SpeedRunner HD [Review]
Speed, timing, accuracy, flow; these are the skills that our hero will need to possess if he wants to stop the mad bomber from, well, bombing things. The concept of Speedrunner HD is simple: get to the end of the level as fast as possible and stop the bomb from going off. There is a story thrown in there somewhere that involves the aforementioned mad bomber; however, it might as well have been about a fast guy with an obsession for objects with blinking lights. With the exception of the boss encounters, the narrative doesn’t really come into play besides giving you a reason to get across each level. Sometimes I forgot there was a story at all until one of the comic styled – and well-drawn – story boards appeared. This is not a bad thing though. Games like SpeedRunner don’t need deep plots, and if the developer had tried to implement one it probably would have felt forced.
Speedrunner HD is all about speed and momentum. That’s pretty obvious; but it’s the other four items I mentioned in the first sentence that really matter in regards to reaching, and keeping, top speed. You start the game with the ability to run, jump, and slide. Running goes from a slow jog to Olympic gold medalist high speeds. As you run there will be obstacles on the ground (boxes, fire hydrants, spikes, and some ambiguous objects) that must be jumped over. OK, simple enough – or is it?
The thing that’s going to get you the most about the ground obstacles is their spacing. When jumping you have the option to either perform a long jump (hold the jump button) or a short jump (tap the jump button). This is where accuracy comes into play. While running, not only will you need to make quick decisions on how to jump, but on top of that, you need to make sure that you are very accurate in terms of landing. If your toe even thinks about tapping one of the ground obstacles, you can expect your forward momentum to come to a screeching halt. This is not the case with spikes though; you will just die if you touch them.
The arch at which you jump is also important, as the timing must be absolutely precise in order to maintain top speed. Timing becomes even more essential once the ability to double jump is obtained. No matter how long you wait after your first jump, you can still perform a second one. Anyone who has played a game like this before knows this means that the second jump must sometimes be saved for a very specific time in order to reach new platforms.
After the first level, you will obtain a grappling hook that grants the ability to swing from any ceiling that has a white lining. While grappling is fun and all, the hook frustratingly causes as many momentum breaks as ground obstacles do. The grapple doesn’t let you go unless you hit the ceiling. This means it’s very possible to let go of the grapple at the wrong angle, leading to the player character coming down at the wrong angle and losing speed. Part of the challenge is getting a good feel for the grappling hook so you can recognize exactly when you need to let go.
Not too far into the game you will also gain the ability to wall climb. You can’t climb straight up so jumps must be timed from wall to wall, but only if the wall has special white markers. The flow portion of the game comes when all of these elements are combined. Switching from a grapple to a slide and then a run becomes difficult when there are obstacles directly after a slide is completed. Items are strategically placed specifically to break your flow. Mastering these impediments means mastering the game itself.
When a level is completed in Speedrunner you will get either a silver (for losers) or gold (for winners) medal. Silver is handed out just for completing the level without time running out. Golds require you to do well enough in the level so that there is time to enjoy a nice refreshing soda before defusing the bomb. Even though most of the time I didn’t get golds on my first try, I was able to get all of the golds in the story mode in one sitting (about two hours). And there is of course a prize for getting all of the golds. I’m not going to tell you what it is (because you haven’t gotten all of the golds so you don’t deserve it ;P), but it’s something that can be used outside of the game or even an Xbox.
Because it wasn’t very difficult to get all gold medals, it would be nice if there was at least one higher medal. A platinum medal that required running through the level perfectly in order to get it, for example. After you complete the story, bonus levels will open up. These levels are definitely more challenging, but once again I obtained all of the golds in about an hour or so.
Besides getting medals, there are also winged sandals across each level to obtain. They aren’t required, but you do get a bonus level opened if you are able to get all of them. The thing about the winged sandals is that the player is sometimes forced to divert from the fastest route in order to obtain them. Also, you will not be able to obtain some without certain items such as the grappling hook or double jump. If you do grab a sandal you have to complete the level in the allotted time or else it won’t count.
Speedrunner HD comes complete with offline multiplayer. While you would think the object of multiplayer is to reach the end of the level first, it isn’t. In multiplayer, you and your opponents – also known as your “friends” – have a set amount of lives. Your job is to deplete those lives by leaving your buddy in the dust and making them fall of the screen. There are a few items that will help out with that objective such as a temporary boost and weapons like boxes and a grappling hook. I was able to play a few rounds with a buddy and have to admit we did have a good time. I mean, I beat the pants off of him, and then he called my sister a whore; but after a few beers we were friends again.
Overall, I think Speedrunner HD is a solid game. Would have enjoyed it more if the gold was harder to get, but that’s really my only complaint. I didn’t run into any bugs and once I got the feel for the Speedrunner the game play was very smooth… until I hit a box. Speedrunner HD is currently 240MS ($3) and it is most definitely worth that paltry sum. There is some solid replay value here with the multiplayer, the sandals, and for those who aren’t as boss as I am, the medals.