Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: 10 Second Run

Some people play casual, easy-flowing games to pass the time and unwind. Others enjoy a more meaty experience and regard games as a serious form of entertainment and/or art. Then there is the more niche group of individuals who crave challenge, those who play games like I Wanna Be The Guy and Super Meat Boy, where the death count climbs more quickly than the views on those adorable kitten videos taking up absurd amounts of Google's server space. To these iron-willed (masochistic?) gamers, I recommend 10-Second Run.

I was hesitant to throw two dollars down for this game due to it's minimalistic approach to graphics and simple gameplay. Players control a red stick figure and can do nothing more than move and jump. Gravity is turned up to eleven, so precision is necessary as there isn't much room to adjust for badly timed jumps. The game is simple and resembles many an online flash game, but that alone isn't enough reason not to give it a chance. After all, N started as an online flash game and later made it's way to the DS as N+, so I decided to take a minor gamble.

The game features 50 levels, many of which take nowhere near the full ten seconds to complete. The beginning ones are extremely easy, but that's just to get you used to the mechanics of the game. Of these 50 stages, I only found the latter half to be significantly challenging, taking me anywhere from 1 to 48 attempts. The earlier stages gradually ramp up and introduce obstacles one at a time as to not overwhelm the player. These include blue fire, moving platforms, disappearing platforms, and moving spiky ball-things. 

The levels are challenging because they're cleverly designed, and don't rely on lazy trial-and-error traps. The stage select screen grants a view of the entire level, so you can get a good idea of what needs to be done to get to the end, but death is expected. All stages are open from the get-go; there's no need to beat the current stage to advance. Level difficulty doesn't necessarily consistently increase. It might just be me, but I had two deaths on course 41, and 32 deaths on course 37.

This game will get you angry. You'll resist the urge to crush your 3DS while dying over, and over, and over again. But there is payoff! Complete each stage and ten new stages with a one-second timer will be unlocked. I actually had an easier time with these than most of the ten-second levels. Each of these 60 levels can be replayed for a better time, but the real test lies in the game's Marathon Mode. This mode has you race through all 50 levels back-to-back, and records your final time. Aside from these 60 levels and marathon mode, included is a 10-second timer. Press the button and a counter starts incrementing as a tick plays for each second passed. The numbers fade to white, the ticking stops, and you try to stop the timer on the 10-second mark. It's about as much fun as trying to stop your microwave oven on 00:00. Finally, there's training mode, which lets you practice each individual course for the marathon.

I got about two hours out of this game. It was satisfying to complete each level, and there is definitely some replay value in trying to improve one's times. Another good motivator for continued play would have been an online leaderboard for marathon times, but I guess that might be too much to expect from a budget indie title. For anyone looking for a cheap, challenging game, 10 Second Run fits the bill. 

Released: 2010-09-20
Publisher: Gamebridge
Developer: G-mode 


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