Runner2, as the game is commonly known, is a platform adventure that was developed by Gaijin Games in conjunction with Aksys Games, the publisher. It’s one of those titles that brings a ton of charm and enjoyment to the table, and right away I was enamored with the colorful menu screens, the characteristically sunny Wii-style soundtrack, and the well-written cut scenes voiced by one Charles Martinet, a man who has figured prominently in the history of Nintendo voice-acting.
Your adventure begins in “The Emerald Skies,” a land that contains puffy pink clouds, fantastical sky-creatures, and an introduction to the basic skills you’ll need to master in order to play. The controls are intuitive, and work fine on a keyboard, but I did find myself wishing I’d had a controller, as various splash screens kept suggesting. One must learn to compromise in life, however, so I experienced the game using keys. Fortunately, I found that this did not impede my enjoyment in any way.
worst example of eye-strain in the world, but I knew I was getting tired when the scenery had basically started to melt into an indistinguishable blur.
Crossing the finish line after making it through a series of crazy-complicated obstacles can be a rush, but there will be plenty of times when you’ll crash and have to start all over, which brings me to my next point. One of the main (but few) drawbacks of the overall game is that you can play it for multiple hours, but a good deal of that time might be spent hurtling through space back to the starting line or last checkpoint, causing you to shout expletives that’d make a sailor blush. Sometimes you have to go way back – you could be at the last obstacle of a level, having been perfect up until that point, but if you crash, it’s curtains. There is no health system – you mess up once, that’s it – and some of those levels can be downright diabolical. Adjusting the difficulty feels like a cop-out, but in the end that frustration is an inherent part of the platform genre – there has to be a fitting penalty when you die in order to keep the stakes high.
The last thing that I wanted to touch on is possibly the most important aspect of the game, which is its interactive (to a degree) soundtrack. Described as a music game by the people who made it, Runner2 is like an awesome spin-off of Super Mario Bros. that was somehow combined with Dance Dance Revolution; that, or some sort of Daft Punk edition of Guitar Hero, except it would be called Tenori-On Hero. Rhythm plays a central role, as your timing will be aided over and over by listening to the music and hitting those jumps and slides to the beat. Grabbing gold bars also creates feathery little electronic riffs that match up perfectly with the background score.
The overall impression is that of a highly professional, polished gaming experience, and I’ll admit I set my alarm early a few times this week so I could play before going to work. For $14.99, this game is a bargain, as there is a ton of bug-free content, different levels to explore and perfect, and a deep, addictive goodness that will repeatedly have you going back for just one more try.
Here is a game that was deceptively simple to learn, but tested my limits in terms of the need for split-second timing, and lightning-quick reflexes. The bottom line, of course, is that it’s fun as hell, albeit painfully addictive. If you enjoy that type of pleasure mixed with pain, and have been craving a cutting-edge platform adventure with a truly imaginative and polished visual style, look no further: Runner2 is a game that you ought to make a dash for.