Super Sami Roll – Review
Follow Genre: 3D platformer
Developer: Sonzai Games
Publisher: Sonzai Games, X PLUS Co.
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Super Sami Roll – Review

Site Score
Good: Catchy soundtrack
Bad: Mediocre visuals
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(1 votes)
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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

At the risk of making some people feel old: we’ve reached the point where 3D platformers featuring a mascot can be considered old school. Back in the ‘90s and early 2000s, mascot platformers were ubiquitous, but these days it’s fairly rare to see a new one released, especially one featuring an unknown lead character. Enter newcomer Sami, a lizard starring in Sonzai Games’ Super Sami Roll. The game channels the spirit of the GameCube and PS2 era, both visually and from a gameplay perspective. One thing Super Sami Roll can’t bank on, however, is the nostalgia factor. Read on, dear reader, to find out whether drawing gameplay inspiration from the great 3D platformers is enough to make this a game worth picking up, or if Super Sami Roll needs to put in a little more effort to collect coins from your wallet.


Super Sami Roll’s narrative setup doesn’t really break any new ground. As the text blurb during the opening scene explains, it’s a classic damsel-in-distress story. The damsel, in this case, is Vera, a flying squirrel, who happens to be the best friend of the titular lizard Sami. She’s kidnapped by Albert VII, a monkey who wants to add her to his collection of rare items and exotic pets. Naturally, it’s up to Sami to save his rodent friend from the claws of the sinister simian, so our lizard friend embarks on a quest to save her.


Upon booting the game, we were greeted with an impressive intro sequence, which -unfortunately- set us up for disappointment. In the anime-styled clip, which only lasts for about 20 seconds, Super Sami Roll’s world is a visual joy, filled with lush jungles and appealing enemy designs. In practice, however, the 3D worlds that the game is set in look empty and uninspired, with backgrounds looking especially drab. It doesn’t help that Sami himself lacks a distinct visual identity, and looks like a Bubble Bobble knockoff. Story sequences and the overworld map abandon the 3D visuals and are instead presented through sprite art, which looks like it came straight from the SNES era. We don’t know if our expectations were simply too high, but we really feel like more effort could have been put into bringing this world to life. The potential is there, but the execution isn’t.


Contrasting with the visuals is the soundtrack, which is excellent. The music is catchy and the high tempo tunes really add a sense of excitement to the game. The soundtrack is available as a separate purchase on Steam, and it’s well worth giving a listen to, even if the gameplay doesn’t entice you enough to pick up the game itself. Sami’s high-pitched cries and yelps add a sense of cuteness to the lizard. Other audio effects, such as when Sami picks up coins, sounded awfully familiar though.


If you were to combine Super Mario 64, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Monkey Ball into a single game, the result would probably end up looking a lot like Super Sami Roll. Now, we’re not saying that Super Sami Roll deserves to be up there with those all-time greats, but that it’s obvious that Sonzai Games took inspiration from them. Ultimately, Super Sami Roll ends up as a decent and challenging 3D platformer. We couldn’t help but shake the feeling that the game was missing something however. Despite the hybridization of Mario-esque platforming mechanics and high-speed rolling action, the game didn’t really do anything to really stand out. Part of this is of course because of the game’s lackluster visual presentation, which doesn’t help with the game establishing its own identity.

That said, the game doesn’t really do anything wrong either, apart from feeling generic. Controlling Sami feels natural and intuitive and it’s easy to get to grips with the basics, with the actual levels providing a challenge that’s tough but fair. One thing we have to keep in mind here is the game’s target audience of course, and Super Sami Roll is aiming for a family-friendly experience rather than something for the hardcore crowd. Seasoned gamers won’t find Super Sami Roll particularly challenging, but for most players, the game will not be a breeze to play through. The game features a plethora of enemies littering the stages, as well as boss battles, but none of these were particularly memorable. We had multiple run-ins with the game’s big bad guy, Albert VII, but the problem is that the game doesn’t flesh out his personality, making it difficult to get emotionally engaged with Sami’s plight, and as a result, the boss battles feel like a by-the-numbers affair more than anything else.

There is a learning curve present, and it takes some practice to fully master Sami’s abilities, which aren’t just limited to rolling but also include wall jumping, and using the creature’s tongue to swing across gaps. Stages often require some practice to get the timing right, especially when you need to cross multiple moving platforms before finding solid footing again. What really helps here is the game’s camera, which is one of the better ones we’ve had the pleasure of having to deal with.

It’s often that a decent 3D platformer gets screwed over by shoddy camera controls, but here it doesn’t just do a fantastic job of following around Sami, but it’s really easy to adjust, which is great for timing some of the game’s trickier jumps… except for the ones where Sami is dangling from a trapeze with his tongue. In these instances, moving the camera to the right angle to time our jumps proved to be tricky. This was one of the rare instances where Super Sami Roll’s gameplay was more frustrating, but it seems like something that can be resolved with an update down the line.

Rounding things out is the game’s collect-a-thon element, which encourages players to explore the stages to find coins and hidden pieces of fruit. Doing so rewards players with cosmetic items which can be used to provide Sami with some much-needed personality. Combined with a timer and achievable ranks, this increases Super Sami Roll’s overall longevity. The end result is a title that will certainly provide you with a few hours of solid fun, but also one that doesn’t end up being memorable.


Although Super Sami Roll’s core experience is good, it’s not great. The gameplay is solid, and the soundtrack is fantastic, but the game lacks visual flair and doesn’t put enough effort into fleshing out its own identity. You could do far worse than Super Sami Roll, but in paying homage to more famous platformers like Sonic and Mario, Super Sami Roll only reminded us that we could be playing those games instead.

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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Super Sami Roll - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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