enfrdeitptrues

Endless Runner

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Bird Mania Christmas 3D
    Developed By: Teyon
    Published By: Teyon
    Release Date: December 26, 2013
    Available On: Nintendo 3DS
    Genre: Action/Endless Flier
    Number of Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence
    MSRP: $1.99 on Nintendo eShop

    Thank you Teyon for sending us this game for review!

    The mobile gaming revolution has brought about a resurgence and refinement of some of the oldest and most time-tested gaming mechanics: chasing the high score.  One category of game that truly epitomizes this resurgence is that of the endless runner.  While I suppose it would be more accurate to call this game an endless flier, it is based on a similar concept: your creature (bird, in this case) moves automatically, and you manipulate it in limited ways which impacts your score based on success or failure.  There is a reason that this style of game is so popular these days: it can be very fun and addicting when done right.  And Bird Mania Christmas 3D did it right.

    The premise of the game is very simple: You are a lost bird who missed his chance to join the other birds on their way to Africa.  So now it's time to fly south, avoiding many obstacles, including trees, airplanes, and other birds.  You have the ability to fly up and down, as well as boost.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great price; touch screen controls work well; clean and colorful graphics; addicting gameplay
    Weak Points: Only a single, endless flier style game mode; other control options vastly inferior to touch screen; dying to birds behind clouds feels cheap; holiday theme hampers appeal the rest of the year
    Moral Warnings: Birds hit things and fall out of the sky (a.k.a. None!)

    This game takes place on a flat 2D plane, similar to classic side scroller shoot 'em ups like Gradius.  You score points by moving to intercept stars or baubles, which includes things like balloons.  If you boost through another bird, you get a score multiplier.  If, while the multiplier meter is on the screen, you boost through another, your multiplier increases by one, and the meter resets itself.  It only lasts a few seconds, so as things speed up, it can get very frantic as you try to maintain larger and larger combos, while grabbing as many stars and baubles as you can, while also avoiding deadly trees.  And, if that wasn't enough, if you boost through airplanes, your combo is immediately lost.  Oh – and birds (and planes) are deadly if you don't boost through them.

    This simple gameplay formula really does lend itself to addictive gameplay.  New with the Christmas release, (this is the second Bird Mania 3D game) there are now online leaderboards.  And, in a stroke of brilliance, by default it shows you the highest scores of all of your 3DS friends after every run.  As soon as I noticed this and showed it to my kids, I've never seen them so quick to plunk down the measly $2 for this game.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Now, we have 3 (out of 5) 3DSs in our house with a copy of Bird Mania 3D Christmas – and each day, I see my kids' high scores inch ever closer to mine.  For the record, as of this writing, I still have over double the points of my closest child.  I am currently at position 42 on the leaderboards with a score of 16378. My daughter is currently at position 68, score 8190, and closing fast.  She was at ~5000 yesterday.  My son's score is a bit lower, at 1577.  He's also 6, so cut him some slack.  ;)  If you can't see why this new addition is much bigger and more fun than it sounds like, you must not have any friends or siblings.

    My main complaints with the game are few.  The Christmas theme really does the game a disservice, since who wants to play a Christmas-themed game but 2 months a year? Also, sometimes birds can be stuck behind clouds, and deaths from that feel Really Cheesy and can be frustrating.  Yes, you can learn to watch for it... but it's not as easy as it seems, when levels are moving past you, faster and faster. Thankfully there is the occasional night time to give the player a breather before the next speed jump.

    Bird Mania 3D Christmas is a simple, but very fun game to pass the time, especially for the more competitive among us.  I let my kids play it with a perfectly clean conscience.  And, despite the limited play options, it's priced just right at $1.99 on the Nintendo eShop.

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    BIT.TRIP Presents Runner2
    Developed By: Gaijin Games
    Published By: Gaijin Games
    Released: February 26, 2013
    Available On: Linux, Mac OS X, PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
    Genre: Action, Indie
    ESRB Rating: T for Crude Humor
    Number of Players: 1
    Price: $14.99 New
    Version Reviewed: PC

    Bit Trip Runner 2 is a strange game. Even a cursory look at any of the flamboyantly colorful and imaginative backgrounds will make you laugh at it's inherent craziness. The creators obviously had fun with this game and after running, jumping, sliding, blocking, and kicking your way through every obstacle, you will too.

    As you control hilariously designed characters ranging from a reverse merman to a giant pickle, you must hurdle, duck, and dodge your way through levels laden with bizarre enemies. While the first levels require only using the jump button, later levels integrate increasingly difficult combinations of acrobatics. Even though death is caused by one misstep in this game, the obstacles and enemies you must avoid are simple to understand so that you have time to react by jumping over them, ducking under them, or even reflecting them away with your shield. While the game steadily increases to a really difficult level, your deaths seldom seem unfair. With that said, there are several really frustrating levels that required dozens of retries to finally conquer. However, it should be noted that this sequel is much easier to get into than the original which did not contain the checkpoint system.

    Beyond the side scrolling gameplay, there are many unlockable characters, character skins, and 'retro' levels to find that greatly increase the replayability of the game. While the new skins and characters are purely aesthetic, the retro levels are really difficult, have a chip-tune soundtrack, and have graphics that you would have found on a SNES. Finally, each of the worlds ends with a boss fight that provides an interesting variation to the platforming formula.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Responsive platforming, amazing and interactive soundtrack, goofy art style
    Weak Points: Some spikes in difficulty
    Moral Warnings: Crude humor in level names and other in-game descriptions and somewhat obscene design of one playable character

    While the game's graphics are far from revolutionary, they are simple and charmingly effective. The characters you control react and animate immediately to your commands and the tight controls make every failure feel like your fault. The obstacles and track that you run on have relatively simple graphics, but they do a great job of communicating what action you must perform to conquer a given obstacle. The backgrounds are hilarious and can contain everything from dead sharks to a strange looking tree man that flamboyantly gallops behind you as you run. Finally, the menu has a great cartoony style that matches perfectly with the rest of the game.

    The soundtrack to this game is amazing. Rarely do I find myself getting a game soundtrack stuck in my head, but I found that happening several times while playing Runner 2. More than being catchy, every jump, collected piece of gold, and ducked-under obstacle affects the music by adding notes or riffs to the background music. Larger plus sign collectibles change the music more dramatically when collected by adding a bass riff or drum accompaniment to the already exciting musical score.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Gameplay - 19/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 78%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

    Despite its childish exterior, I found several questionable pieces of content in this game. First, the names of the levels in the game are crude innuendoes. Additionally, some characters have crass names like 'Whetfahrt Cheeseborger.' One character, the reverse merman, has the impression of male genitalia bulging from his underwear. Violence in game is kept to a minimum and includes kicking mechanical bosses to destroy them. A dead shark is visible in some levels.

    Despite those few questionable inclusions, Bit Trip Runner 2 is a solid game that successfully drives the player onward through skill based gameplay accentuated by a fantastic musical score. While some levels will take dozens of frustrating deaths to complete, the joy of persevering through the challenge will give you a feeling of accomplishment seldom felt in other games. I would recommend this game to teenagers and older who can accept the questionable moral content.

    -ChanBearBeast

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Canabalt
    Developed By: Semi Secret Software, LLC
    Released: 2009
    Available On: Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, and anything with a Web browser capable of running Flash
    Genre: 2D platformer
    ESRB Rating: N.A. However, rated 9+ on iTunes store for infrequent/mild cartoon or fantasy violence.
    Number of Players: 1 or 2
    Price: $2.99 (iTunes, Google Play) 

    Giant robots stomp through the streets. Mysterious aircraft fly between the buildings. A bomb explodes nearby, and the office you're in begins to shudder. You don't know what is going on. But you have to get out of this place, and fast. And so, you do what you do best – run.

    That is the premise of the game Canabalt, a simple game from Semi Secret Software, LLC. The player controls an unnamed man in a suit as he scampers and tumbles over rooftops, across girders and through offices in an attempt to get to safety. Along the way, he needs to leap between buildings, dodge falling bombs and break through windows. The longer he runs, the faster he gets. 

    The graphics are monochromatic and done in a simplistic, pixelated style. It's easy to make out your figure, as the character's coat and pants are the only black pixels used on the screen. Everything else is a shade of gray or white. The graphics are clear enough to make out what's going on, but most of the details will get lost in a blur as the game continually speeds up. The game also makes frequent use of the “shaky cam” technique, which not only makes the game a bit more difficult because it obscures what's happening, but may induce a bit of motion sickness in the player (I don't suffer from this, but the shaking occasionally made me a bit nauseous).

    The music is fast-paced and frenetic, with a chiptune style that fits the game, but is not really memorable. The sound effects seem artificial, but that is probably more in homage to the nostalgic feel to the game, rather than due to deliberately poor work.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fast and short gameplay allow for several games to be played in a short amount of time. Controls are responsive and simplistic.
    Weak Points: Quickly gets repetitive. Odd strain on computer resources in some versions.
    Moral Warnings: The character in the game dies frequently.

    The controls are the sharpest part of the game. There is really only one thing the player can do – jump. By pressing the button (or, presumably, tapping the screen on portable devices) the character jumps. A tap will cause a short hop, while a longer press results in a higher or longer jump. The player doesn't even have control over the direction of the runner or the speed. The character's velocity continues to increase until the player's response time fails to be quick enough to avoid a certain death. It becomes a point of strategy to deliberately run into one of the cardboard boxes or office chairs that occasionally appear in order to slow the game down. This can lead to the character not having enough speed to make the next jump, but it's a chance the player may have to take.

    The game does rely primarily on chance. There is no way to memorize the correct path to take or when to jump, because every run features randomly generated buildings, obstacles and threats. Other than the initial office hallway, nothing is the same as it was before. This random factor keeps the game fresh and prevents it from getting too predictable. 

    One thing that can be predicted, however, is the ending. Every run ends with the character's death. There is no way to “win” this game – the only goal is to see how far the player can travel before succumbing to an inevitable demise. While this could lead to an analysis about how this is a reflection of the human condition and the futility of man's attempts to avoid death, more than likely it's simply because this factor makes the games short and a bit amusing. The player can't help but to laugh at a clumsily-placed jump or the sudden appearance of a bomb right in front of them. The character's death is described in a simple sentence, the most graphic of which is “You have traveled X meters before being turned into a fine mist.” Even though deaths are frequent, they're not depicted in a bloody fashion.

    This leads to the other problem with the game, though. With no victory condition available, the game quickly gets old. The player starts, jumps over obstacles, dies, starts again. Canabalt can be fun for a few minutes at a time, but before too long, I felt that time was being wasted and wondered what else could be played, instead.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 64%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 3/10
    Sound - 4/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The other issue I came across – and this was an odd one - happened when I played the Flash version of the game (which operates from within a Web browser). The fans on my aging MacBook Pro spun faster, which is typically a sign that my laptop is starting to strain under the demands of its graphics card and/or processor. I've had this happen with other, more graphic-intensive games such as Torchlight or Civilization IV, so it struck me as odd that a game as simple as Canabalt would do the same. The download of Canabalt that I obtained also came with an installer using Adobe Air, and that version didn't cause my fans to spin in the same fashion. So there is something with the Flash version that seems to put unnecessary strain on my computer system.

    The final critical point is about the usage of Flash in the game. The game is priced at $2.99 through various on-line stores, yet it can be played for free on game sites like Kongregate – or even on the developer's own Web site. I'm not sure why someone would want to shell out $3 for a game that can be freely played through an Internet connection. I could see the developer listing it for 99 cents and people giving that money out just as a way to say “thank you,” but $3 seems a little steep for a game as simple as this.

    Canabalt is an entertaining diversion for a few minutes, but lacks substance for more than that. While it can be fun to play on the Internet, I don't think it's worth the $3 charge to download it to your computer or mobile device.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    MechRunner
    Developed by: Spark Plug Games
    Published by: Spark Plug Games
    Release date: April 18, 2017
    Available on: Linux, macOS, PS4, Windows
    Genre: Endless runner
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: E 10+ for fantasy violence
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you Spark Plug Games for sending us this title to review!

    MechRunner was successfully Kickstarted in 2014 exceeding its $25,000 goal by $3,434. They promised to bring fast paced action, an extensive arsenal of weapons, procedurally generated levels, epic boss battles, achievements, unlockable skins, and an amazing Hollywood quality soundtrack. For the most part, they delivered and this $4.99 title is fun to play in short spurts.

    When first launching this game you won’t see much of a story, but you’ll get to learn the basic controls and firing the weapons on your uncle’s XP-41 mechanized war machine. The XP-41 has a tank mode which can fire missiles and cannons. In the battle mech mode you can take down enemies with guns or your swords. By finishing off enemies with the swords you’ll receive more energy from them. This collected energy is used as currency to unlock new and upgrade existing weapons.

    Your ultimate goal is to stop General Yuri Petrakoff and his division of advanced weaponry which uses alien technology for their evil creations. The path to victory is ever changing and it won’t be easy. The randomized levels keep you on your toes and you’ll need to master switching between the tank mode and mech mode to survive.

    MechRunner
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Addicting endless runner game with many upgrade options
    Weak Points: Slow progression; bland visuals
    Moral Warnings: Vehicular/robotic violence

    The tank mode is required for picking up and delivering civilians. Unless the civilians are taken to a drop ship, you won’t get credit for picking them up in the first place. I preferred the tank's missiles for shooting away cars and protoenergy transmitters in my way. Not only can protoenergy containers give you energy, you rob enemies from being able to use them to regenerate health if a battle ensues.

    There are many robotic enemies and tanks that crop up and start firing back at you. Again, I preferred the tank’s weaponry over the battle mech’s but the battle mech has its advantages too. The battle mech is more agile, and it can target enemies or their protoenergy transmitters better than the tank can. Also extra energy is acquired for slicing downed enemies with the sword after winning the battle.

    Compared to the environmental obstacles, the enemy battles are pretty easy. I often lost precious armor points by scattered cars, falling debris, or not being able to dodge an incoming pile of rubbish soon enough. Sometimes you’ll recover shield points with a power-up, but not often enough for my taste. I often got experience or weapon boosts instead of armor repair power-ups. Until you upgrade your experience, you can only carry a limited number of power-ups and civilians.

    MechRunner
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 88%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The length of a run depends on your driving skills and the luck of the draw on what you get in regards to obstacles and enemies to battle. When your armor drops to zero, you're taken back to the garage after getting chewed out by your uncle for banging up his life’s work. Any experience and energy collected during your run is yours to keep. In the garage, you can purchase new or upgrade existing weapons and unlock movies. Some items need energy to unlock while others unlock automatically when you reach a certain level.

    At the end of your run you’re shown the distance traveled, amount of energy collected, number of civilians rescued, and enemies defeated. I like how new personal records are indicated. In the main menu you can see your overall stats and progress towards unlocking medals for number of enemies defeated and people rescued.

    While the mech and enemies were fairly detailed, the rest of the environment was rather bland and lacking in detail. The character profiles were nicely animated though their voice acting wasn’t great. It got the job done though. The background music was decent; it didn’t stand out to me good or bad, but it didn’t blow me away either.

    In the end, MechRunner is a decent endless runner title. I enjoyed it in small spurts and think the asking price of less than five dollars is fair. The Steam version is more expensive and people don’t seem to be happy with the PC controls. I thought the PS4 controls were very responsive and reliable. If you enjoy endless runners, this one is worth looking into.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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