Runbow Pocket (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Renan Fontes 10.07.2017

Review for Runbow Pocket on Nintendo 3DS

Self-described as the "party platformer," the original Runbow combined single player, short burst platforming with a hectic, competitive multiplayer. As promising as the multiplayer was, a low install base meant that the online was effectively dead on arrival for both the Wii U and Steam. Perhaps foreseeing this recurrence, 13AM Games made sure to pack Runbow Pocket with a bit more single player content to make sure the player base has something more substantial to go back to this time around.

It's almost hard to believe that Runbow was ever on anything but a handheld device considering just how well it lends itself to the 3DS format. At its core, Runbow Pocket is a pick up and play game that focuses on short levels in favour of the more traditional, minutes long stages found in most platformers.

Most pick up and play platformers tend to focus on certain gimmick per world or stage, but Runbow breaks away from those conventions, as well, in order to truly stand out in a generation with no shortage of platformers.

Screenshot for Runbow Pocket on Nintendo 3DS

Just about any given level features a colour wall that shifts the tint of the stage every few seconds. Platforms and obstacles that match the colour of the background disappear until the wall changes again. In earlier stages, this doesn't do much but stall progress by a few seconds. In later stages, however, it's utilised to create a sense of tension as being on the wrong platform at the wrong time will most certainly lead to death.

Death follows the same risk free concept that titles like Super Meat Boy and Slime-san abide by. Levels are short enough where dying is rarely a setback. That isn't to say the various single player modes can't be frustrating, though. Runbow Pocket has a fair amount of nice, short levels but there are a few that either go too far with their gimmick or simply don't offer much in the way of variety of platforming.

Self-progressing levels tend to fare the worst of the bunch. In theory, they require a quick attention to detail in order to outmanoeuvre the moving wall. In execution, these stages necessitate either luck or knowing the layout beforehand in order to get the best time on a first run while also stumbling by simply bringing the platforming pace to a grind.

Screenshot for Runbow Pocket on Nintendo 3DS

On the other side of weak levels are the overtly simple ones. Defeating a certain amount of enemies doesn't really constitute for an engaging platforming stage when the gameplay itself doesn't put its focus on combat.

Characters have access to a jump, a punch, and a punch-jump combo that acts as a dash of sorts, but anything resembling combat amounts to little more than slapping an enemy once.

Despite some weaker stages, the majority of the single player content is fairly strong. Adventure mode has characters unlock levels on a grid, moving between four different, if a bit bland and visually similar, worlds while Bowhemoth acts as a fitting super level that challenges just about every major mechanic and design element. Satura's Space Adventure also acts as a supplement to the base adventure mode, featuring its own grid and set of stages.

Screenshot for Runbow Pocket on Nintendo 3DS

Thanks to each completed level in both adventure modes rewarding a minimum of one medal, cosmetic changes and art pieces are unlocked with a high frequency. While the added costumes/characters change little and the art isn't too exciting to look at, the quick paced unlocking allows for the single player to feel constantly rewarding.

While there's plenty of single player content to dig into, the multiplayer has been neutered for the 3DS rerelease. Online boiling down to a group of four instead of nine takes away a lot of the novelty that the original Runbow's multiplayer had. In general, the online also faces the same issues that the Wii U and Steam releases had, making it little more than a bonus mode.

Runbow Pocket is rough around the edges, but it has a very clear identity and charm that makes it worth playing. At its worst, it can be a bit tedious and feel like a waste of a few minutes but, at it's best, it's also an exciting race to the finish line with plenty of costumes and characters to fiddle around with. Not every idea is a winner, but most here are.

Screenshot for Runbow Pocket on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Thanks to a mix of the accessibility of the 3DS and the small level lengths, Runbow Pocket manages to be a fun way to kill a few hours without feeling derivative of its Wii U and Steam counterparts. Unlockables don't hold much weight in the grand scheme of things, but they occur frequently enough to ensure that just about every success is a rewarding one. Stages are designed to be completed in under a minute, incentivising quick, satisfying bursts of gameplay over longer and more traditional platforming. The lack of elaborate set pieces and sophisticated design does hold back the overall experience, but the great use of colour at the core of each stage makes for a vibrant world worth jumping in and out of, even for just a few minutes at time.

Developer

13AM

Publisher

13AM

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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