Mega Run for iPhone and iPad
There’s nothing in Mega Run that won’t be familiar to anyone who’s ever controlled an Italian-American plumber as he ran, jumped, and collected coins and power-ups on his way through the Mushroom Kingdom. Which is not to say that this iPhone and iPad side-scrolling platformer from Get Set Games isn’t fun. It is. It just happens to use a very well-worn formula.
And that formula features Redford, a little red critter you may remember from such previous iOS games as Mega Jump (which, in itself, is a pretty solid execution of the platform jumping genre). Redford’s brother and sister have been captured by monsters, and it’s up to you to lead the little guy through 64 stages spread out across four distinctive worlds. Redford moves in one direction only—forward—and he never stops running. So when he reaches obstacles—yawning chasms, pillars, and a Praetorian guard of monsters—you tap the screen to make him jump over any dangers or bumps in the road. Along the way, you’ll collect coins, gems, and power-ups that can also help you get past your monster enemies.
Again, there’s nothing here that would shock or surprise anyone who played Super Mario Bros. a quarter-century ago. So why does Mega Run succeed with something so striking familiar? The game’s graphics are pretty cute, for starters, and a bouncy soundtrack adds to the fun of the proceedings. Even Redford’s scream as he plummets to his death is adorable—if a little poignant. Mega Run is just a really well-put-together game.
Get Set also built in numerous ways to enjoy the game. Collecting coins along the course helps you build up experience points; as you gain experience, you level up and unlock new characters and power-ups that you purchase with the virtual coins you’ve earned in the game. Mega Jump uses the three-star rating system to grade your performance on each level, so there’s plenty of incentive to go back and improve upon your score. It’s also a challenge to collect all three multicolored gems on each course—especially since the layout varies every time you replay a level—so that’s another way the game encourages replayability.
The controls in Mega Run are pretty simple to grasp: Tap the screen to jump, with longer taps leading to higher jumps. But some players might find the controls a little unforgiving. To destroy monsters, for example, you jump on top of their heads—and Mega Run expects you to land precisely on the top of their heads. Mistime your jump by just a little, and the monsters will send poor Redford sprawling, most likely to his doom.
Another potential source of frustration is the game’s lack of checkpoints. When Redford meets an untimely demise in Mega Run, you restart the level from the beginning—even if you wipe out in sight of the finish line. The game does offer Save Stars that bring Redford back to life at the point where he perished, but Save Stars can only be acquired through Mega Points. You earn those either by watching in-app advertising or by purchasing them from within the app. (Or you can ignore the Save Stars entirely. I do, and it hasn’t hampered my enjoyment of the game.)
That said, Mega Run strikes a nice balance between its in-app purchase system and just letting you play the game. You can download Mega Run for free, play it without ever spending a dime of real money, and still enjoy yourself. Progressing through the game unlocks new levels, and there are plenty of opportunities to grab coins you can use for power-ups and other upgrades. More impatient players can pony up real cash to get those upgrades immediately. This is how game makers should approach the freemium model.
For iPhone and iPad users, though, all that matters is the gameplay, and Mega Run more than delivers on that front. It may not break new ground, but it offers all the thrills and spills a side-scrolling platform game should.
[Macworld.com editor Philip Michaels is old enough to remember Super Mario Bros.]