Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Media coverage of videogames often swings into one of two categories: “Games are evil and are destroying civilization” or “Games aren’t just for kids now, grown-ups play them too!” In this entire hullabaloo, it’s easy to overlook the fact that games can be unpretentious, undiluted vessels of pure delight.
Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien is a side-scrolling platform game bursting with colour and brimming with charming, clever ideas. A knowing, cheesy voiceover gives us a little exposition of the sci fi story, but it’s not really important. What’s important is that you play a silhouette with a white visor – like a running stick of liquorice – and your goal is to run from one side of a level to another.
The “Runner” never stops, and you can’t control his pace. There’s no deliberating on when to make a jump or how to handle an enemy. You just barrel along, ducking, leaping, bouncing and blocking your way through. Every little obstacle has a specific solution, which you must find in split-second time. It’s mercilessly playable and addictive.
The presentation is lovely: Our hero leaves a small trail of confetti in his wake, which accumulates to a rainbow over time. Your progress and little triumphs are praised with declarations of “Super!” and “Amazing accomplishment!”. Each level ends with a burst of sparkle and balloons. There are also retro levels hidden throughout, which pay tribute to games of yore.
The music pulsates to the action, and every minor accomplishment creates a musical note. These little signals chime in harmony with one another, so it feels like you’re making music as you play.