Runbow Video Review (Wii U)

Runbow Review Wii U

Chances are if you have been following the Nintendo indie scene, you have most likely heard of Runbow. Personally, I tried out the demo during E3 and had a blast with it. Needless to say, I was kind of excited to get my hands on it. Not to mention, the game was boasting a variety of characters from other indie titles so of course I was looking forward to playing as Shovel Knight, Gunvolt, and Teslamancer. But now that I have the game, just how is it? Is it worth your time and money?

Developed by 13AM Games, Runbow is an action platformer where you or up to eight other friends can do a variety of things like race to the finish, battle in an arena, or try to reach and hold a central platform for a couple of seconds. That might sound really generic at first, but what really makes Runbow unique is both its 60s poster art aesthetic and this color mechanic. But before I delve into this color mechanic that doesn’t have a name, I want to talk a little bit about the great presentation.


Like I said before, I love Runbow’s art style. Although it bears a striking resemblance to Speedrunners’ style, the 60s poster art direction certainly works well for this type of game. Plus, the title is filled with a wide array of different colors and backgrounds, which prevent any stage from becoming stale or repetitive. Even if you are playing online and you do encounter a stage you have already played before, the extensive variety of colors sort of distract you from noticing it. Bland visuals or themes are never an issue in Runbow. To add to this brilliant visual presentation is the catchy and upbeat soundtrack. The high energy tunes complement the game extremely well as they help encourage players to go quick and get pumped for the race or battle at hand. While I imagine some tracks could get repetitive after a while, there are enough tunes here to stop that from ever happening, especially online where you can chose whatever tune you want to listen to. But that’s not to say everything about the presentation is perfect because the game does suffer from quite a few technical hiccups and bugs.

For example, whenever I would jump on an enemy the game would chug and more often than not, this would lead me to my untimely demise. And unfortunately, this isn’t the only time you’ll encounter frame rate issues. Sometimes the game’s frame rate would stutter during regular gameplay as colors were changing rapidly or I was just moving too quickly. In addition, whenever I would play online with a buddy or two, the game would lag once again making it very difficult to play. See, Runbow is designed to be fast-paced, after all it is called “Runbow”, and these frame rate problems only serve to bog down this pace. It makes playing online somewhat frustrating, too. Now, I’ve only been playing with one other person at a time and I can only imagine what nine player matches, where people may not have the best internet connections, would be like. The other, major problem I have that can be sort of related to the technical issues are the loading times. As I was saying before, Runbow was designed to be a fast-paced game, and to accomplish this, the developers should make sure the time from gameplay to gameplay is fairly quick. However, the loading times bog down this otherwise fast pace, just like the frame rate issues. Since you die so often in the single player, respawn times should be instant like Hotline Miami or Speedrunners, which are two incredibly fast-paced titles. This would help make the game go a lot quicker and reduce a ton of waiting time in Runbow. But no, every time you die, you have to wait at a loading screen for a few seconds and honestly, this discouraged me from playing the game. Particularly in Bewhemoth mode, where I died almost 150 times, it is a huge problem. Everything about this game is high-energy and when you are not actually playing the game and on a loading screen, regardless of whether it is 15 or 5 seconds, it bogs down the pacing tremendously.

Despite all this, I still had fun with Runbow’s gameplay. I mean, although you don’t actually run a lot in this game, you more so jog, I still found it enjoyable to play against friends or try the various different single player challenges. Oh and I almost about the color mechanic and let me just say, this is easily the best and most interesting thing about Runbow. Basically how it works is that a certain array of colors will transition in some way onto the screen, and if that background color overlaps with a platform or gameplay element of that same color, that platform or gameplay element will disappear. It’s a bit hard to explain, but if you play this game and experience it first hand, you will know exactly how it works and how you have to deal with it. For instance, there could be some lasers of one color that block off a way up to the end goal. And every time a color transitions by, the lasers will disappear, so you have to time your jumps right when the background color “disables” the laser. This element makes the level design pretty complex, but I do have two nitpicks. Seldomly, this mechanic would slow the pace of the levels down as you would have to do a lot of waiting around for the colors to change. Coupled with the loading times, it makes some levels very challenging, which is good, and extremely frustrating, which is bad. And the other thing is that the rapid color transitions can sometimes be disorienting and cause some eye strain. I know that after I played about an hour of this title, I got a bit of a headache.

Overall though, Runbow is a decent game. I know all my complaining makes it seem like I didn’t care much for this title, but truth be told I had some fun with it. Playing with friends, although I couldn’t fully experience this feature, was really entertaining. And I can see people getting a lot out of the Bewhemoth and adventure mode for single player content. Not to mention, the abundance of playable indie characters is really cool to see and play as. But is it worth the asking price of 15 dollars. Well, honestly, no. I would not recommend Runbow to you if the gameplay you see on screen doesn’t appeal to you or you don’t really like online games. A large part of the replay value of Runbow comes from online play and if you are not into that, the single player doesn’t offer that much for 15 bucks. Plus, there are a ton of other indie games out there that are worth 15 bucks or less that I would prioritize you getting over Runbow. I know because of the technical problems I mentioned before, I didn’t see myself coming back to the game after about 4 hours. The slow pacing really hindered my experience. However, if you really want to get this game, then you can always wait for a sale or a price drop, which is probably your best option. But as always, if you disagree or agree with me, let me know in the comment section below. Thank you so much for watching and take care. Have a wonderful day and good bye.

Thanks again to our friend Haedox for reviewing Runbow for Always Nintendo! If you enjoy his content, make sure to check out his YouTube channel or follow him on Twitter.

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