I ain’t afraid of no Ghost!
For a while now the appstore has been rampant with endless runner games. My first experience with one was the excellent Canabalt, progressing onto Temple Run and Jetpack Joyride. Now, from Underground Pixel comes Mansion Run, a 2D endless runner that tries to introduce a new mechanic to the genre. No longer are you destined to duck barriers and jump pitfalls but you navigate between the different floors of a Scooby Doo like mansion whilst evading the possessed furniture scattered over all floors and collecting the ingame currency of bones. Bones can be used to purchase a random power up ranging from slow-mo, ghost repel abilities and invincibility, activated by simply swiping right whilst playing.
You start the game as Bones Wellington, a living skeleton who enjoys drinking merlot and spending time in front of a roaring fireplace. B. Wellington’s mansion is suffering from a ghost infestation. Unsure what to do, Bones runs for it! As you progress you’ll also unlock two other cameo characters too, Dr Cavor from the Cavorite games and Hook Champ from, yep, Hook Champ!
Mansion Run is extremely simple, but that’s where it’s charm lays. Simplicity is the key here, right down to its vintage 8bit graphics. It’s not there for you to sit and play for countless hours, getting lost in a deep and rich story because there isn’t one. It’s simply there like an easily accessible friend to help you waste those spare minutes each day whilst doing the mundane tasks like waiting for a bus, or sitting on the commode, although I tend not to allow my friends join me in the toilet…
Mansion Run’s emphasis isn’t on an ever-increasing speed of the current run either but more about the furniture placement that, at times leaves minimal room for maneuver and requires near perfect timing. That tiny scrap of space between the oncoming couch and the trophy on the floor below might make it seem like you’re done for, but with just the right timing you’ll squeak through unscathed.
Every now and then, all 4 rows will have furniture blocking your path at the same time and at this point the gameplay decelerates and you’re given a quick time event to play. Upon successful input of the onscreen directions the furniture blocking your path will disappear allowing you to continue your condemned sprint, get it wrong however and you lose one of your 3 lives.
The soundtrack is a little on the plain side, which is a letdown for my liking as even some of the most basic and retro looking games out there have mind-blowing soundtracks and it does show when the extra effort has been made. The audio lacks a suspenseful build up and a feeling of impending doom found in other games of the same genre. To it’s credit however it does feel genuinely retro and when running through a secret cellar or bonus basement collecting a line of bones the gratifying collection sound effect gives you a feeling of just hitting a tidy jackpot on a fruit machine. Along the main floors the bones are quite sparsely spread out so keeping an eye out for these hidden floors is vital if you want to purchase power-ups.
Attempts made to mix things up with Mansion Run by removing the “jump the gap” mentality of endless runners and adding a more layered approach does make the game stand out from the crowd slightly but the lack of varying environments as you progress further and no challenges other than beating your friends high score through Game Center does mean that Mansion Run won’t be taking away the full 5 stars.
A good time burner, but lacking in lasting appeal.
Mansion Run is available as a Universal download for $0.99