Friday, 4 September 2009

Run to the (pix)hiiiiills! Run for high sco-or-ores!

Or: An Ode to Running Games

There is a growing sub-genre of game. Is it is a sub-genre of the first-person shooter or of platformers? I guess that depends upon the specific example but in general we can call them runners. A few examples? Most well known would by Mirror's Edge by DICE which was the first - and so far only - mainstream game to be based almost entirely around running (or more accurately motion). In the land of free indie developments there are the much-loved Fancy Pants Adventures by Brad Borne (who EA tapped to produce Mirror's Edge 2D) and AdamAtomic's recently released Canabalt.

Any game involves movement from A to B but in most cases this is just a transition between two moments of action. Where these games excel is the impetus - demanded or implied - to just keep moving. The physicality and the sheer velocity are intoxicating. In the case of Canabalt or Dino Run's forced movement, the action is especially nail biting - if only you had time to lift your fingers from the keyboard to bite them. Or maybe you just bite one hand... whatever.

Can we expect to see more of these games? I certainly hope so - Mirror's Edge in particular brought a whole new set of toys to a genre that has been growing tired and stale. If developers and publishers have any sense, they will be working on implementing free-running into their own products.

The variety allowed by the third dimension, greater level design and extended game experiences means mainstream games could be the place where running, jumping, sliding and all that really makes an impact. With flash games perhaps it is just a limited imagination but I can only see people retreading the same exact mechanics with different coats of paint. Please someone prove me wrong.

Are there any other motion-centric games you thing I should have included? Is there anything you have particular enjoyed?

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