Version Reviewed: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Boulder Jack is a free-to-play endless runner that mixes up the standard formula by having players view the action from in front of their character rather than behind. For fans of the Crash Bandicoot series, this isn't a particularly new trick, and the developers of Boulder Jack seem to be keenly aware of this as the game also stars a character that is remarkably similar to Crash.
Playing Boulder Jack is very, very similar to other endless runners. Players must swipe left, right, up, and down to move between lanes, leap over obstacles, or slide under others, all in the hopes of outrunning a large boulder. Along the way there are invincibility power-ups, speed boosts, and coins to collect - all of which create some risk vs. reward mechanics, but everything presented gameplay-wise is pretty standard.
Aside from the perspective shift, it's worth noting that Boulder Jack is visually striking. Although it borrows some of its aesthetics from a series borne out of the Playstation, the main character animates well and presents a surprising amount of character for someone that doesn't speak and is just infinitely running from a boulder. The environments also look quite nice and vary themselves up pretty well as players extend the lengths of their runs.
Other than the visuals though, the only thing else to say about Boulder Jack to separate it from other runners is that it seems to have a pretty easy beginning section that lets even first time players get pretty far. This is a bit of a good thing and a bad thing in that players might appreciate being able to see a few areas even on their first playthrough, but players trying to extend their runs might be bored to death having to breeze through the first area over and over again.
As a free-to-play game, players can use the coins they earn in-game to purchase one time use items like a head start or extra armor. To add a little bit of persistence they can also permanently upgrade the effectiveness of these items, but they still have to purchase them each time they want to use them. Finally, the game also offers a coin doubler ($4.99) for players that want to max out their ability to earn coins.
Overall, Boulder Jack is a fine runner that looks nice, but most players have seen this sort of thing more than a few times before. The only way it chooses to differentiate itself is by borrowing trappings from another familiar game, and even then the impacts of those changes are pretty minimal. Boulder Jack does look nice, and it's free, but it's also not particularly special.