Game review: Rungunjumpgun a nostalgic test of side-scroll skills

Prepare to lose your mind in this lo-res, two-button, 100-level old-school game that is a ‘torturously conceived journey into pure dedication and frustration’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 October, 2016, 5:14pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 October, 2016, 5:14pm



4/5 stars

There’s an inherent beauty in classic arcade games, and these simple experiences in which the goal is just to move forward with perfect hand-eye coordination can be strangely satisfying. You can see this in YouTube videos which show obsessive gamers complete the entire run of Sonic or Super Mario Bros. 3 in less than five minutes.

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Love for nostalgic, adrenaline-filled adventures runs strong among developers, but never have we seen it so fanatically concentrated as in the perfectly named PC game RunGunJumpGun. For anyone confident in their arcade abilities, be warned: it’s far from stress-free. Despite its two-button format, crude graphics and chip-tune soundtrack, this game offers a true test of skill, a torturously conceived journey into pure dedication and frustration.

It starts by following the standard side-scrolling path, kicking off with a slow series of tutorial-like levels that lull you into a false sense of confidence. And then everything falls apart. Those spikes that never moved suddenly start slashing every which way, that once-clear path is now full of barrels rolling down for a precise shot, energy beams appear out of nowhere, spaceships dart in and out at random.

Some levels might take less than a half a minute to complete, but others could potentially take you hours. There’s more than 100 stages here, each seemingly designed by a master of pure torment, and as your day job becomes inconsequential and every relationship in your life slowly falls apart, the game turns into some kind of David Cronenberg compulsive nightmare.

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Latter parts of the game are an LSD trip into the absolutely bizarre, as the screen warps, gravity reverses and in the real world, combinations of agony, anger and defeat combine to the point where you may feel you’re losing your mind.

Or at least, that’s how it was for us. Who knows, you might breeze through the experience – in which case, by all means, pony up to its incredible world and dare to take the plunge. At just more then HK$50 a pop, RunGunJumpGun stands out as a brilliantly conceived indie release, so perfectly original, so stunningly creative, and yet, so maddening in its lack of easy interaction.

We hate to love it.