecting a special picture at the end once you’ve saved the day. This certainly helps incentive kids to explore every nook and cranny of the levels with little danger of dying or finding areas you’re unable to progress on from. In that respect, On A Roll is best suited to those under 6. While my 4 year old daughter had a blast playing through the majority of the levels, my 7 year old Minecraft-loving son did find the levels too simplistic and grew bored quickly. With each of the levels acting as stand-alone missions, there’s little to tie each of these together beyond the promise of playing as each of the pups.
This is a real problem with On A Roll along with its steep price tag of £30. With 16 levels taking anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes and a profound lack of replayability, there just isn’t enough content here to justify the asking price. All the missions are disjointed with each following a similar pattern of platforming across different landscapes with no obstacles or risk of losing a life. Despite the beautiful aesthetic, there isn’t anything here to differentiate the game from the plethora of other free to play titles out there. With an all-star cast from the show providing voice work, an over arcing story to tie each of the levels together and a bit more excitement and danger in the levels, PAW Patrol: On A Roll could be a really enjoyable platformer to get into.
Each pup has a special ability that helps break up the monotony of the platforming
Part of what makes the television show so appealing to kids, along with the bright visuals, are the distinct personalities for each of the pups and the overall themes of teamwork and diversity. With no voice acting for any of the characters except Ryder, the game feels shallow and lacks the charm the show has in abundance. The catchy theme song isn’t here either so pups shoot down the slide to an original song and the repetitive animations during this segment lack any sort of passion. Those expecting charismatic bursts of “Chase Is On The Case!” and “Rubble On The Double!” are sure to be left disappointed here. Other notable exceptions include the Paw Patroller and Alex, although the latter is arguably better left as an omission from the game.
A lack of voice acting in sections like this are a disappointing omission from the game
It’s difficult to recommend On A Roll to anyone other than die-hard PAW Patrol fans, and even then the game doesn’t quite do enough to justify the asking price. There isn’t anything here to separate the game from hundreds of other free-to-play games on the market that have similar mechanics. The lack of voice acting and licenced music from the show makes On A Roll feel more like a clone than an actual authentic tie-in to the show too. All of this is made all the more frustrating because aesthetically at least, the game perfectly captures the bright visuals of the show and the look of each of the pups. With a bit more polish and some thought put into this one, On A Roll could be a faithful love letter to the show but unfortunately it fails to rise above the disappointing bar it sets for itself.
Verdict - 3.5/10