You can now take one of the Wii U's best games everywhere you go, but at what cost exactly?
Runbow is one of the best Wii U eShop games period. With multiplayer for up to nine people and quite an enjoyable single-player campaign, it made me smile from ear to ear. All my local friends loved the game and it became one of our most played games for well over a year. Naturally, I was quite excited to see this game come to New Nintendo 3DS system as it seemed like an exclusive worth owning the system for. What does this Pocket edition of Runbow bring to the table exactly? Well, just enough.
If you’ve never heard of Runbow, allow me to give you a quick refresher. The game is a 2D sidescrolling run and destroy ordeal with your main objective to simply get to the end. While it does sound plain, Runbow ensures at every step that it’s anything but. While running and punching may get you ahead, the timing of your movement is very important. The background color constantly changes making platforms appear and disappear at will. You can feel safe at one point, but be completely stunned at another. Runbow keeps you on your feet and wants you to stay sharp at all times.
Runbow plays quite well on the New Nintendo 3DS. While the visuals take an obvious dip in comparison to the original, the frame rate is surprisingly consistent even though it slowed slightly in my limited online experience. Despite the lower resolution and some frame rate hiccups, Runbow still looks nice on the 3DS screens. One visual improvement of being on the 3DS is that it allows information to be moved to the bottom screen. The controls are perfectly suited for the handheld with movement being controlled with the Circle Pad and two buttons used for jumping and attacking.
Runbow has a very robust single player campaign. There are 145 single-player missions to overcome with the rather punishing Bowhemoth Mode on top of that. Fans of Runbow with fond memories of its multiplayer mode are unfortunately going to be left disappointed. Runbow Pocket only offers online multiplayer which is a problem because the game is best played in a room full of friends screaming at one another. The lack of a local multiplayer is a missed opportunity to keep some of the magic from the Wii U version. The weakness of the online requirement for multiplayer is obvious in that I only have been able to have two online matches in total so far. This makes collecting the various costumes and characters less fun, considering not many will see it. 13AM Games has made all of the downloadable content available to purchase, but outside of an additional single-player campaign, I can't really recommend it here.
In the grand scheme of things, Runbow Pocket isn't bad. The available single-player content is quite nice and it offers something substantial for on the go. The disappointing change to multiplayer will be hard for many to look past. Where this brought the Wii U version to new heights, it feels here like an afterthought. It is hugely disappointing to see it locked behind an online section that will get barely used. Waiting hours for players to come online isn't exactly my idea of fun.