Running games are a dime a dozen in the App Store—and for good reason. They’re fun, incredibly addicting, and basically created for touch devices. Most of these games only require one or two buttons, and the quick-pace means even if you die a dozen times, you’ll be back for more as soon as the game loads.
Canabalt is the king of these games. It has everything: cutesy pixel graphics, excellent music, a blisteringly fast pace, and a subtext that’s only revealed if you find the time to lift your eyes from your tiny hero. In the background huge aliens have invaded earth. It’s a beautiful, simple touch and it adds a plot to a game that definitely doesn’t need one.
Line Runner is the hardest game I’ve ever played on i0S. It seems content to present itself as a game that’s cute and accessible, only to break your soul mere moments after starting. The background of Line Runner is the now familiar graph paper (made popular by games like Doodle Jump) and the clunky graphics imply the game is unchallenging.
Even Line Runner’s gameplay sounds easy: an invisible button on the left makes you roll, an invisible button on the right makes you jump. Small squares come flying toward you and you either have to jump over them or roll under them. So why’s it so hard?
Probably because the game moves at a million miles an hour. If you want to rack up a respectable score, you’ll have to blur your vision so you can see the entire screen. The app developer calls this feature “Increasing difficulty from easy to bone breaking.” We call shenanigans. This game is bone breaking from the start.
Plenty of popular iOS apps started their lives as Flash games, in fact Canabalt and Robot Unicorn Attack first got their legs through Flash. We loved RUA on our computers but now that it’s dashed onto our iOS devices, we can’t put it down. Unlike the majority of running games, Robot Unicorn Attack doesn’t utilize a one-and-done gameplay, instead it gives you three lives, which are added together at the end. That makes the game all that more appealing—a poor run doesn’t mean you can’t still get a high score. The controls are perfectly suited for iPhones and iPod touches and the vibrant colors and Erasure music works in perfect harmony. Even blown up on the iPad version the little unicorn looks dashing.
Gravity Guy is the only running game we’ve ever played that doesn’t give you an option to jump. Instead, you’re given a single button, which inverses gravity. This makes escaping your futuristic space captors possible, but not easy. The levels are all set up in such a way that you’re required to tap the buttons at the perfect time, which will have you bouncing from ceiling to floor, around crates, lasers, and dozens of obstacles. Get caught up too long and the space police (seriously) will apprehend you and you’ll have to restart the level. Gravity Guy has dozens of levels, that all flow into each other admirably. As you complete the story mode, you’ll unlock other modes, like Endless Mode, Online multiplayer, and practice mode.
There are not too many things that are cooler and more nightmare-inducing than a human-sized rat who skateboards from the rooftops of a metropolis city at night. Rat on a Skateboard doesn’t just sell us on its absurd premise though, it’s loaded with more modes than even Gravity Guy, and every single one of them is fun. Whether you’re trying to avoid banana peels that fall from the sky, kickflip over crates, or just trying to survive for the longest possible time, Rat on a Skateboard manages to keep it fresh and fun. If skateboards aren’t really your thing, doughnut games has also made a practically identical version of Rat on a Skateboard in which the little critter is on a Scooter. It’s name? Rat on a Scooter, of course.