App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Okay, let’s all get our licks in now so we can get it over and done with and move on. Robot Unicorn Attack. Yes. Okay. I get it. But running unicorns and floating topography is where the similarities end. At first glance it might not look all that different, but Unicorn Rush is quite different indeed.
Unicorn Rush offers two modes of play: Endless (what we’re all used to), and a series of levels with distinct layouts, beginnings, and endings that can be learned and mastered. The core gameplay remains the same, but each offers a slightly different experience. That gameplay involves jumping, double-jumping, and even triple-jumping in order to clear obstacles and grab floating coins/stars. Sometimes the occasion will also call for some reflexive blasting of crystals in order to continue. A set number of stars appear in set locations in each level, and the number grabbed is directly proportional to that level’s ranking. Meanwhile, any coins attainted can be used in the shop to purchase upgrades, new unicorns, and more.
Splitting gameplay into two modes was a clever decision. Playing through a few levels is a good way to leisurely acclimate to the various mechanics and reflex requirements (plus there’s ranks!), while the endless mode puts it all to the test. Both options are fairly meaty, too, and there are plenty of levels to master if a high score isn’t enough. The smaller additions also help to set Unicorn Rush apart from its contemporary, so while the lack of robots is disappointing the use of hidden caves and unicorn upgrades (among other features) is more than welcome. Plus it’s just fun in that hard to put down way many runners are accustomed to.
The biggest problem I’ve encountered, aside from not enough robot, is the wonky shooting. This is an essential skill for blasting through crystals, but it seems to miss far too often (typically resulting in a collision) simply because I tapped on the lower right part of the screen instead of the upper right. In other words, half the time my shots were nowhere near the mark, even though aiming is largely automatic. Why the projectiles align loosely to the portion of the screen tapped when it’s touted as more of a fire-and-forget mechanic is beyond me. It can be accounted for by tapping towards the top most of the time, but it’s a “feature” that doesn’t seem to have a purpose.
Familiar aesthetics aside, Unicorn Rush is more than capable of standing on its own as a fun and interesting runner. Endless or otherwise. It’s addicting, open, and at the same time structured. It also offers a decent amount of character progression. It ticks a lot of boxes on a lot of different checklists, and is bound to appeal to players with a number of different preferences.