Capsule Review: Geki Yaba Runner Anniversary Edition

(A note on versions - this Nintendo Switch game appears to be a port of the game known as Geki Yaba Runner Deluxe on Nintendo 3DS and Geki Yaba Runner on PlayStation Vita, itself a port of the ad-supported Geki Yaba Runner on Android and iOS, which appears to be a sequel to 2 Fast 4 Gnomz on Nintendo Wii and Nintendo 3DS. The gameplay seems to be similar in all versions, but this review is based on the Switch version.)

A simple but challenging auto-runner. Navigate over eighty levels requiring precise timing to avoid obstacles and collect… socks, for some reason.

The cartoony aesthetic is serviceable enough, but the sounds are slightly grating and there seems to only be one clip for most sources - the sound for deploying the parachute to glide, the rimshot that is for some reason played when clearing a level, and the babbling of the anthropomorphized treasure chest that holds the collectibles all get old fast.

As is usual for an auto-runner, gameplay involves using your abilities at the right times to grab collectibles, avoid obstacles, and reach the end of each level. You start with a jump and a glide; apparently you later get a ground-slam but I didn’t get this far. Obstacles are typical fare like spikes, pits, and walls. Any collision is an instant failure, but fortunately there are mid-level checkpoints that you get sent back to instead of having to start the entire level over.

While you don’t have to get all the collectibles to finish a level, you do have to avoid all the obstacles and survive to the end. Unfortunately, the obstacles are about as hard to avoid as the collectibles are to collect, so this doesn’t make for much of a competence zone. Just finishing each level requires a lot of precision - and maybe others won’t have this problem, but I found the game wanted me to jump slightly earlier than it looked like I should have to, which caused me a lot of frustrating deaths.

This is reasonable enough for a game that sells itself on its challenge level and fans of masocore platformers should have no problem with it but I found it unwelcoming. The many attempts required to master the pixel-precise timing outweigh the satisfaction I get from finally achieving it - especially in the absence of rhythmic elements like in the BIT.TRIP Runner games or Bubsy: Paws on Fire! which provide additional timing cues and greater opportunities for flow.

I Stopped Playing When: After thirteen levels I felt like I’d gotten the idea and seen that the game didn’t have much to offer me.

Docprof's Rating:

One Star: Not for me. While there might be someone out there who'd enjoy this game, I was actively repulsed by it or just found nothing to latch on to.

You can get it or learn more here.