If you loved Temple Run and its many copycats and clones but are in the mood for something a little more thrilling, DeNA has exactly the game for you in the form of the soon to be released free game Money Run, which replaces that too familiar treasure hunter or licensed character and those assorted colorful leap-happy maps with a pure arcade experience that plays like a cross between Spy Hunter and Twisted Metal with a few cool twists. Actually, this isn’t a mere cosmetic re-skinning job at all, as the fast-paced racing action chock full of plenty of crashes and explosions feels straight out of some Hollywood blockbuster or action-packed TV series.
DeNA’s enthusiastic Barry Dorf showed off a build of the game and I was immediately impressed by the console-quality visuals running at a slick frame rate on the iPhone he was holding. From what I gathered, missions can be tackled in a few ways from straight up coin grabbing and zooming to the finish or taking out as many vehicles in your way using your car (armed or unarmed) without wrecking yourself into scrap. Part of the core gameplay revolves around collecting cars, and as each car in your garage represents a “life”, building up a reserve will assure you keep playing (and collecting) over time. To spice things up, players can wager their cars or compete for quality rides in live events that, should the game take off, make it a go-to title in the genre.
I’d even go as far to say this is more of a racing/car combat game than a pure “runner” based on the cool-looking upgradable cars alone. If it weren’t for the coins scattered about the highway map and a few jumps off conveniently placed ramps that sent the car sailing over death drops, you’d think this wasn’t even a “runner” game at all. In fact, given that there’s an evolving story mode as well as the expected multiplayer, over 300 different vehicles and 200 courses (set in six different locations), you could say that the game is the next step in the genre and yes, will be copied by other mobile app developers looking to cash in on the next big thing.
Of course, even as a FREE title, Money Run will live or die by what it brings to gamers who pick it up and get hooked in enough to want to spend real money on more content (or other DeNA games) in the future. Dorf noted that DeNA’s experience with the many games it runs in Japan combined with it working with solid development partners making excellent games gives the company an edge when out new properties and I had to agree. Money Run has the speed and looks to blow past any other “runner” game and while the simple pick up and play gameplay might not twist the arms of some more dedicated to gaming on other platforms, as with the other games DeNA showed off, this one just might convince even the most skeptical core gamer to take it for a spin. As much fun as the game is going to be for mobile gamers, it’s too bad games such as this don’t seem to be headed to consoles any time soon.
Granted, the potential of a billion possible new mobile users IS indeed a richer focus than any installed user base of a currently active console. But passing up the opportunity to get handheld gamers to part with a few more dollars with a version of this or other mobile games custom made for those platforms is something the “casual” games industry seems to be fine with. Me, I’d sell a great game to anyone who wants it at a price tailored to the device, but that’s why I don’t run a business I suppose…