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Run Roo Run

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

You won't roo the day you bought this

Product: Run Roo Run | Developer: 5th Cell | Format: iPhone | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
Run Roo Run iPhone, thumbnail 1
Sometimes, being clever and being simple are the same thing. That seems to be the design philosophy behind Run Roo Run, an original iOS platformer from 5th Cell, developer of Scribblenauts.

Boiled down to its bare, kangaroid bones, it's little more than a garish reaction-tester that sees you tapping the screen to hurl the titular Roo over obstacles.

In reality, it's a distilled shot of platforming genius - a deconstructed and rebuilt pocket gaming experience that perfectly understands the limitations of iOS play, and comes tantalisingly close to greatness because of that.

Roo-n for your life

The game is the story of Roo, whose joey has been kidnapped. It's your job to bound across Australia, from Perth to Sydney, in a bid to get him back. Standing between you and success are 420 tiny levels.

These levels are broken up into 20 distinct stages, each of which introduces a new mechanic. Your kangaroo automatically runs from left to right, and you control her jumps by tapping anywhere on the screen. If you fail, the game leaves a mark on the level where you tapped last time, letting you recalculate your leaps.

As the game progresses you'll be double-jumping, wall-grabbing, firing yourself out of cannons, rolling around in barrels, and using portals to catapult yourself over cacti. Levels last a matter of seconds, and you'll have polished them all off in no more than a couple of hours.

I'll get roo

Of course, that's not the whole story. Once you've finished each group of 15 levels you unlock another six 'extreme' levels. These call for pixel-perfect timing, clever planning, and quite a lot of luck.

There's a time-based scoring system in play, too, with gold stars being awarded for completing each level within a set time. Some of these are easy to get, while others are fiendish to the point of blasphemy.

In spite of its diminutive size, Run Roo Run still manages to produce an alarming amount of tension. Leaping in quick succession over barricades of spiky undergrowth, even though it's over in the blink of an eye, really sets the heart racing.

Rooted in the past

The game is gorgeous, too, with a cartoon style that pays homage to some of the great platforming titles of the past. Roo makes a charming central character, and there are some cheeky nods to current smartphone gaming favourites along the way.

Run Roo Run is a platform game for the ADHD generation - its only problem is that sometimes it's sliced a little too thinly. Most of the levels are designed to perfection, but a select few stray a little too far to the easy side of the difficulty curve, while others ask too much of you too soon.

Nevertheless, it's an impressive and entertaining achievement, showcasing 5th Cell's ability to build games that fit snugly onto the hardware they're designed for. Run Roo Run is an experience that wouldn't work anywhere else, and that's where the real genius of this simple little platformer lies.

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Run Roo Run
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 13 January 2012
Addictive and quick fire, Run Roo Run is a perfect example of tailored iOS design, although it'll be over a little too quickly for some
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