Simple black-and-white game Mr. Runner will keep you running to your phone

Sep 28, 2010
Games

Mr. Runner is a bit of a throwback app. Aside from a few sparse animations of a stick figure being crushed under black blocks, it lacks any sort of visual flair, and its presentation is as bare-bones as you can find in an app. Instead of extraneous bells and whistles, Mr. Runner tries to excel […]

Mr. Runner is a bit of a throwback app. Aside from a few sparse animations of a stick figure being crushed under black blocks, it lacks any sort of visual flair, and its presentation is as bare-bones as you can find in an app.

Instead of extraneous bells and whistles, Mr. Runner tries to excel on the merits of its gameplay alone. It mostly succeeds as a fun game, but could use a bit more polish to be thrown into the category of a must-own game.

The concept in Mr. Runner has the player controlling an endlessly running non-descript stick figure through a black-and-white world. The player can only do two things: Make Mr. Runner slow down, or make him speed up. As Mr. Runner runs through this virtual world, the floor will rise, or the ceiling will drop, crushing the poor stick figure. It’s your goal as the player to position your stick figure man into the spaces where the floor and ceiling don’t converge.

For such a simple concept, Mr. Runner is made much more difficult by making the two buttons essential to the game disappear when you’re not tapping them. This can lead to you frantically tapping the left side of the screen trying to get your stick figure to slow down, only to find the button too late to do anything about his now imminent death.

There are two ways to play Mr. Runner. The first is based on the number of times you’re smashed. The first time you play the mode, you’re allowed to be crushed three times before it’s game over. The next time, you can die four times, and so on. For whatever reason, the number increases rather than just letting you improve at your own pace. This gameplay crutch would be more irritating if there were any sort of record keeping available, which there is not, unfortunately (though the app store description promises that and more in a forthcoming update).

The other way to play Mr. Runner is the timed mode. In this mode, you get X amount of seconds to reach specific checkpoints. The checkpoints are carved-out portions of blocks that resemble famous landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower and more. These designs give an otherwise fairly bland app a little bit of character, and it’s fun to see if you can name every landmark shown.

While it seems like I’m complaining a lot about a game I seem to enjoy, Mr. Runner does make for a fun experience. It’s exhilarating trying to get your runner in place as the world starts to shake, informing you that you’re about to be crushed.

The simplicity of the game certainly works in this instance, leaving no time for players to worry about complex controls, only their own ability to gauge when they ought to slow down the titular character.

If the improvements for a scoring system or scoreboard are put into place, this game will have a lot more longevity than it currently does. Even without it, this warrants a look from app gamers hungry for something a little different.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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