By: Matthew Striplen
Imagine if you will, some great power combined Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart and Super Mario. After adding a few tweaks, what we get is Runbow, a gorgeous, frantic game with nonstop action. Seriously, if you stop to breathe, you’ll get left behind, but that’s part of what makes this game so fun. So, grab your buddies and get ready to sprint through the ever changing world of Runbow.
The control scheme is pretty simple, as players are only capable of running, jumping and attacking. Just about everything is very responsive and precise, though the attacking can sometimes feel a little sluggish. Also, I wish that the characters had multiple running speeds, like in Mario games. The controls, simplistic as they are, get the job done.
Anyone who sees Runbow is bound to fall in love with its art style. The sheer vibrancy of color makes them all pop, no matter what the hue may be. The cartoonish and outlandish looking characters add plenty of spice to an already exciting roster. Plus, the environments just look spectacular. The color of the levels themselves makes sure they never look repetitive or boring. I couldn’t ask for anything more from a visual standpoint.
The sound design impresses just as much as the graphics. The pumping Latin beats really get your blood going and reflect the game’s frenetic pace. Every track is just a blast to hear.
Runbow features a handful of different game modes, most of which center around running to a finish line. Players must traverse all sorts of hazards, like lava or bottomless pits, but the most unique feature comes in the form of color.
Each stage has an overall color scheme that changes every few seconds. Many of the platforms needed to complete the levels also come in different colors, so when the background matches the platforms, they disappear. This makes what would otherwise be a fairly average platforming title something totally original.
Color shifts happen slowly at first but come much more quickly in the harder levels. Many levels feature color waves instead of shifts, which makes several different colors wipe across the screen at the same time.
Each game mode functions a little differently. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Run Mode faces the players against a set number of randomly selected courses. Players have only one life to reach the end, so be careful. If you’re playing multiplayer, which supports up to nine players, only the person who finishes first gets a point. Losers and those who died get nothing. There are plenty of power-ups scattered along the way, too. Whoever has the most points at the end wins!
Arena functions as a mixture between a battle royale and survival. Players are put into a very hazardous environment and must fight to survive. The last one standing gets points. Since Runbow doesn’t offer A.I. players, this mode is not available to single players.
King of the Hill works pretty much as expected. Players must battle for control of the “Hill” and hold it for a certain amount of time. If you die, you’ll just be respawned after a few moments. Again, this mode only works in multiplayer.
Color Master is similar to Run, but with one important twist: the player using the Wii U Gamepad is the Color Master and must prevent other players from reaching their goal. Color Masters have a wide variety of weapons at their disposal, like paint splotches to make platforms disappear, or bombs to kill the runners on sight. No single-player mode.
Adventure mode puts the players on a map where individual levels can be selected. Each one is color coded to indicate its difficulty and prizes are given depending on the clear time. Eventually, you’ll fight your way to a final boss. Luckily, this mode does offer single-player functionality.
Lastly, is Bowhemouth. This is a lot like Adventure, but without the ability to choose the next level. Also, the stages are very challenging. Like Adventure, Bowhemouth also supports single player.
If you don’t have any buddies around to play with, never fear! Online functionality enables lonely gamers to use any of the modes open only to multiplayer. Sadly, the community seems small at the moment, so getting enough people to play a match may take a while. Also, lag often takes its toll on the experience.
One of the most fun extras in Runbow is the player’s character choices. The roster has a few generic characters, but it also features famous indie protagonists like Shovel Knight and Juan from Guacamelee! All the characters can do taunts, which usually reference their home game.
Runbow is a fantastic and innovative party game. Although 2D platforming is almost as old as video gaming itself, Runbow manages to give us something fresh and innovative. Each game mode packs plenty of variety to keep players engaged. Although the single player and online modes are fun, local multiplayer outshines everything else by far. If you’re looking for some fast-paced action and have a bunch of gamer buddies, Runbow will not disappoint.