Developer: Trouble Impact
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Like its spunky eponymous heroine, Amelia vs. the Marathon has something to prove. Specifically, it wants to give the increasingly stagnant infinite runner formula a much-needed creative boost. As a result, it goes in a lot of different directions, but sometimes they aren’t the right ones.

When the reigning marathon champion’s title is threatened by the upstart, young runner Amelia, the vengeful Evil Queen wannabe will do everything in her power to keep the little sprinter from crossing the finish line. It’s a cute premise that’s solid enough to justify Amelia vs. the Marathon’s main gameplay split. The first section of each level is a fairly standard infinite runner while the second section is a turn-based strategy/infinite runner hybrid battle against a boss henchman. It’s a really novel idea and transplanting the rhythmic memorization aspect of the genre into a combat context makes it feel almost fresh again.

Unfortunately, both sections suffer from slightly sluggish controls and poorly explained mechanics. Amelia has a lot of attacks and dodges at her disposal but players will die many times just trying to figure out how they all work. Hopping over an oncoming enemy may feel good but scooting backwards to avoid attacks from above is just awkward and frustrating. However, the game’s short length suggests that it is meant to be replayed in pursuit of high scores and best times.

It’s also pretty hard to not be won over by Amelia vs. the Marathon’s infectious spirit. Everyone is a big-headed cartoon character that might as well be from “Jimmy Neutron” or some other cg Nickelodeon show. Even better are the hand-scribbled cutscenes that occasionally pop up in-between missions. Tying it all together is a score that’s “cool” in a very “year 2000” sense of the word. That’s a good thing.

Amelia vs. the Marathon comes out of the gate with some ambitious new ideas but stumbles a bit over their execution. However, eventually it gets going and becomes a race worth seeing through until the end.

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