Side scrolling platform games aren’t exactly ground-breaking these days.
Indeed, I think they – like most genres of games – are getting pretty tiresome because of how repetitive they are.
You may recall in my 2012 Year End Awards I gave Rayman Origins a Runner-Up prize for Most Overrated Game of the Year.
The reason for that is the lack of a challenge. You move from one end of a course to another, jumping over things in your own time, safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to lose. So it really becomes quite futile.
It wasn’t always that way. Take one of my very favourite games of all time, Super Mario Land on the Gameboy. I played that game to death. As a child I would play it time and time and time again, repeating the same levels over and over without a care in the world. Why? Because it was relatively fresh at the time but also because you couldn’t just save wherever you liked. The challenge was to beat the game with the small amount of lives you were given. If you couldn’t complete the whole game in one go, you couldn’t complete the game full stop.
But that’s not what modern side scrolling platform games are like.
Games like Rayman Origins, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Warioland: The Shake Dimension, Kirby’s Epic Yarn and plenty more have sucked the life out of the genre by making it all too easy. Even the king of the side scroller – Mario – is not safe
from it anymore. I picked up my brother’s copy of Super Mario 3D Land the other day – forgetting I’d actually finished it, which shows how memorable it is – and noticed that on completion of the game I had over 130 lives. Where’s the challenge there?
Well, it seems like games makers believe the way to offer value for money is to give off the pretence of replayability. They know you’ll finish the game in a few hours and they know it offers no real sense of achievement, so they do things like offering you the chance to play the game backwards, or encourage you to go back and collect every coin, statue, star or prize. But who does that? Where’s the fun?
And the kicker is that each of the games I mention retails at £30-£45. That’s the real problem. Compared to games like FIFA, Football Manager, Borderlands 2 or Call of Duty, the replay value or game length simply isn’t there to justify the cost.
Now with all that said, I’m actually going to review a side scrolling platform game that I’ve played and completed over the past couple of days – Food Run for iOS. I played it on the iPad.
What Is It?
Well obviously it’s a side scrolling 2D platformer, where you control an egg and his foody followers in a colourful cartoon environment.
Gameplay is very basic. You touch the screen to make him jump. The longer you hold the touch, the higher or further he jumps. Simple, but effective.
Here’s the thing.
This game is no less challenging than any of the 2D platformers I mention above. Indeed, it probably gets more challenging with its smooth and steady learning curve.
The first levels are piss easy, the last ones will have you tearing your hair out, but they are manageable. Games like Ms. Splosion Man have proved themselves to be so ridiculously difficult that they become an exercise in frustration.
It’s a responsive and easy to manage game, there are collectibles that you can pick up – even though it makes absolutely no difference to completing it – and it looks and sounds nice.
Well, I say it sounds nice, but it has one of those soundtracks that you’ll quite like when you play it, but anyone else in the room with you who has to listen to it over and over again will want to kill you eventually.
Really, it’s a by-the-numbers platform game. No different to any of the other ones I mention above in that you don’t have a lives limit that will send you back to the start, and that replay value is artificially extended by the want to go back and collect all the coins/followers.
There are however, two exceptions.
1) It doesn’t have checkpoints. So if you die you have to go all the way back to the start of the level each time. This made the last few levels challenging, and it gave me a sense of achievement when I finished it.
2) This game doesn’t cost £40, it costs £2.
So you pay £2, you get three or four hours of play time out of it, you enjoy it, and you finish it.
And that’s the crucial difference. I don’t want or need to play it again, but I got three hours of utility out of £2. That’s good. That offers far more than what Nintendo give us these days.
It’s not trying to be something it’s not. You pay your money and you get a fair return on it.
Should You Buy Food Run?
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Food Run.
It is what it is; £2 for a few hours game time. It offers a reasonable challenge and you feel like you’ve got your money’s worth when you finish it.
Give it a go; it’s no worse than any of the ‘big name’ games out there, and actually manages to seem more fluid and look shinier.