Food Run is the first release from Kevin Ng’s Pixels on Toast indie studio. The game is a charming platformer that pays tribute to classic platforming titles of yesteryear while bringing something fresh to the glut of iOS games in the genre. Using just the one control mechanic, tap to jump, it’s impressive just how much variety is in there and a testament to how much Pixels on Toast has honed their game engine.
Collecting stars and other fruits is the aim here, in collecting other fruits you unlock them as playable avatars. Your character trundles along initially, gradually building up pace and running, jumping, rolling and stomping around as the level progresses. It has that Sonic the Hedgehog quality, in that you find yourself wanting to keep racing along, pulling off perfect jumps as you go to keep the rythm. Food Run starts off very simply, then layers on the different hazards, enemies and obstacles on a level-by-level basis. So by the middle of the game there’s a lot going on like moving poles to climb, walls to wall-jump from and water hazards to avoid.
The simplicity of control is deceiving, as pinpoint timing is needed to traverse many of the later stages. A knowing of when to jump and when to let your character tumble along becomes required to 100% the various levels. Hidden paths and multiple routes are all included to give a much deeper game than I expected. As you collect other fruits they follow along behind, like ducklings following their mother. On more than one occasion I found myself annoyed I had let one drop off the pack by being hit by an enemy, and restarted to save them next time around. Given the cute way the fruits toddle along, it’s no wonder I became enamoured by them. Their distinct lack of eyes, arms and mouths actually helps make them all the more endearing.
The visuals overall are sickly sweet with a nice variety of colours as the player makes their way through the various themed worlds. Everything is crisp and clean, with some of the candy-themed levels looking like something straight out of an HD version of Zool. You’ll eventually find your favourite avatar and stick with it, until another comes along and replaces it (little melon FTW!).
The polka soundtrack by composer Skip Peck just perfectly suits the games mood. It’s playfully quaint and innocent, just a jolly song that happily loops around your head. The problem with many mobile games is the soundtrack can become very repetitive, very quickly, but Food Run‘s theme is a treat and will definitely help put you in a good mood when playing on the commute home. It’s a crime not to play this with headphones on.
For 69p, Food Run is an excellent addition to anyone’s iOS library and a great example of the complexity that can be achieved within such a simple control scheme. Rather than shoehorn a traditional platformer control scheme into a touch-screen game, Pixels on Toast has given us a game that works in harmony with its host platform. If you’re running iOS 4.3 or above, you really should pick this up when it’s released on 22 January.