App of the Week: Temple Run 2

Developer:

Imangi Studios, LLC

Compatible with:
iPhone 3GS and up (optimized for iPhone 5)

iPod Touch 3rd Gen and up

iPad

*Available for Android on Jan. 24

Requires:
iOS 4.2 or later

Price:

Free

Available here

*Sigh*

Well I tried.

I tried to find a reason to not put “Temple Run 2” as the app of the week. I wanted to find some obscure, must have gem that was released in the same week as one of the biggest app sequels of all time instead, and hope to help it find some time to share in “Temple Run 2′s” considerable spotlight. Try as I might though, it was still “Temple Run 2” that came on top of the heap.

I probably don’t need to elaborate on the concept of “Temple Run” as with 170 million plus downloads, there’s a good chance you’ve played or heard about it. But just for forms sake, “Temple Run 2” has you playing as an adventurer in pursuit of the golden idol. The actual acquiring of it is never an issue, but the escape from the temple is the real challenge, and this is where the player comes in as they try to escape the temple, and it’s fervent defenders, via a series of course changes, jumps, and other simple (but rapid) interactions, all while trying to collect coins to unlock all kinds of goodies. You can’t survive, but the fun is in how long you last, and how much you can collect.

Since it’s a clearly successful formula, “Temple Run 2” doesn’t find much cause for altering it. Instead, this is a “more is better” type sequel, though that doesn’t mean there aren’t noteworthy additions. A particular highlight of “Temple Run 2” is the graphics, which are significantly improved from its predecessor. Everything is so colorful, varied, and detailed that it becomes impossible to look back at the first game without a scoff. It does cause some problems on older systems because of this, but the visual reward is worth the increased hardware recommendations.

Otherwise, it comes back to that more word to tell you what so great about the game. That would include more power ups (that goes along with more characters), more achievements, more collectibles,  more environments, and best of all more obstacles like zip lines and mine carts that help make playing “Temple Run 2” in long sessions a much greater joy thanks to some genuine variety around every bend.

And of course it all works. “Temple Run” only came out in 2011, and while the novelty of it has long worn off, the fun never really did. “Temple Run 2” celebrates that fact by maintaining the simple joy of the gameplay, and sacrificing none of the addictiveness, but it also knows where to nip and tuck, and where to enhance, so that at least for the first few play-throughs, the game feels new again.

I think the reason that I was hesitant to write about “Temple Run 2” here is because it is such a big, bold, headline grabbing release, it seems almost lazy to join the masses of appraisers and admirers in covering it. Yet after spending some time with the game, I’m reminded that it’s not always about what’s new, what’s bold, and what’s unsung, but that rather sometimes it’s as simple as good is good. Well “Temple Run 2” is certainly good, and it’s also my app of the week.

  

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App of the Week: Endless Road

Developer:
Chillingo Ltd.

Compatible with:
iPhone 3GS and up (optimized for iPhone 5)

iPod Touch 3rd gen and up

iPad

Requires:
iOS 4.3 or later

Price:

$0.99

Available here

With well over 20 million downloads, one of the biggest successes of the mobile gaming era has been “Temple Run”. It’s concept couldn’t be more simple as you control a man perpetually running and avoiding obstacles to escape from a temple. It’s a basic idea executed to perfection, and even helped to popularize its own genre of games in the “endless runner”, a genre that hasn’t exactly been prolific in terms of entries that don’t suck.

One very notable exception was recently released though in Chillingo Ltd’s “Endless Road”. Much like it’s forerunner, the idea is elementary, as you are tasked with driving an endless road and avoiding the obstacles in your path, all while gathering coins to purchase upgrades with that range from new vehicles to paint that trails your wake. Along the way are also various jumps and inlaid arrows that speed you up, and can slow you down.

It would be a very unremarkable and forgettable game if it weren’t for a couple of wrinkles in the formula that enhance the experience. The first is the actual road which is constantly folding in on itself as the section behind you falls in your wake, while the road ahead springs up as you progress. It lends a great visual cue that gives you a constant, and necessary, feeling of tension. This tension is only increased by the game’s expertly used soundtrack, that’s constant driving beats provide the perfect sense of urgency.

But what really sells the title is the amazing graphics. While not pushing any technical limitations, the fact that every stage presents a new theme, color pallet, and always tougher series of unique obstacles, means that you never really encounter a moment that takes you out of the game and makes you realize the basic monotony of what you are doing. Instead, it adds to the already impossible addictive nature of this type of game as you can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Is this another case of style over substance then? Oh most definitely. But that doesn’t mean the core gameplay concept of attempting to maintain a constant speed of 80 MPH or greater in order to not fall into oblivion isn’t absurdly fun on its own, but rather that even that just serves as a showcase to the abundance of creativity the development team has put into every visual. There’s not a millimeter of screen space that isn’t used to full effect, and little touches like a left and right path at the end of each level leading to different environments exemplify how much Chillingo was able to milk the concept for all of the addictiveness and replayability it is worth.

Much like tower defense titles and “Bejeweled” knock off puzzle games, endless runners should have worn their welcome out by now. However, it’s thanks to games like “Endless Road” that keep people coming back to the genres by providing perfect execution of the original ideas, and very fresh coats of paint.  With everything in this game’s arsenal it perfectly exemplifies the idea of the great Texas country singer Robert Earl Keen who said “the road goes on forever, and the party never ends.”

And if you know me at all, you know any game that lets me quote Robert Earl Keen is going to earn the app of the week.

  

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