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Rock Runners

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

God dammit, Marie, they're minerals

Product: Rock Runners | Developer: Recoil Games | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
 
Rock Runners iPhone, thumbnail 1
Difficulty can be a delicate balance. Make your game too hard and most players will smash their iPhone into a billion bits in a catastrophic rage. But make it too easy and there's no satisfaction when you win.

Rock Runners often veers too close to the "easy" end of the spectrum.

Here's how it works. In each level, your pint-size hero automatically dashes from left to right, leaving you to concentrate on timing jumps and getting the perfect angle on a daredevil swing over a puddle of toxic goo.

But you can essentially stumble through the entire game like a wounded gazelle, missing half the gems, falling at crucial jumps, and running into walls before unceremoniously tripping over the finish line.

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There are too many safety nets and too few consequences for failure. Success is almost a foregone conclusion, so it's not very satisfying to achieve it.

Star soldier

You only need to get to the end to complete the level, but each stage has two extra challenges on offer. They might involve collecting a certain percentage of the gems, or getting to the finish line under a time limit.

Unlike most games with a three-star scoring system, Rock Runners doesn't require you to win loads of stars before you unlock the next stage.

IAPs explained
Rock Runners has a shop with handy items like a gem magnet, a shield, and a gem multiplier. You can top-up on currency with in-app purchases, but I earned enough gems through play to buy all the items I needed.

You can also buy keys to unlock certain levels. Again, I found enough keys to get through the game without grinding, and those levels are often completely optional.

And, finally, you can pay 69p / 99c to unlock all four worlds. In my opinion, the game's good enough that you won't want to skip any of the content.
So the onus is really on you to push yourself, and go after those challenges. You need to learn the levels, hone your strategy, and understand the way your little bobblehead character moves and jumps.

Because that's when Rock Runners is at its best. When it becomes a tense, unblinking, white-knuckle dash to the exit, as you nail every jump, bounce over every obstacle, and exit every swing with split-second timing.

Easy does it

But those moments are sadly few and far between. Those extra stars are often way too lenient - especially the timed ones. Even on the fourth and final world, you can stumble and fall and still coast under the par time needed for a star.

So what's the point in pushing yourself to perfection, if mediocrity is good enough?

Rock Runners does eventually get more challenging. It just takes a hell of a long time to get there, and after trudging through endless levels that feel awfully repetitive.

The four worlds are so similar you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart. They are four different mining colonies, which means that giant pipes, metal barrels, whirring drill bits, and chunky girders are the order of the day. On every single level.

At its best, Rock Runners is a fantastic game - a thrilling platformer with a joyful sense of speed and agility that matches the like of Rayman Jungle Run. But it's spoiled by homogeneous levels, and a difficulty curve so gentle you couldn't roll a rock down it.


 
Rock Runners
Reviewer photo
Mark Brown | 14 February 2013
Rock Runners is an excellent platformer with loads of content, but it's let down by an all-too gentle difficulty curve and repetitive levels
 
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Joined:
Jul 2012
Post count:
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Contest Chris | 09:56 - 14 February 2013
And you give an 8?
 
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