Running Right: A Review Of Little Red Running Hood

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While most of America was anticipatorily lining up at Walmart for the return of the almighty Twinkie, Roger Paffrath and Eduardo Ribas (as Luckyfingers Interactive) made a video game. Their first, in fact; a runner called Little Red Running Hood.

And it’s one of the best runners you can get on iOS.

Following the success of Canabalt, the app store became a beacon for all things “runner,” and rightly so; the intuitive, one-touch gameplay eliminated the unresponsive virtual control pads that had long haunted the device. Soon, a sundry of runners had proven the iPhone a viable platform for gaming.

In an oddly similar way, Nintendo’s Wii experienced its own growing pains. Bringing motion controls into the living room was a bold move for that company, and despite a certain reticence the immediacy of the interface handily won over its audience. The iPhone found its place in gaming, too–but only when developers stopped trying to cram an entire controller onto the screen.

Finding their niches and clearing their perspective hurdles, refreshing and unique games were created with both of those systems strengths in mind. But unfortunately, it soon became apparent that few companies were able to really innovate with these control schemes.

Since the looming threat of a new console doesn’t exactly exist in the iOS space, the focus has seemingly shifted away from innovation and more towards refinement, polish, and iteration. For instance, runner games specifically began introducing more advanced mechanics (like opposite-wall jumps) while still maintaining a one-button control scheme.

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The last notable runner that introduced the aforementioned mechanics was Rayman Jungle Run by Ubisoft. While it’s fantastic that a company the size of Ubisoft is willing to bravely court the iOS market with a game that isn’t free-to-play, less than a year later comes a runner made by two people that executes on nearly every idea better than Rayman.

Little Red Running Hood brings in the aforementioned advanced mechanics, but improves them by pairing them with a more interesting level design. Your tool set consists of a jump and a double-jump, and with those you’ll need to navigate walls, chains, backwards ledges, and even mining carts. The variety of gameplay makes you forget that you’re only using a simple tap.

A splash of Tiny Wings’ “race against darkness” is also introduced. Run out of light, and the Big Bad Wolf comes to victoriously stomp on you. Luckyfinges has balanced this game extraordinarily well; the goals are modest, and the threat of that impending darkness is never prohibitively frustrating.

There is nothing new here; Little Red Running Hood shows iteration–not innovation. But with that iteration comes excellence, variety, refinement, and humor.

It’s 2013. Gamemakers for current platforms are starting to hit their stride, and for about the zillionth time, less than a handful of people made a game that takes a multi-million dollar company to school. That’s just where we’re at; we’re empowered, both as players and as creators, and it’s only going to get better.

So… enjoy your Twinkie, I guess?