No siree! Not if I want to continue playing mobile gaming’s most worn out genre, the so-called endless runner. What felt fresh and fun back in the early wave of smartphone games is now straying into cookie-cutter cash-grab territory, as demonstrated by Temple Run 2.
If you missed the very similar first game, Temple Run 2 casts you as an adventurer who has just stolen a golden idol from a temple, and must hightail it through a randomly generated series of environments while being pursued by a giant monkey-sloth-bear thing. Through flicks and swipe on your iOS device or Android touchscreen, you’ll round corners, leap over gaps and slide under obstacles, while tilting your device veers your adventurer (or adventueress – there are four unlockable characters) from side to side along the path or, in some cases, mine cart track.
Your goal is to scoop up as many coins as possible and get as a far as you can, but as the action speeds up and the path gets ever twistier and more fraught with perils, eventually you’ll plunge off a cliff, get roasted by a gout of flame or stumble over a rock outcropping and be devoured by the gorilla-wolverine-vole thing.
If you die, you can pay a gem to be resurrected and continue. Die again, and it’ll cost you two gems to avoid going back to the beginning. Then four gems. You get the idea.
Gems are found randomly sprinkled throughout the environments, but they’re rare. If you really want to rack up a high score, you’re going to want to buy extra gem packs as in-app purchases. If you want to upgrade your abilities, unlock new characters and boost your chances of survivability without grinding away at coin collecting for an hour or five, you’ll probably want to buy extra coin bundles, too.
Guh. No. No more. No more of these games that weasel a dollar here, a dollar there, until suddenly you’ve spent $15 on a freakin’ iPhone game. It’s time to put our collective feet down and say no.
I’ll grant that Temple Run 2 is far less flagrant than a lot of games that thrive on microtransactions. And despite my snark and spittle, it’s certainly enjoyable enough for what it is. The high-def visuals are fantastic, the action is fast and fluid and the randomly generated levels make every run fresh.
I just hate that it’s yet another game engineered around upgrading your game character and your overall experience by paying real-world dollars, and that it tries to be so “who, me?” about it. I see through you, Temple Run 2. You bet I do.
Is it so weird that I’d rather pay $5 up front for a game based on fun, addictive core design principles than a “freemium” game that ends up feeling like an interactive advertisement for bundles of coins or gems or Smurfberries or whatever the currency of the moment is?
Or that I’d rather play a game like Punch Quest or Jetpack Joyride, which also allow for paid upgrades but never feel like the bait-and-switch that Temple Run 2 is?
Maybe it is weird. In that case, don’t mind me. I’ll just run along.