It's not the definitive edition, but it's definitely worth picking up.
13AM Games’ Runbow was one of the Wii U’s lowkey best multiplayer games. Up to nine players, either local or online, could get together and play a variety of frenetic platforming craziness. The game was also notable for its wealth of unlockable characters from other indie franchises (including Shantae) and challenging single-player mode. Over time, DLC costumes and music were added as well as a second helping of single-player content (“Sakura’s Space Adventure”). The game was eventually released physically on the New 3DS (Runbow Pocket) and Wii U, upon which all the DLC was included. Unfortunately, we don’t get Runbow Complete on Switch, instead having to settle for the vanilla version, which is somewhat disappointing. Still, for those who’ve never played it, Runbow should not be missed.
The core Runbow experience is a fast-paced platforming race to the finish line, in which you and a gaggle of friends try to off each other in hopes of being the last man standing. The brilliant wrinkle here is that platforms are often specific colors and the background color is constantly cycling. When the background is the same color as a given platform, that platform effectively disappears, so you need to be cognizant of what color is coming up before you leap to your doom while trying to avoid being beat up by your many opponents. It takes a few rounds to get the hang of it, but once it clicks, there’s really no other multiplayer experience quite like Runbow.
Various power-ups also appear frequently to mess with players as well. In addition to the obstacle course race, Runbow also includes a “King of the Hill” mode (self-descriptive) and an “Arena,” which is geared towards direct player-versus-player brawling. The Wii U version allowed nine players because one was on the GamePad (and not directly controlling a character). Here on the Switch, with no GamePad, multiplayer is limited to eight co-op combatants, which is more than enough.
If solo play is more your thing, Runbow’s Adventure Mode is the place to be: more than 100 short stages of varying difficulty will test your mettle in an effort to stop the game’s B&W baddie, Sakura. You can earn up to three medals per stage based on your completion time, and more medals generally means more unlockables. After mastering Adventure Mode, why not head over to The Bowhemoth? This insane challenge dials the difficulty up to 11. Both Adventure Mode and The Bowhemoth can be tackled with up to eight players, although I can’t recommend it if you’re looking to actually progress.
If you, like me, don’t have seven friends to share a couch, you can play Runbow online, where it performs admirably. At least on launch day and July 4th, there weren’t a lot of people playing, but hopefully that remedies itself soon. You can bring up to four local players with you, which is a nice way to fill a room. One of the things I like and dislike about Runbow online is that you can host your own game but you have to give all your friends a room code—this must be shared, essentially, via social media. It’s not a huge problem, but if nobody is look at Twitter when you want to play, you’re kind of screwed. Like so many Switch games, online multiplayer has to essentially be planned in advance. However, online multiplayer does apparently support the full compliment of nine players (which I have yet to experience).
Runbow is a fantastic, colorful, energetic platformer with great style and plenty of content for both solo and group players. At the very least, it is definitely worthy of a spot in your “great multiplayer games” folder.