If ever a game title fitted the phrase ‘it does what it says on the tin’, RunGunJumpGun is it. It’s developer, ThirtyThree has presented us with one of those hair-pulling, monitor-bashing, heart-breaking 2D platformers that will turn you into a puppy kicking madman with a burning ambition to pluck your eyes out with a spoon. So yeah, it’s pretty good.
Reviewed on: (PC Review code provided)
There’s a runner-type mobile-esque feel to proceedings akin to games like Jetpack Joyride or Temple Run. RunGunJumpGun adopts that simple but ultimately addictive premise that eats away at you and works hard to leave you with a ‘one-more-go’ mentality, just as the sane part of your psyche is thinking it might be time to put it down.
It does help that there’s only two things you need to worry about when it comes to controls: jumping and shooting your cannon. Mainly because there’ll quickly be a thousand other things to worry about in the form of streaming enemy gun fire, rocks, scenery and giant spinning saws all coming at you at once. I won’t lie, it gets pretty busy on the screen at times – this game simply does not want you to win and lets you know about it pretty early on.
The screen carries you along at a pretty fast pace, too, and shooting isn’t a simple case of aim and blast, you’ll need to synchronise it with your jumping that forces your gun to shoot downwards to create the lift. This leaves you with a conundrum; jump and risk miss-timing a forward shot that could inevitably land you into an enemy, or hold your nerve to get your shot off and try to make the jump after. This is where RunGunJumpGun, wins. That never-ending battle to make those snap decisions that could affect the rest of your run entirely.
I have to say I enjoyed the production, too. The soundtrack is decent and fits the colourful visuals well. Both are complimented by some whacky humour spun into the retro-feel cut scenes that will entertain some and perhaps baffle others but in the end are mere fodder to pad out the gameplay. Regardless of whether you take it all in or not, you’ll get the notion that your priority in missions (apart from actually surviving) is to collect ‘atomikas’ – small orbs that are a valuable resource that needs hoarding somehow as you bomb through the 120 odd levels. Several odd characters appearing in between each section will repeatedly remind you of the orbs’ importance, which incidentally also serve to unlock the new worlds.
Whilst the level design almost traps itself into being a very certain way to suit the needs of the shooting/jumping mechanic, I’d like to have seen a bit more variation. Whilst the aesthetic is pleasing there just isn’t enough disparity to keep things fresh throughout. Levels are blistering quick in length, provided you make it through them, but it feels like more could have been done to liven up the 8-bit journey that ends up feeling repetitive from one level to the next.
Overall, RunGunJumpGun plays the role of the franticly enjoyable 2D scroller well. Narrative is non-existing ultimately, but weirdly cool in that Hotline Miami kind of way, where blithering randomness manages to feel like expertly deployed story-telling. The parts where the game excels is in the way it forces you to multi-task forward thinking and twitch reaction and if you make it through a passage there’s a huge feeling of reward for your pain-staking perseverance. It won’t be everyone’s bag, but you won’t want to let its simplicity beat you – human nature dictates that.