Check out our review of the retro-inspired platformer – Mr. Run and Jump.
Published by Atari, this back-to-basics title has lots of history and pedigree behind it. But in an age when we’re not short of great platformers, will it stand out among the rest?
Running and jumping. These two verbs form the basis of pretty much every platformer since a big gorilla decided to start hurling barrels at you.
That’s why it’s fitting that it’s the grandaddies of video game development Atari have decided to take things back to their roots with the charmingly named Mr Run and Jump. With a title like that, you might think this new release is a remake of some ancient 2600 title, but this is a brand new IP, and more of a love letter to that era as a whole.
Now I bloody love a good platformer. There’s something so satisfying about what can be achieved within the limitations of the 2D plane, and we’ve had some absolute gems in the past few years. But how would Mr. Run and Jump stack up among these modern classics? Watch on to find out…
So what is Run and Jump man all about, aside from, you know, running and jumping? Well, much like the Marios and Sonics of old, there really isn’t much to it. You must defeat the nefarious Void from taking over the Realms of Colour and also save your canine pal – Leap the Dog. Now instant points for including a cute dog in the story, but come on, you’re not playing this game for the story. It’s merely a shallow layer of set dressing to frame the real main course – the gameplay.
The game starts you off with the classic Atari visuals, the kind that make NES games look futuristic. But long before the nostalgia goes from charming to irritating, you’re transported into a world of hyper stylised, modern neon graphics. It’s very retro-futurescape, and I bloomin’ love it.
Now the gameplay. It reminded me a lot of games like Celeste, with plenty of fluid, hyper precise vertical and horizontal platforming, where you can zip up walls as easily as you can dash along the ground. And intentional or not, there’s plenty of elements to the movement that feel like homages to the platformers of old, like how crouching transforms you into a Sonic-esque spinball.
But overall the movement and physics feel really good. While I would say the levels are far from easy, nothing ever felt unfair or unbalanced. If I ballsed something up, it was because of me, not something wrong with the game. And when you get into the rhythm of things, it feels really good. I can definitely see this being a firm favourite with speedrunners, as there’s a fluidity to everything that I can see far more talented players than me making the most of to get the best times.
There was also this vibe that there were exploits and tricks that could be done to breeze through areas. I didn’t find any myself, but you know when you just get the feeling they might be? Maybe it’s just me, but either way, if you like going fast I think you’re going to have fun.
But that isn’t to say Mr. Run and Jump is just for the elite. There’s plenty of customisation in the settings to control the challenge on offer. It’s always great to see games that offer comprehensive accessibility, meaning no matter if you’re a hardcore gamer or haven’t picked up a controller since they had a joystick slapped in the middle of them, you’ll be up and running in no time.
The levels themselves are fairly linear. There’s a couple of branching paths that unlock upon receiving new abilities, but nothing that you’d consider Metroidvanian. It’s very much a case of getting from point A to point B, which might limit the replayability for some people. With that being said, there’s about 30 hours of gameplay if you complete absolutely everything there is on offer.
The only thing is, while there’s a lot to be said for bringing things back to basics, it does make things feel a little generic. Don’t get me wrong, nothing feels bad (far from it), but nothing stuck out as something I haven’t done many times before with many other games. While I had a great time playing, I don’t think I’ll be coming back to it or will remember much about it in a few month’s time, which is a real shame.
I’m arguably more excited about the upcoming Atari 2600 release of Mr. Run and Jump, which will be the first official release for the console since 1990. While it’s not going to do anything the more advanced version can’t, there’s something much more special about playing it on a chunky CRT with a big fat cartridge. Sure it’ll be more niche, but I think that’ll be the thing Mr. Run and Jump will be most remembered for.
But I’ve started waffling, so let me know if you’ve played Mr. Run and Jump yet and what you think about it. I’d love to read your thoughts and have a chat in the comments. And while you’re down there don’t forget to subscribe for plenty more on all things gaming, and visit upsidedownshark.com for everything we’ve got going on.
Until then my name is Tom, this has been UDS and we’ll see you next time.