A Small and Speedy Game Best Enjoyed with Friends
I picked up this game fairly cheap and figured it would be worth trying. First thing I did, as usual, was to start playing the campaign. I call it that because that is what the game calls it. In truth, it is more like an extended tutorial. And not that extended...
That's part of the charm of this game though, it is beauty in simplicity. The "campaign" is basic because the game isn't at its best played in single player, it is built for multiplayer through and through. Similarly, its minimalist graphics aren't an issue because, as I'm sure you can guess, in a game called SpeedRunners you won't have much time to look at your surroundings. The more concise graphics also keep the loading times down to a minimum so you shouldn't spend too long looking at a loading screen.
SpeedRunners is a 2d side scrolling race where the object is to run the other players off the back of the screen. Once the first player falls behind too far, the screen starts to slowly shrink until you have only a moment to react to an obstacle before it could mess up your game. It is quite possible to last quite long on the smallest screen size, but this only makes it more tense and, unfortunately, more crushing when you lose. Item pickups allow you to screw over your fellow players in the same vein as Mario Kart. Each map is played until one player reaches three wins, and the time between rounds is miniscule so the action never slows down too much.
SpeedRunners is a typical "easy to play, difficult to master" game; it's simple enough to get through levels, especially against lower AI levels but mastering wall jumps and grapple swings to find the quickest way through sections is the key to domination.
There is a fairly small number of actual main game maps but that isn't so much of an issue with user-generated content and extra game types. The only problem with that is that these modes have to be unlocked through gameplay. Not necessarily a bad thing, but with roughly three match wins to unlock one thing, you're never sure what you'll unlock each time. It could be a new map, game type, modifier (e.g. lethal spikes, extra rockets etc.) or simply a new skin. This means that if there's something you particularly want you can never be sure just when you might get it, could end up a bit of a grind.
One of the more enjoyable game modes is roulette. Basically with roulette, before the match starts a wheel will spin, deciding the game mode to be applied. It is only limited, offering five options:
- All pickups are grappling hooks
- All pickups are triple rockets
- Super speed
- Reversed maps
- Missiles rain down from the sky
These can add both some extra life into the older maps and a bit more randomness on who wins (especially the Armageddon one).
For those of you for whom it really matters, what your character looks like there is potential for disappointment. Aside from the aforementioned grind for any unlocks like skins, there are only a small number of characters to get skins for in the base game. The rest... MICROTRANSACTIONS. On the plus side, it is only for a different look really, and playing with the maximum four players, it should still give you each a few options, even if you're all just different skins of the same character.
All in all, despite a few shortcomings, it is a genuinely fun game to play, especially when it comes to shouting abuse at your friends when they catch you with a grappling hook (think Mario Kart's infamous blue shell). If you can cope with the moderate grind, or just enjoy playing short, fast-paced games with friends, then this game is definitely worth a go.