Review: Freedom Run for iPhone
America’s presidential election is over, and we can all be grateful for that. But in politics, the race never really ends.
I think that’s the metaphor at work in Freedom Run by Spiralstorm Games. The game’s imagery is ripe with symbolism: Republicans and Democrats are bound to each other, struggling to achieve a common good just out of reach. One cannot succeed without the other. And the run, just like the ever-expanding quest for freedom, is endless. There is no finish line. And if you fall down, you get up and try again.
Either that, or it’s just a silly game about an elephant riding on a donkey’s back.
In any event, Freedom Run is a cleverly engrossing tilt game for the iPhone and iPod touch. The goofy political premise is that a Democratic donkey and Republican elephant are racing for… er, well… I’m not exactly sure. Freedom? Glory? Hope and change? Balloons? I don’t know. The object is to get as far as you can without falling.
Freedom Run’s controls are simple: Tilt to maintain balance, tap to jump over obstacles and to break life-extending balloons (red and blue, naturally). But the game is challenging. As far as I can tell, there is no “sweet spot” where you can maintain perfect balance for any extended period. That heavy elephant will drift forward or backward. Your only respite is the “superbooster”—a lightning bolt balloon that restores your health and sends you sprinting for 10 meters or so.
The challenge is to keep moving and balancing without running out of health or slipping on banana peels. Tilt too far in one direction and you have a moment to right yourself. Overcorrect and down you go. Let your health go too low and the screen will start flashing red, the device will shake and, chances are, you will lose control and fall. The heart-filled balloons that replenish your energy are much harder to get the farther you run.
Freedom Run’s sounds and graphics are cute, from the goofy “Hail to the Chief” soundtrack to the sign-waving crowds lining up along the streets of Washington D.C. The people will cheer you as you leap over banana peels, and jeer you when you fall. That’s democracy for you. (Keeping with the spirit of freedom, you have a choice of turning the sounds on and off.)
Freedom Run adds another element of competition by encouraging players to submit their scores. The leader board lists daily, monthly and all-time high-scores from around the world. As of Dec. 10, the top score was 799.43 meters. Although so far I’ve failed to break 400, “Lui” is hereby on notice that I’m gunning for his record.
The app has one bug that I’m aware of. Players submitting a score who haven’t upgraded their device to the version 2.2 operating software sometimes get an error saying their score is invalid. (My 12-year-old nephew rather rudely received the message, which also accused him of cheating. He had no problem after he upgraded his iPhone’s system software. And, no, I don’t fully understand why a 12-year-old has an iPhone, either.)
Bottom line: Freedom Run is goofy, good-natured fun for kids and adults of all political stripes. But watch out for those pesky banana peels!
The application is compatible with any iPhone or iPod touch running the iPhone 2.1 software update.
[Ben Boychuk is a freelance writer and columnist in Rialto, Calif.]