As a fan of classic style arcade games, I appreciate any modern developer’s attempt to design a retro-style game to appeal to the masses. Upsi Runner by Shen Mansell demonstrates an interpretation of a classic arcade-style game featuring a snail that alternately side scrolls across levels amidst vertically moving enemies. The closest comparison I can think of off hand is the original Donkey Kong, but it’s a pretty loose comparison.
In Upsi Runner, you have two means of controls — tilt or touch. Often times in an app with multiple controls, one is favorable above the other, but frankly, either one works for Upsi Runner. Tilting or touching, you simply move the snail across each row of a level attempting to execute proper timing so as to avoid the vertically scrolling enemy butterflies, bombs, and devils. Upon reaching the top row with at least one of three lives left in tact, a new level will appear.
As with most arcade games, the main objective and replay value stems from trying to beat the highest recorded score. Upsi Runner records and displays the high score in the upper right hand corner to compare with the current score in the left. There is an interactive tutorial included on the main menu, which clearly explains the controls and scoring methods. Three levels of difficulty are available, with the same achievements and bonus scoring opportunities in each one.
A very simplistic game with what I would call moderate appeal, Upsi Runner was clearly designed as a game to “pick up and play,” which you can. I’d have to say bonus points are given for the auto-pause feature that allows you to quickly exit mid-game and return to the same place later on. However, the eye-straining text in tutorial, credits, and main screen menu is a minus — though a text fix is in the works per the developer.
Right out of the gate, Upsi Runner is a bit of a paradox since snails don’t “run” and there were definitely times when I wished the little snail would haul butt across the screen, but alas, he only goes so fast. The absence of sound effects during game play is a bit baffling as well, even though you can play your own music in the background. There are some elements of the game that are semi-appealing, such as the nicely animated title screen and the interactive tutorial, however, I just wasn’t taken with the overall game. The elements are kind of minimal; a character swap or some sort of upgrade for progress, such as speed boosts or temporary invincibility, would have added some of the depth it lacks. Simply put, Upsi Runner achieves its desired old-school feel, but the addictive action is missing.
Check out Upsi Runner in action on YouTube.