Temple Run: Brave for iPhone and iPad
The challenge in making a mobile game that’s tied into a movie release is producing something that has staying power long after the film has departed your local cineplex for a Netflix queue near you. And Disney Mobile has a pretty good track record in that regard: From Pixar creations to superheroes to Muppets, Disney’s mobile arm has done a pretty solid job at producing movie-themed apps that still enjoy some staying power long after the closing credits have faded to black.
The app maker’s latest release, Temple Run: Brave, keeps up that traditional of decent movie-inspired iOS apps—but just barely. It’s not that the app, released in conjunction with Pixar’s Brave, is a bad game; I certainly found it enjoyable enough. It’s just that this Brave-themed endless action game is a largely uninspired version of Temple Run that does little to distinguish itself from the original.
Much of this—the Temple Run connection, if not the uninspired part—is by design. For its Brave game, Disney worked with Temple Run developer Imangi Studios to give the original a Pixar-inspired makeover. That means the jungle setting of the original Temple Run has given way to the Scottish highlands, and instead of controlling an intrepid explorer trying to outrun a horde of demonic monkeys, you’re helping Brave heroine Merida stay a step ahead of a very unfriendly bear. Apart from a few other additions we’ll get to a moment, there’s not a whole lot to differentiate Temple Run from its Brave-themed offshoot.
So we should probably review the basic gameplay in Temple Run on the off-chance that your iOS device doesn’t contain one of the 80 million downloads of the game. Your explorer is a man in constant motion. You control how he eludes his monkey pursuers by swiping in the direction that the temple’s winding path demands; you can also swipe up or down to avoid obstacles in your path. Along the way, you collect coins, which you can cash in for power-ups or even new characters from a rotating cast of explorers.
I won’t pretend to be a huge fan of Temple Run—a fact that I’m sure has the developers crying all the way to bank. I find the controls a little unforgiving: Many’s the time I’ve swiped left only to have the game treat my sideways swipe as an upward—and game-ending—one. The game’s objective system in which you complete tasks to increase your score multiplier doesn’t really capture my imagination or inspire replayability in the way that similar setups in Ski Safari and Tiny Wings do. That said, Temple Run is certainly addictive, and its compact length is just about perfect for the casual gamer. I also think it does a great job integrating iOS’s Game Center, superimposing the farthest distance your friends have traveled on your screen.
Temple Run: Brave essentially offers the same experience, right down to the demanding controls. In its most significant departure from the original, Temple Run: Brave adds an archery challenge to the course. As you run, you’ll occasionally spot a series of targets; tapping them scores a bullseye and adds to your point total. It’s a nice if ultimately inconsequential addition to the proceedings.
Another noteworthy change is the graphics, which look a little sharper than in the original Temple Run. (Then again, it’s not like you have the time to stand around and admire the scenery.) One graphical change is less welcome: Temple Run: Brave introduces a healthy dose of Scottish fog to the landscape. It’s certainly an atmospheric addition, but the fog makes it more difficult to see too far ahead on the course. Gamers will either welcome the additional challenge or curse it. I lean toward the latter, only because one of the obstacles—a gray-colored tree trunk—blends in with the fog until you’re almost tripping right over it.
Temple Run: Brave is a tricky game to recommend. Fans of the original Temple Run may love seeing a game they enjoy transported to a new setting—or they may wonder why they should pay $1 for a game that’s not all that different from one they already own. Anyone who enjoys the movie Brave may like the occasional snippets of dialogue from Merida—or they may find her limited lines too repetitive and wonder why the game doesn’t feature a more obvious tie-in to the movie. At the end of the day, I found Temple Run: Brave to be a competently-made game that offers the exact same thrills and spills as the original Temple Run. And while that’s not a bad standard to meet, I guess I was expecting something more.
[Philip Michaels is the editor of Macworld.com.]