Party games become a lot more fun with a sense of urgency. Hectic battles or races that have each of you screaming at the TV but with a huge smile on your face. 13AM and Headup Games latest title, Runbow, requires a lot of platforming finesse and quick thinking and makes these bouts that little bit more frantic. Finding a balance between precision and speed is what makes this game difficult to master, but a whole load of fun to try.
Runbow is a racing game, but it’s also a platforming game and an extremely exciting party game at that. In every mode the background sweeps a different colour, making every platform of that colour disappear which can lead to a catastrophic fall to your death or require you to think fast on your next move. Fortunately, you see a second of the next colour to come so that you’re not totally blindsided, but you still require quick thinking and reactions to stay in the game. The main mode is the racing mode which you can play up to 8 players locally or 9 online. Players can not only run and jump but can also punch other players, as if all other elements weren’t hectic enough! Playing this in single player mode allows you to practice without other players threatening to overtake, punch you or leave you behind.
The battle mode is akin to Super Smash Bros, where you try to knock your opponents off platforms, force them to make a mistake or use powerups to better your foes. Each bout may last sheer seconds but it’s the sheer abundance of different levels that keep it fresh. From levels that teleport you through different rooms, so you are forced to chase your opponents through vortexes, to teetering on a giant seesaw to see who can lose their balance first, there is enough in there to keep you laughing and shouting at your mates for hours. The final multiplayer mode is the King of the Hill bout that sees you trying to keep control of a certain point for a certain amount of time. Again, playing this with friends can be the most fun you’ve ever had, or it may ruin your friendship forever.
The multiplayer mode is the real gem of this game but there are also a few single player modes that are worthy of a go. An adventure mode sees you working through levels on a grid to get to a boss. Completing one square unlocks surrounding squares so that you can take different routes through the grid if you manage to come across a level that is just a little bit too difficult. It’s good fun for a while but may become a little tedious if you constantly hit brick walls.
Players up for a real challenge can take on the behemoth. A gauntlet that doesn’t allow you to save your progress. This mode is for seasoned players who require just a little bit more of a challenge (and going by a Youtube video search there are some pretty masterful players out there). It’s all about getting in a rhythm and learning from your previous mistakes. Enough perseverance and it can be an extremely rewarding trek.
New characters are unlocked through completing challenges. The usual tasks of winning a certain amount of games to falling to your death a defined number of times. There are some familiar faces in there too, like Shovel Knight and Rusty from Steamworld Dig. It’s another dimension to the game that encourages you to come back time and time again to tick off all those boxes.
Runbow is tricky to master, but a whole load of fun to play together. Its multiplayer mode is the crown jewel and the main reason it is such a joy to play, although single player mode allows you to master your skills. It’s a game about urgency, but also about patience and some sabotage. It is bright, colourful and quirky and has a great sense of humour. Next time you have a party play Runbow. Just try and keep your cool!
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*