Smart phones game developers didn’t invent the continuous motion or “running” game genre, but they definitely popularized it. It’s a genre perfectly suited for mobile play--fast and easy to get in to, and they require minimal input (in most cases). Most people that are into mobile gaming know the big names in the genre, Canabalt and Jetpack Joyride, both of which are excellent games. If you’ve already played those, here are five more you might find fun.
Note: The Google Play Store is littered with me-too clones and bad running game rip offs. I played several in the genre, and these represent some of the best.
Stellar Escape puts you in the shoes of an astronaut fleeing an alien base. You’ll jump, slide, vault and climb around a variety of obstacles through a set of increasingly difficult levels. The exaggerated cartoony animation is superb, definitely my favorite thing about this game. The button layout is under the on-screen action, not on top, so your thumbs don’t get in the way. Though when things get hectic, it can be easy to hit the wrong one.
Micro-transactions? Yes, but only to upgrade to the full version, which unlocks a few dozen more levels.
Maybe the best looking game on the list, Wind-Up Knight is difficult but rewarding. Seriously, if you can play perfectly, the game rewards you with free gear and level packs. Of course you can pay to unlock levels and gear too. I aced the first set of ten and got the second set free, but I’m not sure I can do the others without losing my sanity. The game has a steady stream of ability unlocks—double jumping, shield guarding, rolling, etc.—to help mix things up and keep you on your toes. The only fault I can find with this excellent game is that the control buttons are a little on the small side.
Micro-transactions? Yes. You can purchase additional level sets as well as in-game points, which you can use to outfit your knight with better gear, e.g., a helmet that can take multiple hits.
This one is just plain weird. You play a strange person-like creature with extendable legs. The further you extend them, the faster you move. You raise and lower Mr. Legs to avoid birds and bombs and eat cherries. Simply tap the screen to start moving, and then slide up and down anywhere to extend and retract his legs. The unique art style, quirky music, and easy controls make this one worth playing.
Temple Run has eaten up most of my mobile gaming time lately. It’s one of the few running games that isn’t from the side or played in landscape. You play an adventurer, dashing through ruins with a cursed idol, while strange monkey-like creatures chase you. The levels are randomly generated and feature a nice bit of variety. You tilt the phone side to side to lean your runner and collect coins littered about the world. Swipe up to jump, down to slide, and left or right to turn 90 degrees. This one has me hooked because of the achievement and upgrade system. Like many games, you can buy more in-game currency with real money, but in Temple Run, the upgrades are just low enough to make you think if you stick with it, you can make enough on your own. And so you try, and try, and try.
Micro-transactions? Yes. You can buy more coins to aid in the purchase of upgrades.
This simple little game is absolutely delightful (picture at the top). As the name implies, it’s not about running. You play a charming British man in a top hat, out on his evening constitutional. Controls are simple, tap the screen to start him walking through the snow, tap and hold when the wind blows to make him clutch his top hat. The goal is to make it as far as possible without losing your hat. I love this game’s presentation. It’s simple and silly, and the pixel art visuals and retro 8-bit music are great. I also love the polite and pithy ponderings that pop-up as you walk.