Breaking the Minimum
It's always the same story with endless running games: you control a character, guiding him, her, or it through and environment that is laden with obstacles, items, and enemies in order to accrue a decent score that is ultimately based on the distance you've travelled. If you're lucky, you get to collect a few items along the way - though this usually consists of relatively small amounts of the in-game currency which leaves you hankering for more, and the only way to attain it quickly is to purchase it with real money - as well as treat yourself to a few upgrades (the carrot in the carrot and stick metaphor) to spice things up a bit. No one can truly say that Super Monkey Run doesn't fit this criteria with an almost uncanny snugness, because it's just like any other endless running game, but to the pleasure of all mobile gamers out there, it actually does dish out an experience that goes a little beyond the minimum requirements of the genre.
Run. Forest Run
Before anyone gets too excited about the game being something revolutionary, one shouldn't be silly enough to presume that the game is anything near that magnitude of originality; it's really just a standard endless runner with a few twists along the way. The standard parts consist of choosing a character, running through a linear track littered with obstacles and collectable items, and the total distance travelled being recorded when you end the run, which happens when you smash into an object with no lives left, or the large ghost-like monster that initiates the chase finally catches up with you. Anyone even remotely familiar with the genre will know that this isn't anything that hasn't been done by other endless-running games such as Temple Run.
Where Super Monkey Run goes beyond the standards of the genre is firstly through the movement mechanics, which, unlike in fellow monkey-based game Banana Kong (which is predominantly tap-controlled), puts the movement controls at the mercy of your mobile device's accelerometer, facilitating the tilt-to-strafe controls that make this game more unique than a fair few games out there that fit into this genre. As well as simple accelerometer-controlled movement you can also jump by tapping the right-hand side of the screen and perform a spinning attack by tapping the screen on the left. You'll need to master your timing of both jumping and attacking as you will be encountering frequent obstacles that require you leap over them as well as enemies that can either be jumped on or destroyed with your spin attack.
Collect and Progress
In order to make the game a little more interesting and inject a bit of replay value to an otherwise repetitive concept, you are asked to collect coins, bananas, and stars along the way, all of which contribute to your ability to purchase different items and upgrades that in turn boost your in-game progress. While this may sound a little bit like Donkey Kong Country, the goal here is to spend your money on upgrades instead of simply collecting bananas for extra lives and nothing more. In the game's store you can purchase extra characters, magnets that attract items around you, invincibility/double jump-lengthening stars, hang gliders, and banana multipliers.
While some may find these upgrades a great incentive for pursuing the game however, it cannot be ignored that the upgrade system is rather one-dimensional, as is the store that offers them. Instead of a fun and well-presented upgrade-tree system that puts upgrades into categories and allows a progressive system of upgrading (see FDG Entertainment's Banana Kong), Super Monkey Run lumps all upgrades, including new characters, bananas, stars, and everything else, into one big pile that you must scroll through using left/right arrows. Both the layout of this system as well as the relatively meagre selection and uninventive nature of the upgrades instantly dulls the excitement of the upgrade process. The price of the upgrades is also frustratingly high, which is really just FDG Entertainment's tactic to make you part with your own money in order to purchase in-game currency.
Breaking the Platform Barrier
Such negativity thankfully doesn't extend to the graphics and design of this game. The graphics are plush and highly colourful and make the game rather nice to look at. The game is also a three-dimensional affair that has you moving from side to side as well as up and down through a reasonably well-rendered 3D world that frequently moves from third-person rear-view 3D to a sort of two-dimensional side-view format and then back again. It is little nuances like these that make the game a little more memorable than the average endless running title. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the ability to download a version for your computer and utilise your mobile device as a control pad. These features manage push the money-grabbing upgrade system and lack of originality in concept to the back of your mind, resulting in a game that isn't revolutionary enough to challenge some of the other but still a little better than the average endless runner.