SpeedRunners teaches us the act of um, running. At speed. The FingerGuns review;
So then, in SpeedRunners four of you run really fast. You have to be fast enough so that your opponents joining you on this endless loop of running around each level are so far behind that they get pushed off the screen and explode in a ball of fire whilst you tear it around leaving them in your dust. You have to give the game credit for not being complicated. If you’re left behind, you’re dead. Think of Elimination mode in the Micro Machines, only far more colourful and a hell of a lot more fun.
SpeedRunners was a game I first came across about a year ago after playing it at some game event I don’t remember the name of. I said at the time that it was the kind of game I would enjoy playing with friends in front of a big screen as we tear it around together, all buddy-like and whatnot. Well, then it was released on PC instead. Now, yes I’m aware there are ways to get your PC to work on your sexy 4K TV, but I didn’t know how. I’m not that clever, being a mere console basher and all..ergo, I was left wanting. I did pick it up for PC in the end and had a good laugh with it but it was just me stuck on my own running around. A good laugh, but you know throughout the single player that you should be playing this with other real human beings that are nearby. Namely, on your sofa with you.
Fortunately, SpeedRunners, out of nowhere, just dropped on my shiny PS4 Pro after launching on Xbox One last month and I’m delighted. How does it translate? Well, let’s begin now.
Hidden under this deeply competitive footracer is good ol’ fashioned platformer. In each level there are pitfalls, obstacles, platforms you can run across and swing from, all of which will slow you down should you bundle into them, which you may do on several occasions. You can slide under and jump over certain sections which are to narrow to run through naturally, and you can also be thrown up in the air on springboards and land on spikes. It’s almost as if you’re given free reign in the Sonic the Hedgehog theme park to run about it the way Sonic himself would, although there are no enemies on the ground per se, you’re just competiting against your four other competitors to ensure you stay within the confides of the screen.
That’s all very well and good, you might say, but am I able to pierce my opponents with blades to pull them back behind me if they’re shooting ahead? Why yes, you have a plethora of weapons you can unlock as you progress through the game, such as homing missiles, ice blasts and projectiles which can slow down your opponents and in true competitive Mario Kart style you can lay traps and crates for your enemies to run into. You can shoot these weapons in front or behind you depending on your need, and if you’re lagging behind a bit you’ll get the better weaponry.
One particular string in your bow which will prove extremely valuable is the speed boost. If you catch in the corner of your eye that your opponent is near the edge of the screen, you may find that boosting will push them off completely, giving you an extra nudge of speed in the to kick them out of the game. It also works the other way around, naturally boosting will allow you to catch up with those that are flying ahead of you. Boosts, naturally are limited but can be refilled by running through boost pads which are scattered across the levels. It’s probably worth playing through a level a couple of times to find out exactly where they are so your optimal route can ensure that you’re always near a pad to give you that extra kick.
Mutliplayer is where you’re going to get the best out of this game. Either playing it locally or online, your skills are truly tested against the more advanced players on the leaderboards, and they won’t take it easy on you. At the time of writing this there seems to be a small number of players that have already joined the online ranks and whilst I did my best to compete I couldn’t even get close..such is their divine genius. Matchmaking can take a while (a few minutes at last test), but the game seemed to run smoothly enough whilst I was playing which is a relief, as a game built on quick thinking and immediate button responses it’s critical there is next to no lag. I understand there were issues on PC, I’m happy to report there doesn’t seem to be any such issues on PS4. Do give us a shout if you hear otherwise, though.
The basic principles of SpeedRunners is just that, speed running. If you’re a master of the genre you’re going to obsess over which is the correct route to go and running it without a single hiccup. The game is designed to reward you for running as quick as you can as flawlessly as you can. If you’re not a speed runner of games this is a cracker of a jumping off point. The game isn’t tremendously difficult in the first few stages and depending on what difficulty you choose, you’re going to want to learn every route in the level before you start moving up the ranks. It’s probably worth tearing through the fun single player mode against the AI bots before you consider taking it online.
I had to give a shout out to the SpeedRunners soundtrack. Every level is scored so exquisitely, from the heavy guitars to the terrific string arrangements, ensuring the pace is kept up in time with the music. It’s terrific, with a special nod to the ‘Theme Park’ level music which I’ve been humming for days. Just glorious.
So SpeedRunners is a little cracker of a game that may fall a little under the radar as we move into the bigger months of the year for releases. If it does, it would be a huge shame as we’ve had a blast tearing it around the levels and finding our optimum routes. There’s very little in the game other than the basic four player running but with plenty of levels and routes to find, it will certainly keep you busy for a good while. If you take it seriously and get pretty damn good, you’re going to want to take it online to prove your metal.
You can get the game either vanilla or with all the extra DLC including character packs and more for an extra fiver. Our recommendation? Go for the Deluxe edition, if you wanna experience this game at its past, you need Salem’s Sprint Squad…just a personal favourite. Oh, and the Trail Pack makes it all so much more visually interesting. So yeah, get on it.
SpeedRunners has finally made its way to consoles and we’re very happy about it. It’s not perfect, and is very much one experience, but it’s going to keep you busy as hell if you stick at it and is a cracker of a local multiplayer. Don’t miss it.
SpeedRunners is available now on PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One and PC.
Developers: DoubleDutch Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher.