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Run Roo Run HD

A concise example of designing around a platform, Run Roo Run keeps it simple. 5th Cell has created their counterpoint to the freeform design of Scribblenauts. Whereas the latter dabbles in creative problem solving, Run Roo Run makes a purely mechanical appeal. It’s designed with the iOS in mind, with a startling efficiency that favors constant stimuli and a rapid pace over meaningful interaction.

Another one-touch platforming title, 5th Cell have quickly adapted to the limitations of the device and made the quintessential reductive platformer, borrowing the marketable iOS influences where they might’ve left room for creativity in the past. This time it nearly comes across like they’re phoning it in.

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Run Roo Run wastes no time on setting the premise. Roo’s offspring is picked off by some poacher. So she takes up the man’s left-behind safari hat and hops on her way to maternal redemption, her journey spanning the stretch of outback between Perth and Sydney.

Each truncated screen exists as a mad dash to the finish line. Obstacles litter the courses, constantly changing in variety and scale, while colors both warm and cold wash over the background. It’s split over some four-hundred fragments, while the road to Sydney hits fifteen prime spots which each introduce a new twist. Anything from portal puzzles to invisibility tests.

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The hard part, it turns out, isn’t until the main hour or so of content’s cleared and then there’s a couple more to set into. Run Roo Run’s all in the timing. After each failure, you’ll begin with the jumping marks, a helpful kind of guide for what not to do, decent feedback given in the right context. It’s when the courses run tighter that it accentuates all the frustrations. It’s all about reflexes and yet there’s little room for error.

There’s an IAP for that. Some provide a quick and advantageous means to an instant finish or dropping everything into slow motion to get the timing down, though the constant flashing after deaths and suggestion of it becomes off-putting the further in you get. To 5th Cell’s credit, there’s a structure in place for free, weekly downloadable content with a sufficiently challenging set already made available.

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Run Roo Run is a clean and simple iOS release all about the merits of base functionality. It achieves a rapid, reflex-oriented pace and flies by in a couple sittings. It’s a succinct argument for developers taking on that occasional iOS project and finding what comes out of the limitations but – as a videogame – there’s simply not a whole lot to it.

Review based on version 1.0

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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