Roundguard

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Roundguard Game Poster Image
Clever pinball-esque puzzler has a bit of mild combat.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Simple concepts of good and evil run through the comedic dialogue. Players are rewarded for thinking tactically.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The heroes are silent and don't exhibit much personality, but their guides are happy to provide help and humor.

Ease of Play

The controls are simple -- just aim and tap (or click) to launch a hero. But players will need to practice how to use special abilities and take time to understand the rules (explained in helpful tutorials) to achieve success.

Violence & Scariness

The heroes attack a variety of fantasy creatures (ogres, witches, giant spiders, etc.) with swords and magic to deplete their health, but all players see are little ball-shaped warriors bouncing off of pots and monsters as they tumble down the screen. Some enemies turn to skulls once defeated, while others simply close their eyes or disappear. There's no blood or gore.

Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Roundguard is a fantasy-themed puzzle game for Apple Arcade and Windows PCs with pinball-like mechanics. Players launch little ball-shaped fantasy heroes at monsters scattered on a board of pegs and then watch as they bounce down the screen. The heroes are technically attacking enemies with weapons and magic to drain their health, but all players see are flashes of light and puffs of smoke before foes turn into skulls, close their eyes, or disappear. There's no blood or gore. The comedic story is slight, and the heroes don't have much in the way of personality beyond an initial description, but simple concepts of good and evil run through the narrative. Players are rewarded for thinking ahead and tactical planning.

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What's it about?

ROUNDGUARD is a physics-based puzzle game with a fantasy theme. It puts players in control of little ball-shaped heroes adventuring through a series of dungeon rooms filled with monsters and treasures. Players launch their heroes into these rooms from the top of the screen, watching as they bounce around, bursting open pots of gold and doing damage to enemies scattered around playing field. But enemies (and other obstacles) can also do damage to the hero, so the goal is to tactically choose when, where, and how to attack. Each hero has his or her own special abilities -- such being able to slow down time mid-shot and launch in any direction -- and players can earn additional abilities, plus stat-enhancing weapons and armor, as they play. Each run is broken into several acts, and each act consists of multiple rooms, which may include challenging mid-bosses. The ultimate objective is to make it to the end of the final act and achieve the highest possible gold score (scores can be compared on global leader boards), but if your hero's health reaches zero along the way, it's game over. You'll be forced to start over from scratch. But players will gradually unlock various rule-changing relics that can be equipped prior to a run that significantly alter how the game is played.

Is it any good?

Some may be tempted to write this one off as nothing more than a Peggle clone, but there's a lot more to it than that. Roundguard certainly riffs on the same basic idea -- launching balls into obstacle-filled screens and letting physics do the rest, pinball-style -- but it's the details that make the difference. Wonderbelly's game has a terrific comedic vibe thanks to its cartoonish appearance and some clever one-liners inserted between levels. And while Peggle incorporates special powers, the variety of those available in Roundguard is enormous, and they can be switched out mid-run as new, more powerful skills turn up. Plus, play is framed as a run consisting of potentially scores of levels. That means you're not going to get stuck on a specific room that blocks your progress. Granted, the bosses can be tough, and when you fail, you have to start all over again from the beginning, but a little tactical planning goes a long way.

Just as important, Roundguard has been designed without microtransactions of any kind. You'll never run into an obstacle that makes you feel like you need to pay to get past (or be extraordinarily lucky with the game's pinball physics). It's fair. You've been given all the tools necessary to achieve success -- it's just a matter of understanding how and when to use them. That said, figuring stuff out is sometimes a bit more challenging than it needs to be. Quick in-game tutorials explain new concepts and features, but new players are bound to be overwhelmed by all the information being thrown at them. It may take a while to get your bearings and really begin enjoying the action. The important thing, though, is not to go in thinking that this is just Peggle with a dungeon crawling theme. Roundguard is very much its own game, and it's bound to please most anyone looking for a little pinball fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. Each Roundguard run can last anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour, so how do you decide when to take a break?

  • Things tend to go better if you take a moment to consider what you're about to say or do, but has there ever been a moment when you wished you'd stopped to think prior to acting?

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For kids who love puzzles

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