Side-scrollers are a throwback that keep getting included into modern games. When you can loop backgrounds, it really saves on effort. But with Rolling Gunner, it gives a good mount of modernity to make it worth while.
The year is 2061 and the (terribly named) Busterium is now the ruling energy source, making the world running on clean energy overnight. Everything seems great until the computer controlling it goes berserk, and somehow you are left fighting all of these now dangerous machines. And by fight we mean you are in a plane mech suit called the Rolling Gunner. It's not the most original story, and some words hey use get under your skin, but it does the trick.
Controls on the Nintendo Switch were not bad. I mean, this is a side-scrolling shmup. You hit a few buttons and toggle a bit. There are a few moments of complicated moving around, but generally it' pretty smooth.
The graphics look straight out of the 3DS, or at times, the Game Boy Advance. Most of the time you're avoiding beams or balls of energy, and that isn't so bad. But the backgrounds are...oof. A few times you were flying over cities, and it seriously looked like one of those plane-scroller toys from the 1960's, where you move the background and it looks like you're flying. Some cities are barely rendered. Oh, and some places don't have backgrounds at all. And the ships varied between “Real looking” to “Not remotely convincing”. It was kind a disappointment.
Rolling Gunner somewhat redeems itself in game play. It may be a side-scroller, but it's challenging. You have to maneuver your ship avoiding endless energy, and you need to be on high alert. Sometimes you need to chip shots in when you can. And other times there are no patterns in how an enemy ship fights – and that is real fun.
Sound and music are pretty damn good. The music is so 80's and synth, but with a few modern notes. It feels endless, and you never want it to stop.
Sound effects are fine, too, with the standard assortment of fight sounds you'd probably expect. It's the music, though, that keeps you going. It helps transport you into the game more than anything.
The frame rate was fine. There are no real hangups on the Switch. No lag either, but there was a glitch here and there. It was mostly object clipping errors, or energy balls not disappearing after hitting immediately. That sort of thing.
Rolling Gunner left a lot to be desired. Graphics were definitely skimped on. But good music paired with addicting and fun and challenging gameplay redeemed it. It's mostly old school, but gives challenges for modern gamers too. It's at least worth a try.
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.