There’s no shortage of ‘endless runner’ games these days, particularly on mobile platforms. Jetpack Joyride by Halfbrick Studios is a particularly memorable one which has you controlling a man with a jetpack to dodge obstacles and collect coins. Starting out on Android and IOS in 2016, Atomik: RunGunJumpGun is similar in premise but far more brutal and split into levels. Also, there are no microtransactions, just 120 solid levels of pure survival.
You play as a rogue scavenger in the ‘Entax System’; a part of the solar system where the sun is enveloping and destroying other planets. The inhabitants of the surviving planets each have different theories as to why the sun has been doing this but all of them mysteriously see Atomiks as the answer. The scavenger is out to collect Atomiks but the reason why is shrouded in mystery. For a fun little comic strip highlighting a little of what is going on, you can visit the official website.
It’s very simple to pick up and play, using just two buttons; one makes the scavenger shoot ahead whilst the other makes him shoot downwards to jump. A welcome feature is that the controls can be mapped to whichever buttons you like, so it can be played comfortably with one hand.
There are three different planets to blaze through. Each planet is split into sections which have their own levels. The sections have their own quirky characters who have a line of dialogue at the start and end of each level. Some of them are downright insane and others are more sinister. Nothing, however, is quite as insane as the levels themselves which can only be described as ‘hell in space’. Fireballs, small enemy ships, spinning saw blades, spiky windmills, lasers and turrets are all out to end your Atomik collection spree faster than you can blink. Combined with some
devious level design, it’s a recipe for addiction.
Later levels aren’t as simple as just moving to the right; you will be able to go up through the top of the screen and come back up through the bottom to avoid collisions. It’s smooth sailing at first until you’re expected to zigzag in a certain pattern, at the same time as blasting your way through barriers. Memorising the patterns and perfecting the timing is key to getting through such areas.
Water is another element which gets introduced later on and alters the jumping mechanic. Expect to die over and over again with very little time to celebrate when victory is achieved.
Failure results in quickly being transported back to the start. Failing isn’t too frustrating though because as merciless as the levels are, they are also very short. If you miss an Atomik along the way you may choose to fail, in which case there is a button you can press to teleport you back.
Atomiks are also needed to unlock the other planets but if you find the levels too difficult they can be skipped and tried again later. Viewing the list of levels also allows you to see how close you are to collecting all the Atomiks and how many times you’ve died in each one.
For those who are really struggling but want to try out the other planets and meet their inhabitants, there is actually an option to ‘unlock everything’. This will class you as having collected every Atomik and allow you to go to any planet and section you wish. Challenge levels will also be unlocked but won’t be classed as complete.
Atomik: RunGunJumpGun is like going back in time to the late 80’s with its 2D sprites and fluorescent colour scheme. The only issue that may annoy some people, but is warned about before playing, is the flashing effects of which there is quite a lot of during game play and especially after choosing a planet on the world selection screen.
The relentless action is accentuated even more by a loud, lively soundtrack which, combined with the psychedelic backgrounds, feels very trippy and surreal. Even collecting the Atomiks sounds great as the sound rises in pitch with every new one collected.
Atomik: RunGunJumpGun is simple to play but very hard to master. It is perfectly at home on the Nintendo Switch and excellent for quick bursts of gaming on the go. Despite the difficulty, it is an addictive game with a big fun factor that can be enjoyed by both casual and hardcore players alike.
+ Addictive and fun gameplay
+ Can map the buttons to your liking
+ Perfect to play on the go
The Not So Good
– Flashing effects may be annoying for some
Developed by: ThirtyThree Games
Published by: Good Shepherd Entertainment