Well we’re back after an extended break. I asked Brian to ensure that he shut down the lab for the bank holiday weekend, but I never thought that he’d include the cryogenic freezers in that process… he’s spent the past week trying to mop up the mess and explain to Walt Disney’s head what twerking is.
This week’s ‘Cost of a Coffee’ game is Record Run, a rhythm action game brought to you by Harmonix, the developer of the original Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Dance Central that is available now on iOS, and soon on Android. Now to us, that’s kind of a big deal.
The game starts with a poor punk rocker picking records, before a careless driver sends the collection flying down the street. Our punk protagonist gives chase to pick-up the littered long-players, down a street with more construction signs, badly parked cars and people moving sofas than anybody would think is possible. After the tutorial you can unlock song slots with backstage passes, which are earned for completing missions and scoring 4 or 5 stars on a track, allowing you to traverse to your own tunes. The records you collect along the way can be used to buy bonus power-ups or skip certain aspects of missions, if they are proving too difficult, letting you get that little bit closer to adding more of your own music. Records and backstage passes can also be used to unlock new outfits and characters, throwing a little variety into the mix.
The rhythm action itself is solid and your punk friend bounds to the beat of the track nicely; some reviewers have complained about the movement not syncing with the beat on your own tracks, but I’ve not found this to be a problem as I got into the groove with tracks from Maximo Park, The Strokes and the Thin White Duke Remix of a Gwen Stefani track. The gestures you use to sidestep, slide and jump are accurate and responsive, meaning that you can pull off quick successions of movement and avoid the frustrations of fumbling fingers.
Is it worth the ‘Cost of a Coffee’? Well it’s a free game, so it’s certainly worth the cost of a glass of tap water. This is a nice assault on the fortress of Temple Run clones, given an interesting twist by Harmonix with the addition of your own music and attempting to encourage you to place yourself in the path of objects, so that you can retreat to the beat. The gameplay gets repetitive pretty fast and it’s really only the appeal of playing to your own music that holds your interest; a few other backdrops to dash through would have been nice.
The bonuses, outfits and other characters do add a little bit of interest, but most of these are quite pricey in terms of records and/or backstage passes, which is where the microtransactions come in. Unlike other free to play titles, the payments options are very unobtrusive; so much so, that after several hours of play, I had to go looking for them to find out what was on offer. The only obtrusive thing is the addition of adverts on the summary after completing a level (not a subtle banner ad, an unskippable video dropped in for good measure), however a pop-up when you launch the game informs you that these will be disabled, should you purchase any record, backstage pass or bundle pack for the game. Record Run is a great way to listen to your music during that commute and give your fingers something to do, but they do say that variety is the spice of life and this is just a little bit vanilla.