Coming from the studio that gave the world both Guitar Hero and Rock Band, it’s only natural to have high expectations for Record Run. These two games spawned countless sequels and soulless clones until the market imploded pretty much over night. Luckily Harmonix managed to survive unscathed. Well, maybe luck had little to do with – when it comes to music games, be it either generative or eidetic, Harmonix are as skilled as they come.
It’s clear from the outset that Record Run’s production values cannot compare to Harmonix’s precious works – this was likely to have been made with a tenth the budget, and with a far smaller team. Presentation does feature some similarities though, including over (and under) proportioned punk rocker protagonists.
A short intro gets things rolling – the spiky-haired hero that you start with leaves a music store clutching a box of records, only for them to be sent soaring by a passing truck. It’s then time to get them back, swiping the screen to avoid obstacles as you go.
Controls are intuitive, allowing you to jump over and slide under objects with relative ease. We did however experience a few performance issues with our humble iPhone 4, such as a juddering frame-rate that proved to be a minor hindrance. The fact that you’re invulnerable for a good five seconds or so after a collision thankfully kept frustration low, almost giving the game a somewhat ‘casual’ feel to it.
The amount of obstacles in your path is remarkably high, from sleeping dogs to removal men cackhandily transporting sofas. The backdrops do suffer from repetition though, playing on a loop like something out of an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Imagining that nameless rockers are running around a street block makes this slightly less of an issue, but still, we would have liked to have seen a few different locations. At least the ‘Groove’ power-up – obtained by chaining combos – does alter the colour scheme, coating the cartoon-like streets with an even brighter colour palette.
Record Run’s biggest draw by far is that levels are generated using music from your iTunes library. The aim is to get the highest score you can before the track ends, and like in Guitar Hero your performance is then rated out of five stars. This is where things get a little confusing. Because it’s possible to move across the pavement from left to right, you’re often given the chance to either collect a long string of records or leap out of the way of obstacles.
For most part, obstacles can be avoided altogether and it’s far too tempting to do so. This won’t bag you a high score however, and it took us a while to realise that the aim isn’t so much to collect records but also to leap over every obstacle even if they’re in path or not. This something didn’t sit well with our gamer instincts at first, causing us to gain highly unimpressive scores to begin with.
Soon though Record Run revealed itself to feature a lot of qualities that made Guitar Hero a hit in the first place. Nailing a perfect string of jumps and slides is just as satisfying as performing a track on Guitar Hero without missing a single bar.
We aren’t about to declare Record Run a spiritual successor, but there are some very welcome elements present here. Untangle your earphones and prepare to tap your feet and fingers in union to the beat. Your musical taste depending, there.
iTunes App Store: Free