Everyone has a game stored away in their download library that they’ve totally forgotten about and also forgotten just how good it really was. As Runner3 pops into my inbox I remember just how brilliant Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien was. It landed a size 12 training shoe up my rear end and became one of my favourite PS Vita titles of 2013. Now welcome the return of Runner3, the new entry in the acclaimed BIT.TRIP RUNNER series and I’m glad he’s back. Even though there’s no mention of BIT.TRIP, it still runs along the same path as Runner2 so you’ll not be disappointed. If you’ve never played Runner before don’t worry, there’s nothing you need to know from previous encounters. Just kick back and enjoy the ride.
Runner3 is all about running from left to right in an endless fashion. Starting off with a simple jump and collecting as many gold bars as possible (and other hidden pick-ups) Runner3 eases you in slowly, but the difficulty does ramp up quickly this time. You can’t stop this energetic character; Commander Video is a ruthless little chap charging about the place like a 3-year-old on Relentless. Jumping over wonderfully strange objects lessens the risk of impalement. Even a standard set of steps can cause a trip-up and death if not correctly executed. You’ll also have the opportunity to take control of vehicles that still require you to duck and dodge your way through levels.
Commander Video, that’s you, needs to save the planet. A fast and witty introduction from Charles Martinet (yes, he’s back too) sets the scene to this endearing little Switch number. Loading messages and wacky adverts from “Burger Mouth Burger Brand Mouth Burgers” along with Charles Martinet’s developing narrative are touches of genius from developers Choice Provisions.
The learning curve is steep, the game really kicks in a challenge once other mechanics are introduced. Checkpoints are few and far between and levels do feel decidedly longer than Runner2. Sliding, kicking, ducking, bouncing and even performing a little dance while racing to the finishing post all need to be perfected to advance. It’s the ability to think quickly and hope your fingers do what upstairs tells them to do that brings such a well-crafted and honed gaming experience to the Switch. Absolute concentration is required if you are to progress through the beautifully colourful worlds. Each time you restart it’s the same path ahead, so it becomes a double whammy of remembering what action to perform and when to perform it. Saying that there are certain paths that do branch off giving you a choice of route that lets you gain extra collectables like VHS tapes that, once all collected, open Retro Mode.
The bonus to Runner3 is the clever way the music oozes in and becomes a hypnotic electronic tribal dance theme. Perform a timed jump and a note gets added or a string section kicks in. The game subtly becomes a music rhythm game and totally rocks.
Runner3 is an awesome little endless runner that never loses breath. Completing each level is met with the greatest sense of satisfaction throughout and it’s this feeling that never lets up. Fast, addictive, with rock solid gameplay, fun does not come much better on Nintendo Switch.
Lizard Rating 8/10