They tell you that you’re not supposed to fire a gun while sprinting at top speed. If they haven’t told you that, then your life isn’t as exciting as mine. It’s also typically frowned upon to use a firing gun to propel yourself off the ground. And contrary to popular belief, it is very illegal to try. Take my word for it. For my review of RunGunJumpGun, I really wanted to get some footage of me doing both of those things. However, no matter how sneakily I tried, I was hit with a dead end at every turn.
First, after the ambulance left, my editor enacted policy of “firearms are still not allowed in the building.” After another attempt came, “David is still not allowed in the building.” Things only got worst from then on. I’m not supposed to say much about it, but my court date is set for November 2. I feel pretty confident about it, though. My lawyer told me that it’s not looking good, which must mean it’s looking great. My life is the best.
But anyway, I have a job to do here. RunGunJumpGun is all about running, gunning, jumping, and gunning (in that order). It’s one of those rage-games. You know the ones, like Super Meat Boy. They all fit the bill. One hit kills. Hundreds of hazards. Fast action. Short levels. Narrow gaps. Spikes. There’s a pretty set formula. RunGunJumpGun takes the rage genre to the running games: where you’re automatically running right. Whereas Super Meat Boy was designed to kill you for not moving, RunGunJumpGun takes the choice itself away.
I want to go ahead and point out that rage can’t exactly be put into words. It has too much white-hot fury for that. So, below, I have the first hour of my experiences with the game. Fair warning, rage inspires very colorful language.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the language. As said before, RunGunJumpGun is all about rage. If you haven’t died 100 times on a single level, then you haven’t played long enough. I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of these games. Don’t get me wrong, I love tackling some hard difficulty every now and then. But rage-games aren’t about difficulty. 100 deaths into a level often leaves you with no more insight or strategy into the challenge than when you first saw it. The issue isn’t that you die so much but that you learn nothing from those deaths. That’s what makes these kinds of games different from the difficulty in the Dark Souls series. When you get your ass handed to you in Dark Souls, at least you have a vague idea of what went wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this game is bad right out of the gate. In fact, I’m not saying it’s bad at all. I just want to make sure you understand where these comments are coming from. I’m well aware that the ten time reigning champ of Super Meat Boy isn’t going to agree with a lot of my concessions. I want to make sure you understand that too. So before I break the game down to discuss, allow me to say one last thing. This game, and games like it, make me extraordinarily angry, and I am not a fan of being angry.
Your Many Deaths Are Very Fast
Nothing breaks flow like a loading screen. Any time away from the action just shatters immersion. That’s why you can’t have load times in rage-games. Luckily, RunGunJumpGun follows that idea. Dying in the game immediately resets all the hazards and pulls you back to the start in a technicolor rainbow. The entire process takes a fraction of a second. Afterward, it doesn’t even ask you to press anything to get rolling again. It’s instant. You run. You die. You zip back. You run. The whole system works really well.
Part of what makes this work is that you get into the speed of the game. No matter what happens, you run at the exact same pace. Leaving very little time between deaths helps to keep you in the groove. And if you need to take a break between deaths, then I guess you have to let the little guy run to his death a few times until you’re ready. I’m sure he won’t mind.
There’s Some Kind of Story
RunGunJumpGun is a game of simple pleasures. However, it does have a story going on behind the scenes. From what I could tell, the sun of the star system is about to explode. You are running through each stage to grab the little collectibles called “atomiks.” I’m not entirely sure why, though. There may have been a bit of the story I missed out on. You see, the only story in the game occurs between the levels. When you dive into a level for the first time, you see a few lines of dialog from some alien. Usually, it’s something like, “THE SUN IS EXPLODING” or “THAT GUY IS STEALING OUR ATOMIKS.” It does get more in depth than that at times.
There are many different characters who end up delivering story lines through the game. Each one appears to have its own personality that comes through over the course of the story. By the end, there are even some lines from a warlord or two trying to convince everyone that the sun is fine. Each character is designed in glorious neon vectors that do a good job at reflecting the game’s style. Speaking of the design:
The Game is a Neon Nightmare Wonderland
Neon is the only acceptable word to describe RunGunJumpGun. It’s everywhere. The good news is that it isn’t so bright and bold that it hurts your eyes. It also matches the feel and gameplay. Despite the coloring, it is usually easy to pick out all of the hazards on screen. This is even true when there are dozens on the screen at a time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen neon brown before this game. But, again, it really does pull it off.
Anyone turned off to that retro 80’s style should stay away. It’s presence dominates the video and audio. The graphics are basic and include traditional sprites. The visuals are just as simple as the gameplay. There are two buttons. One fires the gun ahead while the other fires it below. Shooting ahead is for taking out upcoming hazards. Shooting below is to launch yourself into the air. Here comes my first real gripe with the game. When you first start firing down at your feet, it takes way too long to get moving. That was probably the number 1 cause of my deaths. You start rising so painfully slow. That alone would be annoying, but it gets worse. Your acceleration is too fast. You go from barely lifting off the ground to mach 3 in a second. When the action really gets rolling, it’s impossible to time your shots just right where you won’t eat the floor or the ceiling. Otherwise, you smash into a hazard and it’s back to start. Hey, about those hazards.
Oh the Hazards!
There are so many hazards in this game. If variety is the spice of life, then consider RunGunJumpGun well-salted. Right when you get used to one hazard, you’re introduced to another. At first, it’s just spikes and roadblocks. Then the turrets come in. Then there are flying robots, laser barriers, laser beam launchers, bullets, teleportation boundaries, and even the walls themselves. If that’s not enough, late in the game, you encounter water sections. Here, instead of shooting down to go up, you do the opposite. This adds a unique challenge on top of everything else, because you have to remind yourself which direction you’re going to be heading next.
The most annoying at those laser beam launcher things. The beam slowly tracks your movement and follows you. It’s often really difficult to avoid the beam and even harder to destroy the launcher itself. By the time you level a few shots at the thing, you’ve given the beam plenty of time to meet up with you. Nothing put me in a dead-end struggle like those things. Aside from that, one of the most annoying hazards was the simplest. Any narrow path covered in spikes was a nightmare to traverse. The main reason for that is how quickly you rise up when shooting below. No matter how well you try to plan it out, you either rise too slowly and hit the floor spikes or fly up and become one with the ceiling. And, just like any rage-game, it happens over and over again.
Again, RunGunJumpGun isn’t a bad game. It has entertaining moments and a fair collection of challenges. If the genre interests you, I bet you’ll find a lot to like about it. Each level can be beaten without grabbing any of the collectible atomiks. However, choosing to do so gives more challenge. I’ve sat down with it a few times now, and I still haven’t seen everything the game has to offer. From that, I can confidently say it’s worth the price tag.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: Gambitious Digital Entertainment ; Developer: ThirtyThree; Players: 1; Released: August 31, 2016 ; ESRB: E ; MSRP: $7.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of RunGunJumpGun given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.