I realized just the other day that I didn’t have anything of a roguelike nature in my Switch library. This is obviously an absolute travesty and had to be rectified immediately. I couldn’t possibly go games shopping without bringing you lot with me so here we are. The title we’ll be taking a closer look at is Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon. Is this a title that deserves to be gracing your Switch-controlled screens? Well, that remains to be seen, doesn’t it?
I’m going to start with a little disclaimer here. I use my Switch purely as a handheld. This means that I won’t be looking at aspect ratios or mentioning how it will look on a full screen. My opinion might also be getting colored slightly by the way I’m playing, so please take that into account while you’re reading this review. This being said, any game should still be fun regardless of how you’re experiencing it, so if the core is there we should be fine. In theory, it’s still the same game but smaller, right?
Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon is a game of two halves, for me at least. This is a title that will be fun depending on your expectations going into it and what you look for in a title. As a roguelike fan, I went into this game looking for a procedurally generated experience that was objective-driven. I’ve never been a huge fan of arcade-styled score attacks because that’s not the reason I play for. Once I’ve completed a game I either go back because I’ve unlocked reasons to continue playing, (new storylines for instance,) or because new objectives have been uncovered from my first playthrough. I won’t go back looking for high scores unless it’s under very specific circumstances, I’m playing something like Tetris for example in which it’s the entire point to keep replaying. In this game, you have an ultimate objective, and the levels are procedural but there isn’t enough to warrant going back once that objective is met unless you’re playing it as an arcade shooter.
If you’re playing for those big scores then the procedural element is going to be far less important and if you aren’t playing with an objective-based outlook you’re far more interested in staying alive and racking up your score. If this is the case then you’re playing Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon from a completely different angle and I think you’ll probably have an awful lot of fun with it. Let’s set this aside for a moment, though, and look at the nuts and bolts. As we dissect things more you’ll see that personal taste is going to be a big factor in this one.
The graphics look like something that could have been pulled off a ZX Spectrum or C64. I get the desire to go for something truly retro and I’m all up for that but there were certain things that sucked the first time round and seizure-inducing graphics were one of them. What we have here are collections of blocks moving around other geometric objects. The enemies are virtually indistinguishable from each other, they’re robot shaped but other than a bit of color variation that’s about it. Turrets are other colored blocks and the obstacles are … well you get the picture. All of this is accompanied by a multi-colored pulsing background that after a bit starts searing itself into your eyeballs. Coming back to my point about playing this in handheld mode. No having a bigger screen wouldn’t have helped, I really don’t need blinding in a larger format, thanks. Before anybody comes for me I’m totally aware that you can turn the flashing down in the settings which, to be honest, is a massive plus.
The sound and audio in general are really important to this title and there are definitely some pros and cons here. Once again, sadly the cons win out for me though. So, Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon is a game that’s about music. As the story goes, it, along with dancing has been banned in all its forms by evil robot overlords. Dr. Dysco has been kidnapped and imprisoned in the robot’s dungeon before the ultimate weapon has been created. You set out on a rescue mission to bring the doctor home, thus saving the world. This being said, music is something that’s at the heart of the story.
This should be a game where the beat is all important. You actually have to time your moves and fire to the beat if you’re going to survive. The problem I had was that although there were plenty of songs in the Rainbow Disco Laser Dungeon‘s arsenal none of them really did a lot for the game for me. I completely understand that you’re supposed to fire along to the music that’s playing but I quickly realized that I wasn’t and that I didn’t really feel like I was being penalized for that. With this in mind, the game regressed to being a pretty decent twin-stick shooter with nice music. This, however sort of defeats the point. Let it be said that I completed the game on easy but I’d already played it in normal mode and I still didn’t really feel like I was playing along to the music so my point stands.
Okay so let’s set the graphics and sound to one side and call that an artistic choice. I’m all for creativity and we all have our own opinions, some of you might like the set up it’s just not for me personally in this instance. Gameplay-wise, as I’ve mentioned, your objective is to save Dr. Dysco so he can complete a weapon that will destroy the robot menace. This sees you battle your way through the dungeon in an attempt to collect and get him out. Once you escape you complete the game and jump back to the start screen. Fairly simplistic but this is a game that should be all about the action so that’s fine and fair enough. This, however, brings me to my final point. There isn’t a vast amount of game here.
The dungeon that you’ll be traveling through is big but doesn’t span multiple levels. In easy mode, it’s simply a case of finding the doctor and getting out. Harder difficulties add a few more hurdles into the mix, but don’t make the game any bigger. If this title was stretched over different floors with the doctor being at the bottom of the final one there would be more for us roguelike fanatics to go at. The fact that once you’ve saved the doctor you’re sent back to the start, with your run being determined more by your score than this objective alone diminishes the reason to keep going back. Going back to my earlier point this is dependent on why you’re playing. If you’re playing for the score it’s a different matter entirely and you’ll keep throwing yourself at it and building your skill and your points.
So I’ve just been pretty harsh but what I can say is that Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon works. Apart from getting stuck on the odd obstacle, there aren’t loads of glitches and crashes, we don’t have bugs to worry about and the control system is simple and easy to pick up. The music is varied so you get a bunch of different tracks to blast away to and being able to turn down all the flashing is a godsend. This also isn’t a very expensive title so we can’t expect a magnum opus. If taken on its merits this could definitely be fun for some of you, especially if you’re competitive score junkies. As a roguelike, it’s just okay for me. The main role of a roguelike is to make you want to keep going back for more and because I didn’t get that pull this was ultimately a bit of a letdown in that sense.
Finding the beat
It is what it is
Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon is an inexpensive, twin-stick, score attack. If you like arcade shooters and are interested in leaderboard climbing this could be quite a bit of fun for you. As someone coming at this title looking for a new roguelike to sink my teeth into it was all just okay. The game works but I found the beat aspect getting a bit lost and once I’d completed it didn’t have a ton to go back for. The pull for multiple playthroughs wasn’t there for me. This being said I think this title will be a hit or miss depending on your stance and reason for playing. If you’re playing for high scores then you’re well worth giving Rainbow Laser Disco Dungeon a whirl.