Chillingo's Rock Runners has a cool 90s vibe that makes it feel like something we would have played on Sega Genesis, but we're just as happy to have it on iPhone and iPad. Set in the distant future, this bite-sized platformer challenges players to guide a helmet wearing, death-defying runner through more than 140 tricky stages clearly designed for multiple plays. Not just to improve a person's score, but to gather up all the crystals and collectible goodies that prove useful the further he or she progresses.
It's sort of like an endless-runner, except levels only last a couple of minutes, which is perfectly fine, seeing as how it makes restarts far less painful. That being the case, boards come with a variety of hazards to avoid, from purple sludge to enemy robots and spinning drills. Completing each stage 100 percent will take plenty of skill, but players never wrestle with the controls. On the contrary, they couldn't be simpler.
Tap to jump, and that's the basic gist of it. By quickly pressing the screen at just the right moments, gamers will be able to reach ledges, leap over bad guys and dash straight into the goal. Meanwhile, pressing and then holding the screen at specific points allows the runner to use a grapple beam to swing to safety, a device that proves useful for navigating across the aforementioned toxic goop. We also dig the blue and orange portals that ferry the runner to new areas, a clear nod to Valve's Portal games if we ever saw one.
As for collectibles, the developers at Recoil Games tossed hundreds of gems throughout a stage, along with keys to unlock new levels and other goodies. Once players amass enough precious stones, they can visit the shop and acquire power-ups like the Gem Magnet that attracts gems, a Power Shield to protect the character and even three additional heroes; naturally, there's an option to buy gems through in-app purchase.
Ideally, an endless mode would have topped off the game nicely, but for now, Rock Runners is a smart mix of old and new school design, wrapped in a joyful platforming experience iOS users will dig for weeks. Kudos to everyone involved.
Review code provided by Chillingo.
What's Hot:Over 140 tricky stages to master, grappling and using portals, gathering collectible items, slick sci-fi presentation, one-touch controls.
What's Not:No endless mode.