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RunGunJumpGun in Review – Intense, Addictive Fun

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Welcome to Flappy Bird 2.0.  The protagonist has a gun, the obstacles fight back and if you want to truly “complete” each stage you’ll need to have a reaction time that borders on crazy.  If you’re not into “retro” gaming you might be put off by the screen shots, but you really shouldn’t let that deter you from trying this game.  From the moment I first loaded it up I was hooked, and it gets better with each section and world that you unlock.  The only thing you might want to consider is either having a pile of pillows nearby or putting an Otterbox type case on your device for when you inevitably throw it out of frustration (if you are that type of person).

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You play a scavenger, and your job is to invade several worlds and collect as many Atomiks as you can.  These little collectibles aren’t required to pass a level, but you’ll need them to unlock additional worlds.  The plus side is that you can keep playing levels until you “get it right” or you can move on and the go back when you’re ready to try and conquer a previous level again.  The down side is that some levels might throw you for such a loop that you won’t want to go back and try them again.  Most of the levels are pretty short, which can actually be somewhat daunting when you realize that you keep dying right before the exit to the level.  Also, the initial level set teases you with waypoints that don’t seem to exist in any other level sets, even though there are some levels that could certainly benefit from at least one save point in the middle of the level.  When you combine the lack of save points with no power ups or shields of any sort, this game was definitely made with the hard core gamer in mind.

The control scheme is rather interesting.  Your scavenger is always running, and you tap the left side of the screen to fly and the right side to fire your weapon.  Actually, both sides fire your gun; it’s just that when you tap on the left you point your gun downwards, effectively using the gun’s discharge to propel you to new heights.  The flying part reminds me a lot of Flappy Bird, where there’s a slight pause before you ascend, which then tends to be a bit choppy, and you fall immediately when you let go.  When you press the right side of the screen the recoil of the gun actually makes you move a bit more slowly, and you can actually execute this move while in the air.  This sometimes can work to your advantage, but often causes you to fall of the left side of the screen.  One technique that’s actually kind of interesting is that you can hold down one side of the screen and then periodically tap the other to change the way that you are firing.  This can be helpful in some cases, but if you forget that you’re pressing both sides of the screen when you let go of one side the action you’re still performing on the other could prove to be perilous.

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There are three leaderboards through Game Center, and as of this writing two of them remain relatively untouched.  There are also 20 achievements to earn, but it seems their significance is being downplayed by the fact that they are only worth a point apiece.  The true thrill from a game like this should be in completing each level, and it definitely is, especially if you manage to collect all of the Atomiks on a given level.  And with 120+ levels in the game, that’s a lot of thrill to have.

I’m a huge fan of retro, pixel style graphics, but this goes beyond that in a cool way.  Rather than emulating NES or Master System style visuals, these pixels seem to capture a super HD ZX Spectrum look.  The color palettes simply enhance that concept, giving the game an appearance not seen often in iOS games.  The cut scenes are great as well, with characters that look like 8 bit rejects from a Mad Max movie.  The music is wonderful, and while it seems to transcend the 30 year old environment the game tries to capture I don’t mind a bit.  I also like the garble-speak the characters use during the cut scenes.  My only complaint aesthetically is that the sound effects during game play can actually detract from the music, especially the overwhelming thump of the gun.  While you have the option of turning off the sound effects, I would simply prefer the ability to make them a bit quieter.

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In the end it’s fair to say that I am a big fan of RunGunJumpGun.  I’m not always keen on the “die a hundred times before you complete a level” philosophy, but in this case it works and helps make this an addictive game.  The aesthetics embody modern retro, the levels are satisfying without needing lots of extras to reward you, and the game play manages to survive and thrive without the need for a plethora of upgrades and power ups.  The control can be a bit frustrating if you’re not a good twitch gamer, and the sound effects sometimes drown out the music, but those minor quibbles don’t stop this from being a top notch arcade experience.

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App Summary
Title: RunGunJumpGunDeveloper: Gambitious Digital Entertainment
Reviewed Ver:1.0.1Min OS Req: iOS 6.0
Price:$2.99App Size:251.50MB
  • Short, intense levels
  • Gratifying without the need for bonuses or three star rankings
  • Controls are responsive
  • Great visuals
  • Excellent music
  • No mid-level save points past first level set
  • Twitch reactions can be frustrating
  • Need volume controls instead of just mute

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