Stratum Games are a relatively unknown indie game collective based in Toronto. They are also the sole proprietors of their newest indie sensation, Retro Runner. This game is about as nostalgic as it gets. You play as a princess who’s essentially searching for her prince (a backwards Mario or Zelda if you will). It does this in a very inventive and mesmerizing way by changing the appearance of the gameplay from 8-bit to 16-bit and beyond. Back and forth you are flung between different gameplay perspectives. This causes not only new ways of approaching the gameplay, but also a bit of reminiscing of games long past. I found myself smiling at several points in the game where I remembered games like Prince of Persia, Super Mario, or Metroid as I played through the levels that were visual callbacks to them.
Another thing that is great about this game is that the level selection screen from the days of old is back. A glorious addition for anyone who loved a level and wanted to go back for seconds. I found myself doing exactly that in many instances and I was not disappointed by the variety that the levels still gave me after beating them. Speaking of the levels, each one also ends with a classic boss fight that is both challenging and intriguing. There were multiple times during my playthrough where I was met with a boss that I had to try and beat at least six times. Nothing like a great challenge in a retro game, especially with most retro-esque games being quick platformers that give little to no reward for your diligence. In Retro Runner, you get coins that can be used for power-ups and such, which turns it quickly into a more fulfilling experience. Another great part of the game is a trivia system that asks you questions about classic games every time you die in order for you to earn more coins. After finally finishing the game, I wanted to go back and play some of my favorite levels because of how much fun they were (if not also because I wanted to reach max level).
I can’t recommend this game enough. It is exactly what indie games should be doing at the moment, which is calling back the golden era of video games. Like I said, this game does that with a smile on its face and a shuriken in its hand. You owe it to yourself to check this game out.
You can play the web build at: http://stratumgames.com/retrorunner
You can also get it on your Android/Apple device at: http://retrorunnergame.com/