Run Roo Run: Hop to it!
Run Roo Run is a very straightforward game that manages to plumb a great deal of ideas from its simple concept. You play as Roo, a mother kangaroo who needs to rescue her baby Joey after it has been kidnapped. She has to travel from Perth to Sydney, making her way through the Australian Outback. It’s less populated than you might expect, with only the occasional bird passing by. That doesn’t meant it’s empty, however. Each stage is built on a single screen and features a number of obstacles, gimmicks, and platforms. Much of the scenery is fatal to Roo if she so much as grazes it, but she’ll quickly respawn back at the starting point ready to go again.
The controls are as simple as could be. One tap gets Roo running, and once she’s going another tap will make her jump. There are a wide variety of objects Roo can interact with, but they too are activated with a simple tap on the screen. Roo’s jump is uniform, and once she’s off the ground you can’t change her trajectory. The goal is to get Roo to the goal line without hitting any obstacles. A timer counts how long it takes you to do that, and it keeps on ticking if you take a hit and respawn. It only pauses when Roo is waiting at the starting line. You’ll be assigned a star ranking based on how long it takes you to clear the stage, and there’s naturally something good in it for you if you get gold stars on every stage.
There are 20 chapters in the game, and each chapter consists of 15 regular stages and 6 Extreme stages. For the most part, the regular stages are a breeze, while the Extreme stages are ridiculously hard. Each chapter includes a new gimmick or hazard of some kind, and previously introduced elements are woven into later stages to create some surprisngly complex designs. This can be anything as pedestrian as timed spikes, or as wild as gravity flips and portal-like tunnels. Once you get them down, stages only take a few seconds to finish, but it often takes some practice to get to that point. The constant cycle of new ideas keeps the game quite fresh the whole way through, and the way elements are brought together as the game goes on is quite clever.
The Extreme stages fully realize the potential of the game, pulling out all the stops and bringing together hazards and tricks in cruelly tough combinations. You’ll have to have pitch-perfect reflexes to get the gold stars on these levels. If you just want to see the main happy ending where Joey gets reunited with his mother, you do need to finish all of these Extreme levels, something that in the original version of the game could be very hard for many players. Fortunately, the GameClub version of the game has something to relieve the burden for frustrated players.
Originally, Run Roo Run offered some IAPs that players who were truly stuck could rely on. One item slowed down time for a while, allowing players a little more time to react. Another simply called a bus to take Roo to the goal line, counting the stage as cleared but not counting towards the player’s collected stars. In the GameClub version of the game, these items can be used without any extra charge. Yes, that means you can cheese your way through to the ending without playing anything if you really want to. But that’s a small concession for allowing anyone the chance to see a happy ending. You still have to get all of the gold stars on your own to see the special ending, however.
While the difficulty is somewhat uneven in Run Roo Run, it’s packed full of cool ideas and its simple controls make it a game anyone can learn to play. The more difficult levels will keep skilled players satisfied, while those who simply want to see the ending can make use of the items that curb the challenge. The bright colors and cute characters make it an appealing game to look at, and the upbeat music keeps your spirits high as you make your way across the Outback. It’s a fun game to fire up for a quick stage or two here and there, or to settle in with for a while to see if you can knock out some new time records.