Runner 2, or more properly titled Bit.Trip Presents: Runner 2 Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is the latest in the weirdly compelling genre of endless running games. From Canabalt to Jetpack Joyride to Temple Run, games based on a character in perpetual motion have typically been fairly simple, based more on how long you can survive than anything else. Runner 2 breaks that mold in a big way, adding plenty of variety and challenge to a game that offers a great downloadable experience, though the level of difficulty will certainly limit the appeal to pre-teens (at best) and older.
At first, Runner 2 seems quite simple, as you run non-stop from left to right to reach the end of the level while dodging obstacles and enemies along the way. Naturally, it doesn’t stay quite that simple, as the game’s creators add in a whole lot more than just running and jumping, laying in new obstacles and new skills as you progress. Soon you’ll be stringing together rapid fire button presses to jump, slide, kick, block, and more to navigate each level.
The key to success, besides the patience to endure a whole lot of trial and error, is manual dexterity. I’m not kidding when I mentioned the rapid fire presses. Unlike other simpler endless running titles that involve very simple actions, Runner 2 becomes very, very complex (certain to be too complex for younger gamers) with its set of available moves, and certainly doesn’t make it easy on the player. If you fall, collide with an enemy, or run into an obstacle, you’re sent back to either the beginning of the level or a halfway checkpoint, which can definitely add to your frustration level, but in a more-or-less good way.
At the very least, that frustration is tempered by a game that is beautiful to look at. With a simple, hand-drawn art style that animates very fluidly, Runner 2 looks great on your TV or on the GamePad, yet at the same time doesn’t distract from the task at hand.
With five worlds filled with themed levels, bonus stages, retro levels, and characters and costumes to unlock, there’s an impressive level of depth to the game, presuming you’re up for a whole lot of running and re-running and re-running. Online leaderboards provide a score chasing element to the game, but while it’s nice to have, I never really gave it any thought, as simply completing each level was its own reward.
One issue I did run into every time I played the game is that I could never actually quit the game. Instead of shutting off the Wii U, it would freeze the system, requiring me to literally pull the plug on the Wii U. Every single time I played. Haven’t had that happen with any other Wii U title, but there it was with Runner 2.
The GamerPops Recommendation
Runner 2 continues to evolve the endless running genre, throwing in plenty of challenge beyond “everything moves faster”, making it distinctly different from other top choices in the genre like Canabalt and Jetpack Joyride. Obviously, the game is intentionally one-note, but with enough variety and difficulty to keep things moving, it justifies the reasonable price to download. Buy it as a game for adults first though, and not so much one for the whole family.
A review code was provided to GamerPops.