Whomst among us didn’t watch Whip It over a decade ago and think about giving full-contact skating sport a go, before falling over on once and deciding to pack it in? I have a bunch of friends who persisted and now spend their weekends in gyms and car parks, where they skate under 11/10 names like Correctional Felicity and give each other huge bruises. I can’t be sure, but from their activity on social media I estimate they spend about 114% of their time being excited about roller derby, which I endorse. Now both they (and people like me, who find wheels frightening), can spend even more free time on roller derby with the annoucenment of 2023’s sports management game Roller Drama.
Roller Drama apparently throws in some visual novel elements, as well as the bits where you skate for glory (although it should be noted this is not a roller derby simulator and has slightly different rules to the IRL sport). You, Joan, live with your team of five skaters, and have to manage both their personal and professional lives, balancing their emotional states with being “kickass athletes”. This sounds like, in almost all contexts outside of a sports video game, a terrible set up, and on no account should you enter into a situation like that in your real life.
Inside a sports video game, however, I can see it working. In between making sure your skaters don’t get too sad to hip check a part-time sysadmin in their matches, you have to actually manage said matches, which are real-time strategy challenges played out by cute lil 3D skaters. I really like the art style for the rest of the game, actually, which I am told has been hand drawn by illustrator Vic Macioci.
Roller Drama takes place in an alternate world where “things are going slightly worse than they are here”, which explains why part of the blurb says the players “grapple with friendship, heartbreak, and late capitalist society…”. I worry things like that can very easily go from self-aware to self-conscious to self-parody. At the same time, though, it does open up some potentially interesting story stuff. Plus roller derby is a very Thunder Dome feeling kind of sport anyway, so I’ll say that it thematically tracks.
Roller Drama is coming to PC, via Steam, and Switch) early next year, with the other console boxes getting it later. PC stays winning.