Review: Running Dude
The "running" game genre has a number of variants for Windows Phone (we've looked at one recently in Tsotsi), but Running Dude is a step above others that I have seen. Why? Because it manages to be impressive in three different areas... control, game-play, and presentation.
Version Reviewed: 18.104.22.168
Control because with two hot spot areas under your thumb, your Dude reacts with no perceptible lag. The running, as is expected in a game of this style, is automatic and speeds up over time, but you'll be jumping under your left thumb with accuracy, while your right thumb fires your little gun into your path to try and clear it of enemies that will take away one of your initial three lives.
The keys aren't always the same - pick up a jet-pack and the jump button becomes a thrust button, while if you pick up a pair of robot legs, then the gun no longer works until you lose the legs. But at no point did I get confused with the buttons, even though the player does have opportunities to get very confused.
Alongside the power-ups to help, the enemies to clear, and the gaps to jump over, Running Dude also has the "annoying block" that you might stumble into. These change your perception of the game field. It could be as simple as the whole game tilting 30 degrees on your screen or turning Dude invisible, to a nausea-inducing constant zoom and a 180 degree rotation that forces you to play upside down.
This is what makes the game-play wonderful. Not only are you reacting to the gaps and enemies, but just when you start to get into a little rhythm with what you see on screen, the chances are that what you see on screen will change and you're back to relying on your reactions, rather than trying to spot patterns in the course. Keeping an arcade game all about reactions is not easy, but Running Dude has managed this.
Finally to the presentation, and you can't help but notice in the screenshots that the colours are rather retro. Reminiscent of the Nintendo Gameboy, the shades of green spark memories of monochrome games of my youth. I just love this presentation, and it carries over to the text and menus with 8 bit blocky fonts, and a chip-tune soundtrack that could easily be lifted from a Z80 Zilog processor rather than the MP3 multimedia capability that modern smartphones have.
Running Dude takes a basic game genre and does something special with it. Going retro has a lot of dangers if you don't get the mix just right, but James Spurgeon has found the sweet spot. While I'd like to see him use the Trial functionality in the Marketplace rather than have a free version alongside the full purchasable version, there's not much else blotting the copybook.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at