Thanks in large part to games like Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride, the endless-runner concept has become one of the more reliable and successful game designs on mobile devices. These games work just fine with the limited control options provided by touch screens, and they thrive on interesting visuals and fun environments. Considering this, they’re really a mobile developer’s dream. Inevitably, however, a few endless runners—like the aforementioned titles and others such as Sonic Dash and Tiny Wings HD—have risen to the top of the heap, making the category seem limited. In truth, there are dozens of these games out there, and I wanted to point out a few good ones you may have missed.
If you’re much of a fan of browser gaming, you may have come across Robot Unicorn Attack among Adult Swim’s games, and there’s a chance it changed your life. Armed with an intoxicating soundtrack (“Always” by Erasure on loop) and a dream-like design, the game challenges you to sprint and leap along as a “robot unicorn,” collecting magical butterflies and occasionally unleashing a “rainbow attack” to burst through an obstacle. A session lasts three lives (which are called “wishes”), and it’s absolutely guaranteed that once you finish you’ll be determined to beat your top score. For some time now, the exact same game has been available in app form, and it’s really as fine an endless runner as there is.
Despite a cluttered title and simple design, “Roman Soldier Runner” is a strangely satisfying game. Basically, you control a Roman Centurion sprinting along a landscape wielding a spear and leaping over columns and such, with a traditional Roman structure in the 2D background. In part, it appeals because it’s just a no-nonsense runner. However, it’s also interesting because of its setting, with Roman soldiers being surprisingly underutilized in arcade gaming. Gala Bingo’s selection features a “Centurion” slot game, despite its primary focus being on themed bingo rooms. And just as the bingo games attract players through themes and characters. Centurion makes use of a “Roman soldier” and imagery of ancient Roman warfare to attract players, but aside from this game. Romans in modern arcade gaming are few and far between, and that adds to the draw for this particular runner.
This may be a more popular app than either of the previous two, but I’m betting a lot of endless runner fans have overlooked the game due to the assumption that it’s just another superhero game. Indeed, “Spider-Man” isn’t exactly rare in the app store. Multiple titles (including this one) are featured among Gameloft’s mobile games, and there are a few larger Marvel games that use the character. For the most part, all of these examples are either brawlers, RPGs, or adventure games based on specific films. “Spider-Man Unlimited”, on the other hand, is a third-person runner using hand-drawn, comic-style Spidey settings and characters to create an awesome atmosphere. As a runner, it’s actually more varied and enjoyable than most of its competitors, but the beautifully rendered Spider-Man designs put it over the top as possibly the very best game in its category.
Again, there are dozens of additional endless runners out there. Nevertheless, these three games should highlight a nice variety and make the point that there’s greatness in this genre beyond the few viral games at the top.
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