While I can’t remember exactly when I learned about Runbow I know I always had some interest in it. 9 player racing with a unique colour changing feature just seemed to jump out at me. A few months ago it was announced eight indie characters would appear then eight more. It was also part of Nintendo’s Nindies@Home promotion during E3 allowing anyone with a Wii U to try the game out as well as get a discount once it released. At that point I was only able to play with my brother but we both had a ton of fun. Now that the full game is out and I’ve had a chance to play all the modes with multiple amounts of people (never quite able to get 9 though) let’s see if I enjoyed it after the hype I had going in.
As I mentioned Runbow a foot race which allows 9 people to play at once. This is done with 1 Gamepad, 4 Wii Remotes or Pro Controllers then the rest can use a Nunchuk or a Classic Controller plugged into one of the Wii Remotes. The works quite well and I didn’t even know you could still use the Wii Remote with a Classic Controller plugged in as including Wii games I believe this is the first time it has ever been done. Anyway racing to the finish isn’t as simple as getting from Point A to Point B. Most platforms have a different colour and if those match the background colour, which changes every 3 seconds or so, they are now invisible and unusable so you’ll fall through if you’re on it or try to land. The background isn’t the only thing that removes them however. Some stages have waterfalls that are different colours or lights moving around. Sometimes the background is just different colours constantly moving (I think this only happens in Adventure mode). While this might sound daunting most stages only last a minute (often less) and if everyone dies it skips to the next one. The winner is whoever touches the trophy at the end first the most times.
This is Runbow’s basic mechanics. You’ll probably spend the most time here and gaming skill really doesn’t matter. My sister played with me at different points and she still had a blast despite Animal Crossing and Mario Kart being the only games she plays. I also played online with fellow Blazekick member Noah and one of his friends and the connection was flawless. Never once did it lag (which would be a huge problem for a game like this) or any disconnects. Each Wii U console can bring 4 players in so if you’d like a combination of local and online it works great! You also get a room code so you can bring people in that aren’t your Wii U friend which is great for streamers. I mentioned earlier Runbow has more modes. I’ll go over these briefly now.
First there are two similar modes so I’ll get them out of the way. There’s the standard race to the finish which is basically the basic mechanics as well as power-ups. These include things like making you run faster, kill with your attack, switch places with another player and more. The second is “Defeat the Colourmaster” which is basically the same except the player on the gamepad (only mode which requires a specific controller) is now against the runners. He can do things like set bombs, a splash of colour to make platforms unusable, a dummy character to beat up the others and use some power ups that make life harder for players (like making the screen black and white). Depending on who the master is this mode can either be really fun or annoying with them just spamming everything to kill you.
Next mode is called: “Arena” which puts everyone in a small arena with the goal of fighting it out to be last one standing. Again this can be quite fun as some maps have platforms of different colours as well.
“King of the Hill” is similar to Arena but you are trying to stand in a glowing area for a set period of time. If more than one person is in it neither countdown will start requiring you to beat each other up.
The final mode is Adventure which has a ton of short little missions. Some are quick and simple while others can really challenge you.
All these modes can be played in multiplayer and only Adventure mode supports solo play.
Normally this is one of the hardest sections for me to write but a lot of Runbow’s content fits under graphics. First of all the graphic style, which is based off 1960’s movie posters, just has this charm that really seems to fit and I’d argue, actually adds an enjoyment factor to the game in general. The colours are all vibrant although sometimes when they use multiple shades of blue for a waterfall there are two that I find quite close. I didn’t have any problem telling the difference but some might. If you are colourblind I think the extent will depend on your enjoyment. In most modes you can chose from some presets on which 4 colours will appear but that’s it for colour-blind assist. I’d look into it if you’re colourblind.
The game also has a lot of costumes and guest characters to pick from. I’m mentioning here as I’d consider it mostly cosmetic. There are sound differences such as taunts or Unity-chan saying “Jumpo” or “Starto!” among other Japanese phrases but no one runs faster or jumps higher. These include tons of indie characters such as the previously mentioned mascot for Unity in Japan, Unity-chan, Shovel Knight, XeoDrifer, a Clone, Commander Video and more. If you don’t want to play as the guests (which you’ll have to unlock anyway) the default characters Hue and Val have tons of costumes you can unlock so you’ll probably find something you’ll like to keep things fresh. I’m honestly surprised with these guests and the amount of promotion Nintendo’s given the game Mario isn’t here but maybe 13AM Games wanted to keep it indie.
The music is all very good too. You can chose which song plays each round which is always a good idea. Each character’s taunt also generally makes a sound effect when the jump which is cool. Normally I’m able to go on more about sound but this game it’s kind of hard. I guess I like how Unity-chan speaks Japanese during the game (she sounds like her official voice so props for getting her actor or someone who sounds very close to her!).