Monday, January 28, 2013

Run, Run, Run | Five Runner Games for Android

Now that the much awaited sequel to Temple Run is out, this whole thing has prompted us to write a review of the best and not so best runner games in Android right now.

Rail Rush | MiniClip Games

Rail Rush puts you in a sort of roller coaster ride (without the vertical loop, but alas, with lots of gold nuggets to collect along the way.)  The fact that you're practically trapped in a constantly moving cart around a seemingly endless ride means you really have no choice but to zoom along, unlike in other runner games where you nevertheless run like crazy even if no one's chasing you at all (We're looking at you, Agent Dash, The End App, Panda Run, etc.)  Controls are smooth in Rail Rush, if only a bit more forgiving.  As long as you swipe up or down, it doesn't matter if you did it a little too early, you'll still make it.

Just like traditional runner games, missions abound in Rail Rush, from collecting a certain amount of egg rocks to hurdling this number of wooden barricade, encouraging you to play yet one more round till you've unknowingly spent an entire hour.  

What to do with those gold nuggets you've amassed?  Buy characters (each one with a quirky ability of only being able to smash either left, right, upper or lower obstacle), and some nifty cart add-ons for a hassle-free ride.

The Nice: Smooth motions, tilt function, secret tunnel, battery-friendly looming darkness 
The Not-so-nice: Absence of bats (it's an underground passage, right?)

The End App

It's almost a shame you can't stop running in The End App, considering that the developers have rendered such a beautifully-detailed, gloriously colorful, post-apocalyptic city ruins (if you can call post-apocalyptic ruins beautiful and glorious).  All over the street cars are overturned and up in flames, the roads are all fissured and cracked, seemingly from an aftershock, with lava and flames spilling over from below, and there are even buses nosedived into the ground below, having gone off the freeway.  

With all these fascinating details, one would definitely wish the character would slow down for chrissake and admire the view, do a little exploring like old school adventurous Mario.  

But as we've said, you just keep on running, turning either left or right, and not much more.  Meanwhile you collect, uhmm, duct tapes.  Yes, duct tapes are the ultimate survival gear, alongside your Swiss knife and heavy-duty LED flashlight (and if Douglas Adams is to be believed, a towel too.)  The nonstop quest to collect duct tapes simply begs the question of why?  If you want, you can pony up a few dollars to unlock other survivors as well as new devastated cities.

After a few runs, The End App, with its fast-paced action and upbeat music, becomes a bit of a chore though, and you find yourself wondering, if the apocalypse is all over and I'm the only survivor left in this godforsaken town, why the heck am I running all the time?

The Nice: Devastatingly detailed environment
The Not-so-nice: Awkward running position of default character, Questionable duct tape quest

Panda Run

Simply put, Panda Run is not worth your time.

The Nice: Hmmm. Unless you find pandas on the run cute.
The Not-so-nice: Everything.

Agent Dash | by Full Fat

You'll love Agent Dash for its secret agent appeal, complete with the handsome tuxedo suit (for the titular character Agent Dash) and a sexy catsuit aviator outfit for the female Agent Goodtug.  

Apparently, your goal in Agent Dash is to blow up the enemy's headquarters.  So you run through various obstacles in a jungle setting, inside the enemy base, and then outside the streets, in that order, and then back to the jungle again.  Power ups are available including jetpacks and a magnet for magnetizing, uhm, the diamonds, but hey, that's their game.  Fortunately, graphics are nice, and the characters look like they just came right out of a well-established cartoon show, but alas, after a few runs, the game feel tiresome and old, and aren't agents supposed to be stealthy in the first place, not running all the time?  And where are the crazy gadgets?  As a matter of fact, where are the villains?!  Because there seems to be no one else around.

The Nice: Great sound and music, Funny when the agents fall flat on their faces or smash into a wall of rock
The Not-so-nice: No tilt function, and well, the runner mode is just plain wrong for the spy genre.

Temple Run 2 | Imangi Studios

The husband-and-wife team who gave us Temple Run is now back with, well Temple Run 2.  This time around a single huge gorilla is out to get you, prompting your endless run.  

The new environment is just gorgeous, very detailed--a splendid floating city high above the clouds, built by a long-gone civilization, which feels like you've seriously violated just because you're treading in their sacred grounds.  In the original Temple Run, it feels like you're just trapped in some sort of endlessly looping pathway where the boring straight paths either take you left or right.  In Temple Run 2, you meet the Great Outdoors.

Just like in the real world, the roads have curves and terrains now, while the camera suavely tracks your movement.  Curiously enough, the occasional waterfalls and transitions from floating cities to the forests remind me of an M.C. Escher painting, but of course thinking about topology won't get me anywhere.

Rope swings have been added for Tarzan moments when you need to negotiate cliffs--don't worry the characters have safety gloves so no rope burn. (The developers thought of everything.)  And for added measure there's even a mine cart where you take a ride.  Just like in the first version, you're still collecting coins here, but now the collecting is less tedious and a lot more fun.

The Nice: Rope swings! Mine carts! Depth of field!
The Not-so-nice: Still no redemption for the character, no secret passages you can explore at leisure, or puzzles to take a break from all the legwork.

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