Written by: Patrick Orquia
Title: Runbow Pocket
Publisher: 13AM Games
Developer: 13AM Games
Release Date: June 20, 2017
No. of Players: Up to 4 players
Price: $14.99 (digital), $29.99 (Deluxe Edition on retail)
Platform: New Nintendo 3DS
Runbow Pocket is a port of the game Runbow originally released on Wii U and other platforms in 2015. It is pretty much the same as the original, following the basic mechanic: the background color changes constantly, and if it matches the color of the platform or obstacle on screen rendering it invisible, it doesn’t exist. This mechanic opens up new unique challenges to the typical platformer genre. I have not encountered it on any other game before it or since. In order to go through a level and traverse the many platforms and obstacles, the player must jump, double jump, triple jump (via a jumping upward punch/upper cut move), and lateral jump (via sideways punch). A combination of these moves is easier said than done, and failure to do so oftentimes result to an inevitable death. Yes, you will die lots of times in this game. There is an unlimited number of tries, though, so there is really nothing to worry about. You just have to “git gud”. A sarcastic remark on the loading screen greets the player after each death, most of which are hilarious, like “when you’re ready” or “I’ll get the coffee on” or “that’s the end of the endorsement deal”. If you don’t want to see these, you have to really master your jumps, timing, and eye-and-hand coordination.
This port of the game can be purchased from the eShop as a standalone game, and the DLCs that can be purchased as a bundle ($12.99) or individually. The retail version is called Runbow Pocket Deluxe, and comes with all the DLCs already included in the cartridge. The DLCs include: Satura’s Space Adventures (36 new adventure levels and 13 new multiplayer levels starring Satura, the game’s main antagonist), 4 costume + music packs, new playable characters Lilac (from Freedom Planet) and Shantae (from the Shantae game series).
The game has different modes for solo play. The first is Adventure, which is divided into 145 single player challenge levels divided into 4 level motifs (Forgotten Forrest, Lost Luau of Doom, Big House Break-out, and Monster Manor) in which the player aims to reach the end of it or fulfilling a certain requirement, such as defeating a specified number of enemies. These levels are designated with colors, based on difficulty: green (easy), yellow (average), and red (hard). At the end of the level, the player is rewarded with 1 to 3 medals, depending on the amount of time it takes them to complete the level. The number of medals the player collects then in turn unlocks new characters that can be used to play the game, such as Juan and Tostada from Guacamelee, Shovel Knight from its eponymous game, and Gunvolt from Azure Striker Gunvolt, among others. Additional music and costume packs can also be unlocked. Aside from unlocakables, different achievements are given to the player upon completion of different conditions in the game, like number of enemies defeated, performing moves successfully, et cetera.
The second mode is Bowhemoth, a single long level that the player must play from the start at each playthrough. If the player dies, they go back to the last checkpoint. This mode is more suited for hardcore players who can really put up to the hard challenge. This level is divided in several segments, and each of these segments feature different sets of obstacles and platforms that made hard to traverse because of the background color-changing mechanics, which varies in speed and complexity. You will spend lots of hours in order to finish this mode, and lots and lots of deaths. So again, “git gud”.
If you want some new challenge, you can play the game with other players either online or through local wireless connection. All the multiplayer modes from the Wii U version is present on this version, except for the Color Master mode, which utilizes the Wii U gamepad for asynchronous gameplay. Also, the maximum number of players on this version has been reduced to 4 from as high as 9 from the Wii U version, due to hardware limitation and the size of the screen.
This game, like the original, is such a fun to play, and probably now even more fun because it can now be played on the go. This game is good for playing in short bursts, because your hands and fingers can only take so much beating from all the different button combinations that you have to press to do the many, many jumps that you have to perform. If you don’t mind the smaller screen resolution and a bit slower load times, this is the better version of the game. Take it with you and play while you commute or before going to bed, and have lots of colorful, challenging fun
REPLAY VALUE: high
- Simplistic, retro-inspired visuals
- Awesome soundtrack, which ranges from jazz to electronic music
- Unique color-changing mechanic
- Very good amount of challenging levels to play
- Lots of unlockables, such as new playable characters, costume packs, and additional music
- Playing as characters from other indie games and hearing their voices and seeing their character design on the game is cool, though they really don’t offer any new or unique power ups of skills
- DLCs provides more value to the game
- This version of the game is arguably better than the original, since it can be played on the go, albeit on a smaller screen
- Not in stereoscopic 3D, which is a disappointing missed opportunity, in my opinion
- The graphics look blocky, especially at the edges, and character details are a bit lost in this version; the use anti-aliasing filters and stereoscopic 3D (which pretty much doubles the number of pixel count) could have reduced this
- Connecting to online multiplayer modes is hard
RATING: 4/5 colorful triple jump combos