Runbow Nintendo Switch Review

Jul 9, 2018

Developer: 13 AM Games

Another week, another WiiU port on the Nintendo Switch! Runbow is a multiplayer rhythm-based “racing” game on originally released for the WiiU in 2015. The debut game from Canadian studio 13 AM Games, Runbow was conceived as a Mario Kart style game focusing on frenetic gameplay, power ups, and most importantly: playing with friends.

Rhythm and racing are the key factors in Runbow, whether it be in a multiplayer arena or in the crushingly difficult Adventure Mode. The goal of each level is to simply run across platforms to the end of the level and collect a trophy. Seems easy enough, right? Well that’s where main gameplay mechanic from 13 AM Games comes into play. Each platform is a different color and the background cycles quite quickly through the color of the platforms. Each time the background color matches that of a platform, said platforms disappears until the color changes again (e.g. background is blue, no blue platforms). This mechanic forces the player to be aware of the cycling background colors but also the layout of the platforms and how they lead to the goal. The touted mode in Runbow is the multiplayer racing which consists of three different game-types: Run, Arena, and King of the Hill. Each gametype sets you against up to 8 foes in what can either be a race to the finish or a Smash Bros. style battle royale. Supporting both online and local play, the multiplayer received the most polish compared to the Adventure and Bohemoth modes. Adventure Mode is the main single player entry in Runbow, allowing players to challenge their skills through increasingly difficult levels.

Everything in Runbow is presented with a great amount of polish and, well, color. The backgrounds and characters are gorgeous and pop off the screen. Each level has a background layer that is beautifully done and constantly augmented by the bright background color cycles. This adds a great dimension of art to the game which can often have what seem like very repetitive level design. A great deal of effort went into offering tight controls to help battle the fast paced gameplay. Each jump and dash is expertly timed to the controller function, allowing players to not have to combat floaty physics or sticky jumps.

By far my favorite aspect of Runbow is the deep roster of the Nintendo eShop’s indie game characters. Right up front is Shantae, fresh of her excellent adventure in the Half-Genie Hero, complete with sound effects and outfits. Also available are Shovel Knight, Rusty from Steamworld Dig,  Commander Video from Bit.Trip Runner, Max from Mutant Mudds, Juan and Tostada from Guacamelee!, Xeodrifter, and many more to unlock.

My main complaints with Runbow come as a gamer that tends to play single-player adventures. While the multiplayer is top-notch, the Adventure Mode is a difficult and repetitive option that I was either frustrated with or bored by. Each level seems very similar and offers very little reprieve after you’ve grown furious at the “funny” messages that display every time you die (which will happen a lot). Combine the frustrating single player with the inability to add AI characters in multiplayer and I felt that I was left with what is primarily a party game.

Runbow is a front runner (only one pun this time!) for the must-have Nintendo Switch party game before the release of . It’s a great game for a group of friends at a party and makes great use of splitting up the joy-cons amongst a group. The presentation is top notch and the years of  tweaks by 13 AM Games shows in the fun and humorous nature. For fans of platforming mayhem, this might be the game for you. If you’re a single-player gamer looking for a fun time on a night off, this may be a pass.

6/10 A beautiful and well crafted game that is great for parties but short on single-player fun.