TerRover is a classic example of not judging a book by its cover. It’s a game where its aesthetic demands instant likability. Cute protagonist – check; Colorful, vivid worlds – yup; Loads of replayabilty – you bet. The thing is, once past all that, you’ll realize there’s not much worth playing. TerRover’s physics engine is so completely frustrating that you’ll feel lost even after several hours of play. What’s left is a game that’s easy on the eyes, but little else, and ultimately a title only the most die hard of trophy hunters should risk delving into.
The story of TerRover begins with… well, there’s not much of a story, but that’s okay. TerRover isn’t a game that lives or dies by its narrative, yet, more often relies on its steep challenge to pull you in. Your main goal basically consists of getting from start to finish of each level, somehow helping the TerRover’s inhabit new worlds, since their home world was destroyed. As previously stated, the visuals are the real champion here. Your TerRover will traverse five very different planets, ranging from your typical fire and ice worlds, to mechanized planets and swampy, Dagobah-like worlds. Each planet oozes character, and imbues a very individual, cel-shaded vibe.
TerRover’s stylized worlds aren’t the only aspect that will initially pull you in. TerRover’s worlds are filled with all sorts of mechanical bleeps and bloops, as well as great electronic beats that really nail the feel of the game. Whether traversing the slippery terrain of the ice world Congelata, or the Fungus world of Aura, TerRover’s audio seems to fit the scene. Audibly and aesthetically, TerRover is a success.
But then you’re forced to pick up the controller, and that’s where the majority of hair-pulling ensues. TerRover allows you to take one of six machines (unlocking five of them as you progress) and navigate levels filled with myriad amounts of traps and obstacles. Controlling your TerRover is an interesting endeavor but ultimately one that fails. TerRover does not turn on a dime. In fact, he doesn’t turn at all. When moving from left to right you’ll tap X to switch the direction TerRover’s head is facing. Basically, you’re always moving with forward momentum, using X to switch which direction you face.
Triangle acts as the invert button for those times TerRover lands on his head. When overturned, one quick tap will instantly place TerRover’s head right-side-up, allowing you to progress forward. While these controls seem fresh and unique at first, you’ll quickly learn the game’s level designs rip them apart, making them awkward, frustrating and a hindrance to play. Ideally, you’re supposed to have complete control of the weight of your vehicle with the left stick, but the majority of play will consist of you just fumbling your thumb around until your TerRover magically decides to advance the way you planned. There may only be one snow planet in the game, but you’ll assuredly feel like your on ice the entire time.
My biggest compliant with TerRover is the traps. Some are just plain stupid, and often so devoid of strategy that you’ll easily get turned off and wonder why you’re not playing Modern Warfare instead. TerRover’s lava world, Volcanus, has many instances where you’ll come to a pit of lava filled with tiny spheres overlapping the magma. You use these spheres (supposedly) to cross the lava without injury, but once your vehicle’s wheels hit the ground, all traction is lost, and the overlapping spheres begin to kick out under the rotation of TerRover’s tires, eventually causing yourself to “drill” right into the lava. Also, the jump button serves as the most worthless mechanic you’ll use in quite some time. Having any control over TerRover’s embarrassing jump ability is a complete joke, and you’ll often get so pissed off when coming to these traps you’ll, again, wonder why you’re not playing something else.
There’s no denying that TerRover is one cute little guy, but as Bubsy has proven time and time again that only gets you so far. TerRover isn’t the worst game I’ve ever played, in fact, for a time I enjoyed it. But after the initial love affair with its visuals wears off, you’ll find yourself genuinely disappointed. If you stick TerRover out to its end, you’ll feel just as incompetent as when you loaded it up. TerRover is the ultimate test of patience and it rarely pays off. TerRover’s is to progress through levels while collecting various bolts and trinkets to buy better machines, but no matter how many pieces you acquire, it’s evident that TerRover’s a machine missing too many parts.
TerRover is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Comic Mischief. This game can also be found on: PSP.