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‘Temple Run: Oz’ for iOS and Android game review

The original Temple Run hit iOS back in 2011. The game was an instant success, reaching the top of charts around the world. It arrived on the Play Store last year and saw similar response from Android users as well.

It was also last year when Imangi released Temple Run: Brave, a variation of the original game made in collaboration with Disney for their movie ‘Brave’. It featured a new character and different level design but was essentially the old game in a new wrapper. But earlier this year, Imangi released Temple Run 2 that brought with it completely redesigned visuals and some new gameplay mechanics.

Now, shortly after the release of Temple Run 2, the developers have released Temple Run: Oz. Like Temple Run: Brave before it, Temple Run: Oz is based on an upcoming Disney movie, ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ and carries forward the visual and gameplay enhancements from Temple Run 2 but with new level designs keeping with the theme of the movie. Let’s see how this latest installment has turned out.

Title
Temple Run: Oz
Developer
Disney
Platform
iOS
Android
Release Date
March 2013
March 2013
Content rating
9+
Everyone
Size
45.9MB
28MB
Price
$0.99

Gameplay

Temple Run has always been an endless running game where you play as long as you can, dodging obstacles along the way and creating as high a score as possible. Things haven’t changed much in Temple Run: Oz and you are still basically doing the same things, however, there are enough changes to make the game seem fresh.

With the release of Temple Run 2, the game saw its biggest leap forward since the original, where the visuals were completely reworked. Now, instead of running in a completely straight line, the character went around a gently curving path that would occasionally dip and rise. There were also some new obstacles placed along the path, with most of the old ones being carried forward in an updated avatar.

Temple Run: Oz maintains all of these new changes but packs them in a new package. The game is based on the movie so the visuals are naturally inspired by the movie’s visual design. But instead of just tacking on a new theme and a character (which is pretty much what Temple Run: Brave was) the developers have gone a step beyond and improved some of the gameplay elements.

The biggest difference you will see between Temple Run: Oz and Temple Run 2 is that the obstacles are a lot more advanced in the former. While Temple Run 2 had static traps that you could see from a mile away, the ones in Temple Run: Oz tend to jump at you at the last second. You will discover, as you run, the ground collapsing in front of you while you’re a few feet away, trees falling ahead of you causing you to slide at the last second, pillars crumbling from the side, magic plants trying to snap at your feet as you come closer and the ground erupting, forcing you to jump. If that’s not enough, occasionally one of the flying baboons will come flying at you from the front and unless you slide in time its instantly game over.

Coupled with the new obstacles, the game also features a new hot-air balloon section that replaces the mine-car section in Temple Run 2. Unlike the mine-car section, this one is completely optional and you get to choose when you see the balloon flying in the front whether you’ll turn left and go for the balloon ride or turn right and continue normally with the game. This is just as well because the balloon section isn’t particularly interesting and nowhere near as fun as the mine-car section in Temple Run 2. You just have to tilt from side to side to collect the coins and avoid crashing into the crystals, which is ridiculously easy.

Also, for the first time, the game actually lets you change the world while you are playing. You get the Whimsical Woods world by default but you can download the Dark Forest world for free. Once enabled, the game will give you an option to go to the new world at one of the turns. You can either take that turn and go to the new world or take the other one and continue with the current one. If you choose to change the world, the new world starts loading in the background and you can see the progress at top. Once loaded, you go through a short tunnel with bright flashing lights and at the end of it you come out into the new world.

Compared to Whimsical Woods, Dark Forest is slightly different gameplay-wise. It relies heavily on traps that fall at last minute, such as pillars and arches that collapse and ground that crumbles, much more than Whimsical Woods. You also get a lot more of the branches falling down at the last moment, so you need to be more alert while running. Otherwise, however, the gameplay remains pretty much identical.

Currently, Dark Forest is the only other world available but the game menu mentions one more with a ‘Coming Soon!’ tag attached to it. It remains to be seen whether it would also be offered for free.

The game has its bunch of power-ups and abilities that have been borrowed from Temple Run 2 and can be used with the coins you collect while running. Also, you can purchase more coins using real money and in-app purchase. I personally preferred the simpler menus and fewer items of the first two games but if you prefer having the extra options introduced by Temple Run 2 then you will find them here as well.

Just like with Temple Run: Brave, you cannot change the main character in this game, as is possible in the Temple Run 1 and 2.

One thing I noticed with Temple Run: Oz, as I did with Temple Run 2, is that the game lacks the frantic pace of the original. The original Temple Run starts off pretty slow but becomes brutally fast after a certain point. This means that unless you had some really quick reflexes, it wasn’t easy to get past a certain score. This may seem infuriating to some but it was one of the things that I still love about that game and it made racking up insanely high scores and then showing them off to your friends so much more enjoyable. It gave a sense of achievement, which is just not there in the last two games. Sure, they do increase the speed after a while but it’s nowhere as fast and even if you were moderately good at the original game you’d do great in the new one. Those who were experts at the original, on the other hand, are bound to find the new one bit too easy. While it’s easy to understand why the developers would do this (to make the game more enjoyable to people of all skill sets), a Hard mode of sorts for those who prefer a bit of challenge wouldn’t go amiss.

Graphics and Sound

In terms of visuals, the game looks similar in quality as Temple Run 2, which is to say it looks quite decent. It’s not really the best looking game on the mobile platform and certainly won’t push the limits of your phone or tablet’s hardware but then that’s not really the point of the game. As it is, it moves so fast you rarely have time to sit back and marvel at the game’s visuals. The upside of it not being too visually impressive is that it runs at a silky smooth framerate, at least on the two devices I tried it on (iPad mini and Galaxy S III). The Android version has three visual settings, so you can turn it down if things start getting choppy on your device.

One of the complaints with the visuals of the game are the menus, which are atrociously bad to look at. The menu buttons, icons and the general UI show all the visual flair of something drawn by an eight year-old in an arts and crafts class. I had this same problem with the UI of the second game as well. Surprisingly, the original game, despite its age and simplicity, fares much better in this regard. You’d think that Imangi and Disney could afford to hire better designers for their UI.

In terms of sound, Temple Run: Oz is once again lackluster. The main theme music is nothing to write home about. It’s not bad as such, but you won’t remember it after you stop playing the game, like the music from the original game.

Verdict

Temple Run: Oz turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than I thought. While on the surface it might seem like just another Temple Run game, the finer changes made in this version make it stand out from the two that came before it and for me that makes it as good as the original, if not better. And considering how fantastic the original was, that is saying something. For just $0.99, Temple Run: Oz is well worth the price, even if you have played all the previous Temple Run games.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pros: Familiar gameplay peppered with interesting new bits, ability to switch to a new world is a welcome addition, well priced
Cons: Difficulty level doesn’t quite scale up as it used to in older games, unsightly UI design and lackluster audio

Download: iOS | Android

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