Run Roo Run
At this point itís safe to say Iíve run every game developed by 5th Cell through its paces, and though Iíve always cheered on their lofty gaming ambitions, this is one developer that has consistently left me unsatisfied. Setting aside grand aspirations for a more focused approach, however, Jeremiah Slaczka and his team seem to have finally found their niche.
Run Roo Run is, in a word, simplicity. You play as Roo the kangaroo who is on a desperate quest to save her kidnapped joey. One finger is all youíll need to guide Roo across the whole of Australia, and though the game is incredibly straightforward and easy to jump into, Run Roo Run is a deep and deeply rewarding adventure.
From the very moment the title screen kicks on, Run Roo Run becomes a joyous experience. The presentation and music are utterly delightful, and the pacing at which youíre taught and let loose to play is flawless. There are 20 separate areas to travel through, each with 15 normal levels and six extreme levels Ė ďextremeĒ not to be taken lightly, by the way.
That may sound like an enormous amount of content Ė and for a buck, youíre definitely going to get more than your moneyís worth here. However, Run Roo Run follows a similar concept to the WarioWare series, where each level takes literally only two or three seconds to complete. All levels for a given area can usually be finished in under a minute; heck, the gameís leaderboards encourage it. But youíll be hard-pressed to find as much fun and variety in any other game available on the App Store. Each and every one of the 20 areas introduces a new mechanic, and though all action in the game is mapped to a single tap, Run Roo Run feels like a lot of game for an iOS title.
At the outset, youíll simply command Roo to jump over obstacles, with levels ramping up ever so slightly in difficulty as you go. As you progress further into the game, all of the techniques youíve learned and power-ups acquired come together to create wondrous speed runs that are almost musical in execution. Roo will tunnel, bounce off the heads of birds, whip herself around barber poles, and speedily slide through oils spills in order to save her kangaroo offspring.
Though the game starts out almost too easy, the difficulty curve is subtle and refined. Youíll barely notice that youíre soon performing amazing platforming feats. Each of the 20 locales has its regular levels and extreme levels kept separate, and itís clear that players are meant to first complete all of the gameís casual gameplay before moving on to the more hardcore fare. The extreme levels live up to their name, and though itís confirmed that all of the levels can, in fact, be completed, I had my doubts while taking on some the gameís more brutal challenges.
Run Roo Runís extreme levels are also tied to the leaderboards in an integral way, as your level scores donít show up on the leaderboards until youíve completed both the regular and extreme levels for a given locale. And the competition is quite fierce. Shaving off milliseconds can become an obsession, and since high scores are divided into individual locales, thereís plenty of incentive to keep coming back to your favorite levels.
As if there wasnít enough content already under the hood, 5th Cell will be releasing eight new levels each week for at least the next 18 weeks. These arenít merely throwaway designs, either. The updates so far include speed runs on par with the gameís extreme levels, and some of the current creations are downright diabolical.
Run Roo Run has the added bonus of looking and sounding beautiful. This game could have been made by one of Nintendoís top teams. But it wasnít. This is by far 5th Cellís most polished and focused work. The developer has now established a signature art style, and yet this particular game easily trumps all of their past work. The animations are gorgeous Ė without a hint of lag Ė and the music is simply divine; I often found myself leaving my iPhone on the title screen just to be serenaded by the gameís opening theme.
For full disclosure, I went into Run Roo Run a skeptic. When it was first revealed, I was a huge cheerleader for the ideas described in Scribblenauts. Lockís Quest, too, was a cool concept I couldnít wait to sink my teeth into. However, both games fell short of the hype, and I was growing tired of 5th Cellís ambition-over-gameplay approach. Run Roo Run is a complete departure for the developer, and itís proof positive that sometimes the best ideas are simple ideas. Run Roo Run is one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have on this particular platform, and probably the best dollar youíll spend for a long, long time.
Ten out of ten
- Oodles of content for the money
- Wonít stop throwing awesome mechanics at you
- Stellar presentation and extras
- Will make you smile like an idiot
- Youíll feel guilty for paying only a buck for the game