Retroshifter is an 8-bit-styled, dystopian, 2D auto-runner. Players take control of a human running across an endless bridge in front of the backdrop of a futuristic city’s skyline. As they run, though, they’re confronted with laser barriers: one high, one low, and another in between. In order to break through them, the player has to swipe up to make them jump high, right to make them leap in front, and down to roll. Initially all of the barriers are blue, but after the first round of jumping the character is faced with green, red, and then yellow lasers. To break through these the player has to use a four-coloured grid in the corner of the screen to correlate the characters’ colour with that of the barrier. Tap green and roll through a green barrier and you’re fine, but jump towards a red barrier while using blue and you’ll lose a heart.
The further the character runs the more coins you accrue. These can be used to purchase single-use power-ups, upgrades such as an increase in health, and new outfits; as the game becomes faster the further you progress, upgrades are an essential buy. Coins can also be purchased witch actual money, but there are other ways of collecting them: as your character levels up you’re rewarded in-game currency, and bonuses are awarded for correctly passing through barriers consistently.
Retroshifter is by far the best auto-running game to have been released in recent memory.
Retroshifter is by far the best auto-running game to have been released in recent memory. Theoretically it’s an easy genre to master; they usually require just the swipe of a finger to play and the settings usually remain the same as you progress. The best auto-runners put more emphasis on features such as environment, upgrades, and music, though, all aspects that Retroshifter gets spot on. Its futuristic setting is different, and coupled with the 8-bit graphics makes the game look great. There are enough power-ups, upgrades, and new outfits to unlock to keep players entertained for weeks, if not months. Then the music – something reminiscent of Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack – adds to the sci-fi feel, while increasing the feelings of tension and anxiety as the gameplay increases in speed. Together they make for a rushed but fun experience: exactly the kind to get your blood pumping while on the go.
Auto-runners have become the stalwarts of the app industry, with even Nintendo attempting to have a slice of the action in Super Mario Run. It’s hard to imagine exactly how far such games can go, considering their lack of complexity. Yet Retroshifter shows that interesting changes can be made to the genre, and that the simple style of game isn’t dead – just yet.