Fast-action platformers have been coming back into the gaming scene quite a bit recently with titles like Super Meat Boy. While these games are not built for everyone (as they can be very unforgiving), the Xbox LIVE Indie Games platform has also been hit by this wave with titles like The Deep Cave and Aban Hawkins & the 1000 SPIKES. Originally released in June 2011 as a browser game, DoubleDutch Games’ SpeedRunner HD has landed on Microsoft’s Indie Game channel. Was the transition between the two platforms successful? Let’s find out.
SpeedRunner HD is all about going fast from the starting point of each level to the end. You are given a small set of moves to do so: run, slide, jump as well as a grappling hook. As you would expect from this kind of game, each level is filled with obstacles, traps and spike pits to make your journey harder. Aside from using the grappling hook, navigating through the game is not very hard. However, multiple paths are present in each level and it is up to the player to find the quickest route to get to the end. Basically, the game is a nice mix between Canabalt and N+. The game is fun, plays well and is challenging.
For the completionists out there, the game does reward you with Bronze/Silver/Gold medals on each level depending on how fast you were. Better yet, you are rewarded with a special prize via the game’s website if you get all gold medals. It’s nothing incredible but still a very good idea that more games should implement. In addition to this, there are some collectible items to find in each level requiring you to explore each level. Finally, a nice 4-player multiplayer mode has been included in this version of the game. In this mode, each player has a set number of lives that you must keep. In order to make your opponents lose a life, you must go insanely faster than them so that they can’t keep up and get pushed off the screen. This is a great multiplayer mechanic I had not seen since Shaun Palmer’s Pro Snowboarder back in 2001 (and that more games should incorporate it, in my opinion).
Speedrunner HD look is all about that comic book feel. From the story being showed to you via an actual comic as well as the characters and environments, everything in the game feels like a mix between Batman and Happy Tree Friends (without the useless violence and overly cute bunnies). I also felt like this game looked like an updated version of N+’s visuals on some occasions. On the audio side, the soundtrack also makes you feel like you are inside of a comic-book. In some ways, it even sounds a lot like what Comic Jumper had to offer about a year ago. It is nothing to go too crazy about but the audio does suck you inside the game and make you want to run faster than you actually can.
While SpeedRunner HD is a very entertaining game, it is also very short. How short? Well, getting through all the levels (both normal and bonus levels) with all gold medals as well as collecting all the collectibles took me under three hours. Since it is basically a port of the free PC version (with only a few more levels and differences in the levels), the game’s price is a little high (240 Microsoft Points). Sure, the game engine was completely re-built specifically for the Xbox LIVE Indie Games version but there is just not enough content for that price, in my opinion.
In short, I really enjoyed my time playing SpeedRunner HD but I wish it would have lasted much longer. If you are looking for a Canabalt/N+ type of game, go ahead and buy it, you won’t be disappointed. If you like these games but are not too sure about investing 240 Microsoft Points in an Indie Game, you can still get the Trial version or try the PC version here (while I did prefer to play the game with a standard controller).
– Fast and solid gameplay
– Nice art style
– Website reward (even if it’s nothing big)
– Too short on content
– A bit pricey since the game is available for free on PC
Game experience at time of redaction: Earned a gold medal on all levels (Normal and Bonus), earned all collectibles.
SpeedRunner HD is available on the Xbox LIVE Indies Games channel for the Xbox 360 for 240 Microsoft Points (3$USD).