GOTY

Zero's Game of the Year: Runbow

I've been a gaming man for over 25 years; that's longer than some of my esteemed colleagues here at Gintendo Namer Castle have been alive. In that time, trends have come and gone like the changing of the fashion season: light guns, virtual reality, motion controls... virtual reality is almost back again, that's how long I've been into the scene. In short, it takes a lot to surprise me, a lot to get my blood pumping and, almost, remind me why I got into games in the first place.

Enter Runbow.

On the face of it, the game is really simple. You control a generic platform hero/ine who jogs across a level that is usually so small that Mario could triple jump to the end. What sets it apart is that the colour of the background changes: if a platform/door/other object of that colour was on the screen, it blends into said background, essentially as if it were never there, until the colour changes a couple of seconds later. What results is a frantic race to land on a platform that's still there and judge the rhythm of a level: it's really unlike anything else you've played, even with the 2D platformer having a bit of a renaissance.

Firstly, let's talk something I don't usually spend much time on: music. The first two pieces of music you hear are this one on the menu screen and, for single players, this one in the first level. Infectious and unlike most videogame music, the latter in particular would fit perfectly with a montage of two people falling in love in a 60's screwball comedy (which is what they were going for, I'm sure). Aesthetically it's as bright and brash as you like, given the colour gimmick. You might argue that it's a bit simplistic but there's a style to it and everything works.

 Some achievements unlock other indie characters - here eShop darlings Juan from  Guacamelee!  and Shovel Knight from  Le Chevalier De Shovel  duke it out. And Hue's still in the lead.

Some achievements unlock other indie characters - here eShop darlings Juan from Guacamelee! and Shovel Knight from Le Chevalier De Shovel duke it out. And Hue's still in the lead.

The single-player campaign boasts over 140 levels, some boss battles (which are a shade disappointing) and a ranking system based on your time. Getting golds throughout unlocks in-game art and concept art, which is not uncommon, but at least a nice touch. There's also the dank dungeon of despair and despondency known only as 'The Bowhemoth' - a series of challenge levels strung together that will turn the air from rainbow-coloured to pure blue. Seriously, it's, like, well 'ard.

However, to only play Runbow in single player would be like only driving a car in first gear: there's so much more that it is capable of. Up to nine players can join in the race to the finish, at which point the fun levels go from 'high' to 'intergalactic'. Only seasoned Smash players will be able to absorb the levels of chaos that even five-player Runbow unleashes on your poor TV screen. In addition to being able to punch and kick your opponents, beautifully judged power-ups keep every on-screen player in the game (here's some footage). It's slick locally and on-line, which I like: it means there's something for the single player, something for the local multiplayer fan, and something for the on-line souls.

In short, I've ended up gushing about Runbow again, instead of maintaining any kind of reviewerly objectivity. It's a game made with real love and real craft (though thankfully no real Lovecraft) and a true jewel in the Wii U eShop crown. All this and it's the studio's first game, too. Immense.