Don't call it a comeback. It's been here for months.
Believe it or not, the most popular free iPhone and iPad title is a crude little game from dirtyBit called Fun Run: Multiplayer Race. It debuted a few months ago, but has seen a grand resurgence, thanks to a new update that delivered iPhone 5 support, seven additional maps, another avatar and various bug fixes. We didn't have the privilege of enjoying the previous edition, so excuse us for not making comparisons. The verdict? Not as bad as it looks.
Fun Run is sort of like Mario Kart, mixed with a 2D side scrolling platformer, and what's especially interesting is the fact that it includes four-person online play against friends or random opponents. That being said, the goal is to make it from point A to point B by any means necessary. This is where the Mario Kart inspiration comes into the equation, as you're able to pick up random weapons and items during a race and use them against the opposition. One of the weaker ones lets you drop a block anywhere along the terrain, impeding a person's progress. Far more intriguing is the bear trap and saw blade, both of which reduce furry little creatures to bloody chunks; there's also a lightning strike and protective shield. Suffice to say, you'll need to keep your eyes on the screen at all times, lest you fall victim to one of these weapons. At least on the positive side, you respawn within seconds.
What ensues is a mad scramble for the finish line, as players do whatever it takes to one-up the competition. There are only two buttons, one for using items, the other for jumping, and it's possible to leap over obstacles and climb-up walls; take that, Mario and Sonic.
Getting sliced and diced is a huge downer, especially when you're an inch or two away from victory. At the same time, this happens to just about everyone, making it possible to go from last to first in no time.
Despite the small adrenaline rush that comes from winning, and the mostly seamless online connectivity, there's no denying Fun Run's barebones presentation. Its 2D visuals give an all-new meaning to basic, and there's little to this game, outside of races. The developers let you customize your critter with accessories, none of which appear to influence its performance in any conceivable way.
Taking this into account, Fun Run: Multiplayer Race's popularity is slightly puzzling, given the sheer number of free games on the App Store, but it's clear dirtyBit's onto something. Might as well enjoy its time in the spotlight.
What's Hot: Four-player online races, handful of weapons to torture the competition with, watching adorable critters get chopped to bits, accessories, free-to-play.
What's Not: Lackluster graphics, crude death animations, not much depth.