There are few games as old-school as Bust-n-Rush, the first effort by Techtonic Studios. It’s unapologetic in its simple gameplay design–running, barreling through rocks, and navigating various hazards along your path. This fuels players with the desire to achieve the highest possible score and also confronts them with a pitiless difficulty curve. The main question is which will overcome the other?
Fans of nonexistent storylines rejoice, as Bust-n-Rush harkens back to olden days where plot was inconsequential. Meet Kovo, a simple rock man chilling out with his favorite pink flamingo. Suddenly a massive machine crashes through his pad and his flamingo is smashed into bits of pink, plastic plumage. Thus begins Kovo’s rampage through Thurl as he smashes every object in his path.
Bust-n-Rush is best described as a ‘runner’ meaning that you’re always moving forward–and while you can slow down for brief periods, you can never stop. Kovo can bust through blue rocks as long as he’s dashing forward while he needs to completely avoid red ones. There are also chasms to jump over, and later on more complex obstacles.
There are two modes available: Challenge and Endless. Challenge is the main meat of the game as it presents players with challenges like busting so many rocks or surviving for a certain time limit. Endless mode is unlocked after playing for a while and is about getting the highest score possible before Kovo inevitably runs into a fatal object or falls into a pit.
One of the main attractions of Bust-n-Rush is that levels are randomly generated, so there’s no way to memorize layouts. This forces players to adapt constantly and it admittedly keeps things fresh with ever-changing level layouts. The drawback is most of the time the game will generate a series of impossible tasks like a tricky field of red rocks followed by a chasm resulted in many restarted games.
The game also has a bad habit of misinterpreting left-and-right keystrokes, so instead of going over one lane, Kovo will go over two which also leads to more restarts. Either the controls should’ve been made less sensitive or the amount of lanes Kovo has to navigate should’ve been downsized to two. At least the rest of the controls respond with the correct amount of sensitivity.
Bust-n-Rush only has three level designs, and they can feel quite samey after running through them after so many challenges. It’s easy to lose track of Kovo as he gains speeds and goes through one identical grouping of rocks to the next . Imagine staring at the lines on a road for a few hours.
As a first effort, Bust-n-Rush is a success in bringing the fun and frustration of a hardcore arcade title to the PC. The only things keeping Bust-n-Rush back are the sometimes unreasonable difficulty and a lack of variety in level design. It’s a cheap, but well-made game that packs a surprising amount of replay value with simple, engaging gameplay that keeps you coming back to see just how many rocks and high scores Kovo can smash through.
Eight out of ten