Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Run Roo Run ($0.99 iPhone, $1.99 iPad) is a simple to learn, yet hard to master side-scrolling game that rewards split-second accuracy. If you were one of those gamers that toiled over Mario to get the timing of jumping from pipe to pipe just right, then this is the game for you. Run Roo Run forgoes complex touch-based controls, yet still delivers that satisfying rush when you make the right moves.
Gameplay is very basic. The main character, Roo, begins running at an even pace across the screen. As Roo approaches an obstacle, you jump by tapping the screen. Jump too soon, and you land on the obstacle. Jump too late, and you run into the obstacle. Each level is timed: How long it takes to beat a level determines your reward, since the timer keeps going every time you run into an obstacle. Between jumping, double jumping, pausing and restarting, you end up driving yourself nuts trying to make it through a given level in record time. The game ends up being about mastering split-second timing and pattern recall.
Each level occupies just a single screen, which combined, add up to Roo’s journey across Australia. With over four hundred individual screen challenges to overcome, the game seems almost endless. Roo learns new skills along the way to conquer new types of obstacles in order to keep things fresh. The game also keeps its edge by resetting quickly after each failed attempt; Roo is back up and ready to try again almost instantly, with no tedious intermediary screens getting in the way.
You can buy power-ups to slow time down or skip a level entirely via in-app purchase, but it definitely takes some satisfaction out of the game. However, with developer 5th Cell (which also created the celebrated Scribblenauts) committed to adding 10 new levels per week, you may need to take advantage of the occasional cheat just to keep up.