Last time I looked at a PlayStation Mobile game by Tim Collins (Seeker) I wasn’t too impressed so I didn’t get my hopes up too high when I downloaded Runner from the PSN Store. I could tell from the screenshots that I was in for another 3D game and this time it looked as if it was going to be a tunnel based racer akin to Switch Galaxy but the description was less than inspiring simply telling me to survive as long as possible and get a high score. Undaunted by this, I decided to take the plunge…
As with many of his games, it’s based on a fairly basic idea. In the case of Runner, you’re in control of a craft flying down a 3D tunnel that twists, turns and rotates in all directions. All you have to do is fly down this as long as you can while avoiding the obstacles on the surface of the tunnel coming towards you. A simple concept, but something that has worked so well for games before it like Cannabalt, I Must Run, Temple Run and countless other endless running games that we have seen over the years. In this case, Collins has simply put you in control of a ship and places the game into a more enclosed environment but the basic game idea is still the same minus the jumping.
On loading up you’re hit with the type of presentation you would expect if you have played Seeker – a bland menu screen with the same irritating music that has been used before. Think 80s Z-movie straight-to-VHS horror film and you’re along the right lines. Again, completely out of place and you’ll be thankful for the music off option. Sadly, it’s not present on the front screen where there are only three choices – to play the game, reset / randomise the scores and enter your own name. The in game pause menu is the only place you can stop the music dead in its tracks.
Once you get into the game itself, you’re presented with a filled, textureless 3D tunnel moving quite smoothly at a reasonable pace. You control your ship using the touch screen (sadly no analogue stick controls on this one) and move your ship left or right by touching the appropriate side of the screen. Obstacles come at you at random intervals so you won’t know from one second to the next whether you have to avoid one or two, or a maze of indestructable barriers. The score builds up continuously as you play so you just have to survive as long as possible to get the best score you possibly can. Hit one of the barriers and it’s game over and back to the main menu.
Despite its simplicity, the game is quite enjoyable in a strange way albeit only for short periods of time because of its lack of depth, but the game isn’t without its faults. As you progress through the game, the tunnel changes colour. There’s no real reason for this that I can tell apart from breaking up the visuals and to provide the player with some change of scenery so the lack of any progression does give you the impression that there’s no real objective to what you are doing. One thing I have to say that I did find incredibly frustrating in Runner were the obstacles themselves. With each being a single colour, I did encounter some that ended up being the same colour as the tunnel making them almost impossible to see until it was too late. At the same time, depending on the gradient of the curves in the tunnel, there were frequent blind spots creating moments where obstacles appeared right on top of you meaning that you needed lightning reflexes to be able to avoid them… not easy with a touchscreen interface.
I have to be honest and say that despite the flaws, I did enjoy playing this for a short while. It’s certainly not the best PSM game, nor is it the best game of its genre and won’t keep your attention for too long compared with other PlayStation Mobile games but for the asking price it’s a fun diversion and worth a shot.
At A Glance
- Title: Runner
- Publisher: Tim Collins / Liquid Games
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: N / A
- Cross Play: N / A
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 4Mb