Disclaimer: Thank you 13AM Games for providing us with a review code.
13AM Games is back, bringing their colorful platforming adventure to the Nintendo Switch. RUNBOW, originally released on the Wii U back in 2015 before hitting almost every other platform, is now here for the Nintendo Switch. Is this vibrant platformer worth picking up? Let’s find out in this review.
RUNBOW features an Adventure mode, offering players two different stories. The first is where the player, taking the form of Hue or Val in various colors and outfits, or a ton of additional crossover characters such as Shantae and CommanderVideo, runs through various platforming levels to beat Satura, the main antagonist. The other gives players control of Satura on her own platforming adventure. There’s another mode in the game that tasks players with escaping from the body of the Bowhemoth after being swallowed whole.
Overall, the story is not something major in RUNBOW, and each of these stories can even be played in multiplayer. The game would not be lacking without a story behind these adventurous levels, but having these cute little cutscenes set up the various levels adds charm to the experience.
Combing platforming and racing, RUNBOW is a game for up to nine players. Players race to the end of a level, aiming for the best time. The added twist is the frequently alternating colors in each level, effectively changing what platforms are useable. Players move with the control stick, jump with A or B, can punch with X or Y, and do a special dash by double-tapping the punch button.
Two specific modes in the game aren’t races, but are more focused on Player VS Player. The first is a survival mode, which just pits players against each other until only one survivor stands, and the other is a King of the Hill mode, where players must claim a designated spot for the longest amount of time. Both of these modes are only available in multiplayer. Unfortunately from my own experience with the game, I was only able to grab one other player, so I was unable to get a large party experience and therefore everything boiled down to a 1v1.
Both the Adventure and Bowhemoth modes are also playable in multiplayer format, essentially making them closer to a co-op format, though I suppose players aren’t stopped from competing to clear the level.
The main multiplayer modes feature a decent amount of items. These can be anything from speeding a player up, to flipping the camera upside-down, to even swapping player positions. All of the items are definitely perfect for a hectic game that can make for a fun party, however, in the case of playing mostly 1v1s, it’s actually preferable to play without items, as they almost always felt as if they put both players at a disadvantage.
Overall, the gameplay in RUNBOW is fun, and at harder difficulties, definitely becomes puzzling as players work between getting the best time and making sure they can actually platform.
RUNBOW has an overall rather simplistic yet stylized visual style, which is effective. All of its characters look lovely, especially with all the available customization for Hue and Val. The level design and visuals make it easy to tell which platforms are affected by the constantly changing colors. One personal problem I’ve found, which may be more with me than with the game itself, is that sometimes the differences in changing colors is not obvious enough to me, sometimes confusing me as to which platforms will be affected, though this did not happen often.
When a level is failed, the game displays small messages alongside a skull and crossbones. The various little quips upon player deaths were always entertaining, even if they felt a bit taunting on harder levels.
One thing I really liked about RUNBOW is its soundtrack, and I still find several of its songs stuck in my head. I felt the soundtrack was always nicely fitting and only ever helped me to enjoy the experience.
I believe RUNBOW is a game best played with a group of friends for some fun party action, though the Adventure and Bowhemoth modes shine best as single-player experiences. It’s a charming game that definitely requires some skill. It’s always quick and to the point, making it easy to always jump right in, no matter what mode you’re playing. While it may get a little frustrating with hard levels or crazy items, I’ve enjoyed my time with RUNBOW, and look forward to when I can play it with a larger group of friends. I give this game a 4 out of 5 stars.