Review: Turn N Run (Xbox Live)


Last week's Xbox Live release, Turn N Run from Electronic Arts, is a platform game with a unique view on the world... a unique view that can change to give you a whole new set of platforms to run over. But is that enough to make up for some lacklustre design and slow gameplay? 

Author: Electronic Arts (Chilingo)

Version Reviewed:

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Turn N Run is a frustrating game for two reasons. The first is having a capitalised 'N' in the title which just looks and feels wrong. Sometimes you look at a title and wonder what the developers were thinking. Is there any pride on show or, or just a lame attempt to try and be trendy when there is no trend to go over?

Turn N Run

The second is that, while there is a good idea of a game here (changing perspectives, and thus changing where you can walk to), it's implemented in a very poor way, it looks amateurish, and it handles like a wet sponge on ice.

Let's look at the concept first. Some gamers may have seen this idea before in titles like Crush on the PSP, and Super Paper Mario for the Nintendo Wii. In those titles you can move around the world in 2D or 3D, but Turn N Run limits you to moving around a 2D view, even though the world is a 3D world. While playing the game you can see the 2D view, the crystals you need to collect, and the space rocket that represents the end of the level. While you can climb up one level, you are not allowed to jump or fall to reach other inaccessible levels.

This is where the turn of Turn N Run comes in. Swiping your fingers either to the left or to the right will reveal the 3D world and turn it through 90 degrees in respect to your point of view, and returning to a 2D view. This gives you a different set of blocks and platforms to walk along, hopefully giving you more access to crystals, because you need to collect all of them on each level before you get to the rocket.

Turn N Run

Walk, not run. As well as the 'N', the Run is really a walk. There is a rhythm to every game, and the smart designer will make sure that this is higher than the resting pulse of the player so that a sense of excitement and 'must be better and faster' is subtly weaved. That's missing here. The ponderous movement around the platforms and the slow turning of the perspective kills whatever hope the game has of generating any excitement in me.

And then there's the level design. With a concept that allows for four different viewpoints, there is a lot that you could do to be creative. Part of the challenge of a game like Turn N Run is to use the design of the levels to build up puzzles, so that the player must experiment and explore the level to see how to achieve the results. That's not present in Turn N Run's design. It is a strictly linear progression through the levels. There is one path, one sensible direction to change the viewpoint when you reach the end of a platform, and if you simply follow through the direction the level takes you, you complete the level. There's no fun in that at all.

Throw on board some rather basic sound effects and Americana-influenced background music to (not) excite my ears, and some graphics that would look basic and uninspiring twenty years ago, let alone on a modern smartphone in a world of casual games that look far better than this.

Turn N Run

Turn N Run is not only a missed opportunity, it's a frustrating missed opportunity. There is something special in the idea that is used here, but that's the only special thing on show. Everything else smacks of programming to a deadline, with very little heart placed into the final product. Functionally it all works, the game mechanics have been used countless times before, and while the graphics feel rushed, they are fully animated.

I'm struggling to even recommend that you look at the demo of Turn N Run. This really is the ultimate 'meh' game - it gets nothing wrong, but it fails to get anything right. There are far better ways to spend your time than playing this.

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