Tag Archives: endless runner

REVIEW: Bopscotch

For all its many bright, colorful levels, numerous ‘costume changes’, and ball-shaped characters leaping throughout, Bopscotch ($2.99) is still an endless runner. Well, I suppose if you want to get technical, it’s an endless bouncer. There’s no ‘jumping’, per se. At any rate, you’re still stuck on auto-run, testing your reflexes and overcoming the same obstacles / hazards you’ve dodged and ‘cheated death’ from thousands of times over1.

And yet, ‘bouncing’ your way through each stage brings a subtle variation to the formula that is both mildly-refreshing and annoyingly-perverse. More on that later, first the details. Bopscotch features an assortment of customizable ball avatars2, called ‘boppers’, and offers up over 90 stages of well-designed— and yes, occasionally frustration-fueled— deathtraps and spikes, sprinkling in some additional tricks as you go along, like sudden speed changes, one-way signs, and breakable floors / ceilings to open up new paths.

You’re gathering candy as you go (which equates to your score), but the goal is, as always, misleadingly-simple: reach the exit of each level unscathed, and move on to the next. Of course, that objective and its cheery visuals are a lie; this is a masochistic endless runner, and you’re going to die, my friend. A lot. Instant retries are unlimited, natch, and there is the Willy Wonka-esque ‘golden ticket’, a single-use item that is occasionally handed out, and which permits you to skip the current stage in exchange.

Which you may need. Rather than traverse the game’s many dangers the old-fashioned way, Bopscotch‘s round-ish fellows are quite good at bouncing, forcing an entirely-different method of of movement and timing on the player. In addition to allowing more space to line up jumps, you can also tweak your speed on land and in the air, which is vital to crossing some gaps and ‘threading the needle’ between spikes. The tutorial level gives you the basics, but you’ll still need a bit of time to adjust to Bopscotch‘s particular cadence, if you will.

Bopscotch - Screen

Can be more complicated than it looks.

That adjustment is mostly painless, mind you, but it does throw a wrench into the traditional machine of understanding endless runners. The levels themselves are pre-set sequences, fun to figure out but built to be completed in a certain way, one that requires nigh-perfect timing on your part. Given the genre the game belongs to, you can expect to replay some stages over and over, along with all the colorful language that results from it.

In that way, Bopscotch is no different than something like, say, The Impossible Game. Clever idea and ‘ball cosplay’ aside, it’s designed to frustrate over long periods of time. You’ll find ample challenge and more than ample content (besides the 90+ level ‘Adventure’ mode, there’s a two-player local race option), but you still have to know what you’re getting yourself into. Proceed from there.

  1. Only to die a thousand deaths more in the next level or game. Vicious circle, Life’s a Bitch, [insert hopeless fatalism here], etc. 
  2. Knights, Teachers, Mummies, and the like; change your color, or swap out hats and shirts as you please, with new items unlocked for completing a series of levels. Hardly in-depth stuff, but hey, it’s fun for the dress-up crowd. 

REVIEW: Star Runner

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.

Star Runner - Screen

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.


Review on Indie Gamer Chick