Life’s a beach… or so they say. I don’t know why but some indie developers seem to have a strange compulsion with the seaside. Nostatic Software’s third game in the Quiet Please! series was set in a coastal holiday town, Futurlab released Coconut Dodge so being one of PlayStation Mobile’s most prolific developers, it was only a matter of time before Thomas Hopper did the same and Sea Run is the result…
Sea Run makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s a pretty simplistic game at heart. In the same vein as Canabalt, it’s a continuous running game where your lead character is running non-stop throughout the game and your main goal is to jump over any obstacles that are in your way. Collide with anything and it’s game over. Rather than any urban or futuristic setting, Sea Run takes place on a beach and has the expected seaside obstacles thrown in your way – crabs, sandcastles and the like and rather than the limited jump only controls of its peers, you also have limited vertical movement allowing you to dodge hazards in your path. In addition to the wider view and increased range of movement at your disposal, gone has the double-jump found in similar games replaced with something more fitting… when in the air you can either hold down X or press it for a second time and you’ll use a parasol to extend your jump and glide effortlessly a-la Mary Poppins over larger objects!
Now, there are times when games have storylines that make a real different to what you do and have a real bearing on every decision that you make. Then you have games like Sea Run. It doesn’t matter why you’re running or what is at the end of the beach or even if there is an end to the beach… all that matters is that there’s a beach, you’re running and there are things that you have to jump over. There’s no logical explanation to anything that is actually going on in the game but at the end of the day it doesn’t actually matter. That’s the great thing about this game though – it oozes simplicity and focuses on the gameplay and doesn’t let anything get in the way of that. All you have to worry about is moving and jumping with nothing else to concentrate on. The beach seems to go on forever and to be quite frank you don’t care – you just want to keep going anyway!
Okay, it’s not just about running and jumping. Like all old-school games that involve jumping, there are coins as well. Why, I don’t know – it just does. After a while, coins will start to appear and you just have to grab as many of these as you can. They don’t actually do anything other than boost your score but isn’t that the most important thing here? Naturally, you want to grab as many of them as possible and after a few areas which comprise of nothing but coins, they will appear mixed in with obstacles so you’re faced with the age-old dilemma of deciding whether to chase after coins or concentrating on getting as far as you can.
One thing I particularly loved about this were the graphics and sound. Thomas set out to recreate the look and feel of a Nintendo Gameboy game, using the same resolution and colour palette for the graphics and kept the sound to Nintendo-esque music and sound effects. If you ever owned an original Gameboy, it will bring back waves of nostalgia while you play this and while it’s full of nice touches visually – footprints in the sand (which get washes away when waves crash onto the beach), splashes of water when you run in the sea, and cute albeit function animation on the main character – it feels like a retro game. A winner in my book.
This is a great, fun game and while it’s not something that you’ll be playing for hours on end, it’s addictive and will certainly have you playing over and over to keep trying to beat your personal best scores. Sadly, it’s an anonymous high score table so if other people use your Vita to play there’s no telling who scored what so bragging rights go out of the question and there are no online leaderboards (yet) but the personal challenge is still there which is what made old games so appealing and gives it such a strong “one more go” factor. The level design is completely randomised as well so no two games will be the same which will give it almost unlimited replay value.
The real deal breaker for this has to be the price though… it offers exceptionally good value for money weighing in at an astonishingly low price of £0.40 – you can’t even buy a chocolate bar for that so there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t have this as part of your PlayStation Mobile collection and with an incredibly small file size as well, finding space for it on even the most densely packed memory cards won’t be a problem for any of you either. Just buy this now – you won’t regret it!
At A Glance
- Title: Sea Run
- Publisher: TACS Games
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 8Mb