Party games are back on the rise, sure everyone loves playing immersive solo adventures or spending several hours online adventuring with people far and wide, but every now and again nothing beats inviting your mates over and trouncing them in a bit of friendly competition. From 13AM Games comes a game that’s concept is extremely simple yet oozes so much charm it’ll win over players of all ages and skill. Runbow grabs players interest with its fast-paced platforming fun combined with a very unique colour mechanic that’s sure to mess with your heads.
At its core Runbow is just your standard platformer that’ll have you traversing caves, forests and rivers all to reach the goal at the end of the world. What sets it apart is its unique colour mechanic. Several platforms and obstacles are made of many different colours, that doesn’t sound like much but that’s where the constantly changing backgrounds come into the mix. Backgrounds periodically sweep between colours, when they match the colour of the platforms littering the environment they vanish into thin air. Essentially then platforming boils down to timing.
The whole appeal of Runbow centres around its multiplayer capabilities. A total of 9-players can jump into the multicolour fray. As for the other modes there are another three exclusive multiplayer challenges with an additional two, one acting as the games story the other as a special challenge. Part of the games charm is that it’s easy to play; people of any skill are able to pick up the controls. You have a jump, an attack and a taunt, excluding the latter this is essentially a two button game. That said there is a nice amount of depth to the controls, double tapping attack or combining it with a direction or jump means you can utilise aerial dashes and butt pounds.
Nine people being able to play at once means there has to be multiple ways to play; Wii remote, Wii remote plus nunchuck, Classic/Pro controller or Gamepad so there’s no reason not to get involved. There’s a great variety of modes available to challenge players of all skill. Race is just what it sounds like, a straight race across caverns and spike filled pits to reach the trophy at the end of the level. Deathmatch pits you in a battle against your friends to be the last man standing and King of the Hill challenges players to hold onto the crown for as long as they can. Colour Master though is arguably the most entertaining mode; players must combine their efforts to take down the player using the gamepad. Why? Because they have the ability to switch up the background colour at will, can drop bombs and shock players into submission. Of course if your mates aren’t present you can always hop online to challenge the rest of the gaming community. Offline or online most levels playout fairly smoothly but then there are those moments when performance drops for a second. You could wind up missing important jumps or get taken out by water spurts that have materialised from nowhere.
While this games main focus is on multiplayer mayhem you don’t have to have friends around to enjoy this game. On offer are two single player modes. The first is adventure where you can experience several different scenarios in over 100 different levels. Most are your simple reach the goal targets, but there are the occasional obtain set number of items, eliminate so many enemies goals and of course boss fights against the femme fatale Satura. Each level offers up a number of medals, the payoff for collecting these art concepts, skins and characters. The second mode is Bowhemoth which sees you trying to escape the belly of an enormous monster. The mode is the most challenging in the game with you tackling scenarios consecutively, with no saves and a constant onscreen reminder of your running death toll. Depending on your patience Bowhemoth can take anything from 30 minutes to several hours. My personal score was around 45 minutes with 100+ deaths.
When playing with friends you don’t really notice just how taxing levels can be, you shrug them off and laugh at your mates’ failures. Then comes the time when you’re left to play alone and you come to the realisation that these levels are actually a lot more difficult then you originally thought. Even the slightest of miss timed jumps could result in death. Certain stages made me want to hammer throw the Wii U gamepad through the television. Yet I couldn’t stop playing. Runbow is frighteningly addictive; even after dozens of deaths there is still that drive pushing you on to complete scenarios to gain that sense of achievement.
For a game that revolves around the use of colour it’s crucial that it utilises a nice colour palette. Runbow doesn’t disappoint in that regard, environments are bright, vibrant and varied. The key feature of the visuals however comes down to the character skins. Achieving records in the game like taunting a number of times or squash several enemies, nets you with changeable character skins, which take the form of several Wii U indie game protagonists. Shovel Knight, Rusty (SteamWorld Dig), Scram Kitty, Juan and Tostada (Guacamelee!) plus more all make special guest appearances.
Runbow is a fantastic experience whether you’re adventuring alone or running amuck with some mates. There’s a huge amount of content to try out and enjoy from the various different modes, the huge amount of content and staggering number of playable scenarios. The whole colour switching mechanic makes for some interesting, varied and frighteningly addictive gameplay that’ll eat up great quantities of your time.
This review is based off a review code of Runbow provided by 13AM Games.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.