What constitutes a ridiculously fun time with a side order of bizarre? Rock of Ages II: Bigger & Boulder takes the cake served on a nice platter of “am I high right now or is this reality?” No, we’re not talking about the Def Leppard song (or Tom Cruise movie). I hadn’t played the original, and the trailer didn’t leave me much hope for a good time because come on, who plays with rocks in this day and age, right? Tossing in tower defense elements whetted my gaming appetite, but again, rocks? Really? If I wanted to play with rocks I’d walk into my backyard and start chucking them at a tree while contemplating my life choices.
Even though I questioned the choices that led me to resort to rolling rocks down a hill for fun, like with a lot of new experiences in my life it ended up being way more fun than I gave it credit for. Rolling boulders, ironically, is hard since there are a finesse and skill to accurately smash into the gate of my enemies. That satisfying “crunch” as my boulder would crash against the gate of my enemies is the epitome of childhood glee and destruction of property. It’s kind of like spending hours building a sand castle only to smash it afterward because hey, you can, right?
Steering a boulder is a skill I never thought I’d need in this day and age, but apparently, it’s a necessity now. I won’t claim to have a license in proper boulder driving like the Pilgrims did, but these babies roll for miles at high speeds. There were times I’d frantically slow down just to get around a tight corner before speeding again to damage my enemy’s gate. The camera angles were frustrating from my point of view could be right behind my boulder before swinging rapidly to the right or left when changing directions. This rapid change in views threw off my sense of direction and when I tried to adjust the camera angle my boulder flying would end up flying right off the map. I did mention I’m not a licensed boulder driver, right?
Navigating the maps took skill, but the tower defense elements added that extra “HOLY MOLY THIS IS AWESOME!!” factor Rock of Ages II needed. At first, I just placed traps haphazardly, hoping to slow down the enemy boulder enough to get mine going and pray to the rock gods I didn’t lose the next round. Strategizing wasn’t high on my list of priorities until I started to see how certain traps made use of each map and how they were staggered to have an optimum effect on slowing down a boulder.
The traps are varied, two of my favorites being the sticky cows and springboard trap. The sticky cows are a herd of milkers placed in the rolling path of the boulder and – suprise! – stick to its rocky surface when rolled over. These cows make it harder to control the boulder and are perfect for setting up ambushes to deliver the most damage. The springboard is probably one of the most effective ones I’ve seen so far, launching a boulder into the air off the obstacle course. Knowing where to place traps like this and taking advantage of the terrain were strategies I hadn’t considered.
Heck, I didn’t expect such sophistication from a game whose main premise is literally rolling a rock down a hill. It made me feel like an idiot to see my boulder getting pummeled while my enemies were able to roll right through my defenses liked I’d thrown down a welcome mat for them. Someone bring a cake for my unwanted guests, please?
Rock of Ages II: Bigger and Boulder is a weird experience, but that’s why I love it so much. It’s challenging to the point of being frustrating and ridiculous enough to draw you right back in. Because, come on, who wants to be beaten by a bunch of rolling boulders, right? Strategy is key here and while it’s not my forte, it did teach me to be patient and to take a moment to study the environment before setting up my defenses. It’s fun, it’s wacky, and honestly, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to give some good, old-fashioned rock & roll a chance.