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Runbow Review

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On 07/06/2018 at 09:30 AM by Nick DiMola

Multiplayer mayhem.

If you can put together a crew to enjoy multiplayer, this one's for you. Otherwise, I'd suggest waiting on a sale.

Runbow originally made a splash when it was debuted as a Nindie alongside a small number of other indie games making an exclusive first appearance on the Wii U. Given the fairly thin Wii U library, it quickly became a darling of the Nintendo enthusiast community and its popularity propelled it to other platforms. Coming full circle, Runbow is now available on Switch and its frantic 9 player multiplayer is back in full force. While it’s short an exclusive mode featured there, it offers all the same content as before, just on-the-go, with no compromises like the New 3DS version of the game. As a multiplayer experience, Runbow is chaotic fun, not unlike Smash Bros, but as a single player it’s not quite as entertaining.

Outside of the nine player multiplayer, the key gimmick for Runbow is its cycling background color  that will make platforms or impediments of the same color disappear when they match. Like enemy cycles in other games, staying in tune with the background will often reveal the quickest path or ensure platforms are where they need to be so that you don’t careen into a pit and die. As you can imagine, when there are up-to-eight other players sharing that space with you, it’s easy to fall off cycle, or get knocked off cycle, or for a power-up to throw off the cycles... you get the picture. But that’s all part of the fun.

There’s a degree of skill to it, but largely, making it to the other end of the level and grabbing the trophy comes down to luck when it comes to the multiplayer mode. You can choose your favorite indie characters, like Rusty from SteamWorld Dig or Shantae from her namesake series, which gives the game a bit more flair. And since you unlock these characters as you play the game, despite them not providing any new capabilities, it’s always nice to play as a favorite character from a game or series you love, and it gives you a sense of progression in the experience.

Outside of the core race mode, there’s a Battle mode and a King of the Hill mode. Given the game’s attacks are fairly shallow, Battle mode holds little intrigue, and the King of the Hill mode isn’t quite as frantic and chaotic as the core running, which is the real attraction of Runbow.

If you’re playing the game solo, you can either take the experience online, which I’ve had very little luck with as I can rarely find players, or you can play through one of the two adventure modes (which can also be played with a crew of friends). While I was able to arrange a few family sessions of multiplayer, most of my time with Runbow was spent playing solo and the seams certainly show more when playing in that capacity.

What you start to realize when you play alone is that the collision with platforms and the physics are a little dodgy and inconsistent feeling. I sustained a number of losses due to weird collision as I played through the wealth of challenges available there. Each level comes at a set difficulty denoted by green, yellow, and red, and each level allows you to earn up to three medals. In most cases, I found it fairly easy to pull off the full three medals on my first time through the challenge, especially after I found my footing with the controls and the physics. There’s a certain satisfaction to systematically unlocking levels and filling the board with three medals, but it really does go quickly.

The real challenge is the Bowhemoth mode, which demands players make it through a variety of interconnected rooms without the ability to stop or save along the way. This gruelling quest is where the real challenge lies and players looking to extend their time with the game can keep passing through to achieve the best time.

Though prominently displayed, the Satura’s Space Adventure DLC is not part of the base offering of Runbow in this edition and players will need to purchase it if they’d like to extend that adventure experience out further. It would’ve been nice to have that unlocked out of the gate here, considering it’s a port from older hardware.

As a multiplayer game, the Runbow experience is quite fun, but playing alone, I’d rather play a more polished platformer. The chaos that ensues from having many players in the race is what makes it a challenge, without that any seasoned gamer with platformer experience will breeze right through the single player experience, barring any oddness in the physics and collision. If you’ve got the right set up, like living in college dorms or you’ve got a big group of friends, definitely give Runbow a look, otherwise, you might want to pass or wait on a sale if you think you’ll get the right crew together some of the time.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Matt Snee Staff Writer

07/19/2018 at 11:07 AM

What the hell is this, mang?

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