Developer: 4 Corner Games
Publisher: 4 Corner Games
Platform: Wii U (eShop)
Release Date: June 5, 2014
ESRB: E for Everyone
There have been a lot of genres represented on the Wii U eShop since its inception, but I've Got to Run! from new kid on the block 4 Corner Games might be the first of its kind. Of course, Endless Runner games are anything but new; you only need to look at the iTunes app store to realize that, so how does this particular title fare in comparison?
I've Got to Run! stars a peculiar cartoonish character named Roy the Marshmellow Boy who... well, just has to run! His design is actually pretty adorable, and his little marshmellow arms and legs are entertaining to watch as they move back and forth while running. As an endless runner, the objective is to run (which is automated) and jump until you hit a wall or fall into a gap. To that end, the goal here is all about attaining the highest score.
Upon starting up the game, you're presented with three different gameplay modes to choose from: Endless Classic, Endless Double, and Endless Special. Endless Classic is somewhat the equivalent of the beginner mode; it's set in a charming little kitchen and there are plenty of long platforms to jump between, making it the easiest to survive a long time in before you inevitably miss a jump. Things get a bit more interesting in Endless Double, though. Presented in a medieval setting (complete with a castle and moat in the background), this mode introduces a double jump but increases the difficulty by introducing larger gaps and thinner ground pieces to walk on. Finally, there's Endless Special, which is the most interesting of the three. Set in space on the Moon, this mode also uses the double jump but also includes red and green markers throughout as you run. Tagging these will either slow down or speed up Roy's running, depending on which he touches (red = slower; green = faster).
Through analyzing the high scores of my runs through all three modes, Classic and Double are pretty close in difficulty level, with both having certain trade-offs. Since Classic has longer platforms and short gaps and Roy is relegated to just one jump at a time, this allows for a smaller margin for error. However, with Double offering the double jump, it helps to mitigate the fact that the gaps are wider and platforms are shorter, thus giving you more wiggle room to make sure you complete each jump. Special is definitely the toughest thanks to the speeding up/slowing down mechanic, and likely the mode you'll spend the most time trying to conquer due to that.
Essentially, the game boils down to your sense of timing and knowing when to make those jumps. It's simple in nature but can be quite addictive if you're competitive and generally like score-attack games. In addition, it's also quite soothing to play thanks to some nice music throughout; Endless Double has a beautiful, medieval-inspired track complete with horns and what sounds to be a lute (or guitar) while Endless Special has a nice, calm electronic/New Age-like song that really fits the stage well. Classic's theme can be pretty catchy as well, even if it is my least favorite of the three.
There are a few things that could use improvement, however. During Endless Special, I did experience a few brief screen jolts from time to time when I tagged the green and red markers (something that may be patched later on). It would have been nice to have Roy's sprite be just a little bit bigger (like he is on the menu) as he can be a little tough to track on the brighter backgrounds in Endless Classic and Endless Double at times. The decision to end the gameplay when you try to pause is understandable (to prevent high score exploits, essentially) but did lead to some frustrations when I forgot about that fact at times when I needed to stop but was on a roll with a high score.
On one last note, the level backgrounds are static which may be off-putting at first but you do get used to it. 4 Corner Games' Syrenne McNulty mentioned that this is because she found the animated backgrounds interfered with the player's concentration, so she went for what she felt would be a better experience for the player in the end. Even still, it's a tiny bit disappointing that the backgrounds can't scroll even just a little bit as you run along, but it's a very minor complaint in the end. However, the game does run at 60 frames per second, which makes it look very fluid and nice in motion (even with the static backgrounds).
For what it is, I've Got to Run! is an impressive first effort from 4 Corner Games. If you're not into endless runners, this may not exactly change your mind about them, but it's definitely a competent game in its own right and competitively priced to boot (being only $2). I would love to see this on iOS or 3DS someday as well since the game lends itself to short bursts of gameplay. If going after high scores is for you, definitely consider giving this one a purchase; who knows, you might find yourself thinking, "I've got to run!" after getting hooked on it for just a little bit!
+ Nice aesthetic; Roy has a great design
+ Addicting, score-attack gameplay
+ Music is catchy
- Not much else to the game other than going for the highest score
- Sometimes Roy's small size can cause you to lose track of him amid the background
Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10)
I've Got to Run! is a fun little endless runner title that can be addicting to play if you enjoy score attack games, and a great freshman effort from 4 Corner Games.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using Wii U downloadable code provided by 4 Corner Games.