Friday, May 24, 2013

Video Game Review: Rat on the Run for iPhone

Stars: 1 out of 5
Pros: The Rat on a Scooter levels are fun
Cons: The rest of it is too challenging to be any fun
The Bottom Line:
Jump!  Collect the cheese
But timing must be perfect
Or face frustration

High Frustration Turns This Game into a Rat

With all the iPods and iPhones in my family, any family get together is filled with recommendations for free games and apps we've found.  At Thanksgiving, my brother was raving about Rat on the Run.  While Donut Games usually charges for their games, they were offering this one free at the time, so I quickly gave it a try.  Every so often I give it a try, but after 10 minutes I turn it off again in frustration.

The game has a simple premise.  You're a rat.  No, no, I mean your character is a rat.  The mission is to gather all the cheese on a level while avoiding such bad things as fire, blades, and spiders.  You complete the level when you've collected all the cheese.  The longer you go between pieces of cheese, the emptier your stomach gets.  Touching a baddie will decrease your "cheese level" significantly as well.  If it reaches zero, your rat dies.

There are two variations of levels you can play this way.  In the arcade, you are trying to beat 8 levels without losing all three lives.  If you manage to do that, you're high score is saved so you can try to beat it next time.  In the challenge mode, you can work your way through 30 levels trying to get a high score as quickly as you can.  The bad news here is that you only get one life.  The good news is that you can start at any level you have unlocked.  Of course, you have to start with level one and work your way up.

I was impressed with the graphics and the sound for the game.  Care was obviously put into them.  The background music can be a little repetitive and annoying, but the sound effects are good.  The graphics are cartoony, but they work perfectly in this game.

The controls are where I have my problem.  They've very simple.  Your rat moves in one direction and one direction only.  Your only job is to tap the screen to make him jump either to the next level or to avoid a baddie.  If he hits a wall, he'll turn and go the other direction.  When he hits a stop sign, he'll wait for your direction.  Simply tap the side of the screen for the direction you want him to go.

Sounds simple, right?  Unfortunately, the controls are too simple.  Once I reach level four in arcade and level five in challenge, I'm sunk.  No matter what I try, I can't get my rat past certain points.  Timing is absolutely everything in this game, but it seems no matter when I tell my rat to start moving again or jump, he dies in the same spots.  As a result, I find the game too frustrating to actually enjoy.

There is a third way to play beside arcade and challenge.  Rat on a Scooter puts our hero on a scooter.  (Shocking, I know.)  Gone are the baddies.  In this variation, the rat is attempting to jump on the scooter from platform to platform and grab the cheese.  Touch the screen to make him jump, but time it just right so he doesn't drop into the abyss.  This one took me a little while to get the hang of, but once I did, I really started to enjoy it.  It's still not very addicting, but I've wasted some enjoyable time with it.

And so my brother and I have agreed to disagree about Rat on the Run.  He loves to play it trying to beat his best score on the levels.  I get frustrated just trying to get through the levels once to get a high score to beat.  If you really want to give it a try, wait until the next time it is on sale.  Even then, I wouldn't recommend it.

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