Words: Paul Walker-Emig
Your intuition immediately tells you that the bizarre concept of Roundabout shouldn’t work. You control a constantly rotating limo that you must intricately navigate around a city as you ferry passengers to their destinations as quickly as possible. It’s a bit like playing an isometric Crazy Taxi with a friend constantly knocking your elbow to send you into a spin and make it as difficult as possible. When you first boot it up and find yourself careening into buildings, cars and other objects, exploding every ten seconds, Roundabout feels like a dud. Give yourself time to get your head around how to weave your way past obstacles in your spinning automobile, however, and it reveals itself to be a fun and surprisingly sophisticated arcade game.
Adding to that sense of fun are the live-action cutscenes you get whenever you pick up a new customer, stylised to create a Seventies B-movie feel. We suspect that B-movie style was selected at least in part to excuse the terrible production and voice acting in these scenes, but whether that’s the case or not, Roundabout gets away with it. There’s a sense that you and the developers are both in on the joke, that you both know what they’re doing is a bit crap, and for that reason, the shoddiness of Roundabout’s cutscenes comes off as endearing, rather than annoying.
It is, however, frustrating to see that lack of quality occasionally creep over into the game itself. There were a few instances where we found ourselves just getting annoyed at the game’s infrequent shoddiness. For example, we found ourselves being respawned into situations where we’d instantly die without being able to do anything about it. Fortunately, those moments are rare and shouldn’t be seen as emblematic of a game that’s mechanically sound and well-constructed for the most part.
Indeed, there’s a great deal of satisfaction to be drawn from mastering the act of driving through Roundabout’s colourful world, solving fast-paced spacial puzzles and besting your friend’s times on leaderboards. Add excellent pacing, an off-the-wall story that pitches its silly, fun-loving tone perfectly and plenty of potential for replayability to the formula and Roundabout becomes a game that’s easy to recommend.