Forget witty sayings and fancy marketspeak; sometimes, Less is just… Less. Releasing a shockingly-standard ‘endless runner’ more or… less, narrows down the definition your game can achieve to a few sentences. Looking like a leftover Game Boy project is one of… well, really the only thing, that Star Runner ($1.00) can claim as interesting.
It’s one-button basic, with you using jumps to stay ahead of the scrolling screen and dodge the zombie horde, all the while throwing children and old folks into their path to facilitate your own escape. Yeah, chivalry is dead, and you‘re quite literally stomping on its head, as that is the objective. A poorly-done one at that, too, as the timing for your pedestrian jumps (successful hits also add to your score) never manages to feel quite right, even after you’ve been at it for an hour or better.
True to form, the puke-colored assets don’t allow much visual creativity, but there is a decent amount of level variety that sees you running through yards, across moving airplanes, cavorting with ninjas, smashing through windows, etc. This too, is another potential benefit partially offset by careless design, as early on (say, stage 1-3), you’re tripped up by barriers and hazards that don’t look like barriers and hazards, or by enemies that show no immediately-clear path around them. Repetition sets in quickly, forcing restart after restart until you learn the proper route through frustration, rather than any clever layout or use of skill.
Later levels may ditch the ‘following threat’ of zombies, but only accentuate these mechanical troubles, adding projectile-tossing baddies (groooaannnn) and even more timing-based obstacles to hurtle over or through, finishing off what‘s left of your patience.
So, in the end, less is just less. Humor and best intentions aside, Star Runner trips and falls flat on its green face. There’s far too many marks to tally against its already simplistic ideas, and the Game Boy aesthetics can’t do enough to make a nostalgic difference.