I felt like I should hate I Must Run! In fact I wanted to hate it. To me It clearly copied the game mechanics of 2010’s fantastic Bit.Trip Runner and squashed it into a minigame to be played on mobile devices and PSP game systems. However, when I played the newly released DSiWare version of I Must Run! I slowly got addicted to it just like I did when I played the game it was supposedly inspired from.
I Must Run! was developed and published by Gamelion Studios and it features an ex-marine/ex-prisoner breaking out of prison after receiving a key and a menacing letter.
The story begins with the former marine coming home to his wife after a deployment. Leaving from the movies one day they get harassed and threatened by the mayor’s son (the plot is already more compelling than every two dollar game in the eShop/DSiShop). During a brief scrap the hooligan falls on his own knife and dies. The ex-marine gets thrown in jail for murder but after about three months he breaks out when he discovers that his wife is in danger.
If you want to see a great illustration of the plot, check out the early teaser trailer (slight language/violence warning).
There are only a four moves that you can do in this game: jump, double-jump, punch and slide. You use these moves to avoid all sorts of danger as you do your automatic running thing. What I really like here is that the move-set is mapped twice; with the directional pad taking one set and the A, B, and X butons taking the other. There are no touch controls at all, which is strange for a DSiWare game whose previous incarnations had touch controls, but I’m not complaining. The controls are pretty smooth and I’ve already become comfortable with my own control configuration (I prefer A to punch, D-pad up to jump and D-pad down to slide). It’s important to get really comfortable with a control scheme because…
…this game is completely random.
There is no set level design. Obstacles and pit holes approach randomly as you run through the stage, and every time you play a particular stage the placement of all those hazards are different.The game starts at a pretty steady pace, so it’s not too difficult to survive at first. But as you get better at the game, the game itself speeds up, and you’ll need to be more nimble when approaching obstacles. (In comparison Bit.Trip Runner relied more heavily on memorization for its level design.)
You’ll know you’re doing really well when you start racking up points. Everytime you punch something out of your way you get points. Every close call you make when landing a jump earns you points. In fact, the more likely it seems like you’ll miss a platform, the higher amount of points you earn. And while there is a story and everything, it seems like a major focus for playing this game is to achieve higher and higher scores. In addition to the Story mode there is also a “Run Endless” mode where you try to earn as many points as you can before you make a fatal error (like fall down a gap or something similar). Which reminds me…
…you only get four lives.
In I Must Run!, you have a limited amount of lives to get you through six levels: Jail, Subway, Sewers, Construction Site, Suburbs and Rooftops. Each stage is a bit different, whether through level terrain or obstacles introduced (the Suburbs forces you to jump over pipes, for instance).
If things get to fast you could always slow down the scrolling speed, though not in a way that was intended. Every time you miss a punch and run into an obstacle, you slow down. The major concern with this, though, is that you might not be able to clear certain jumps if you are running too slowly, and you’ll end up losing a life anyway.
This game is tricky, fast and fairly addictive in a simple sort of way. Yeah it’s not exactly the most original game out there and it might have been a little too inspired by Bit.Trip Runner, but if we think about it lots of a great games copied other great games. Crash Team Racing copied Mario Kart. Saints Row copied Grand Theft Auto. Heck, you could argue that Bit.Trip Runner copied Robot Unicorn Attack. And that Robot Unicorn Attack copied Cananbalt. And that Canabalt copied whatever previous running game was there if one existed. And if that game existed, it was probably based on Sonic the Hedgehog running a lot.
I’m basically saying that I Must Run! is a good game. Play it.
Genre(s): Action, Arcade, Platformer
System(s): Nintendo DSi, Nintendo 3DS
ESRB: Teens (13 and up)