Endless Runners like Subway Surfers - A great genre

One of the games I saw my nieces and nephews playing sometimes on their tablets at various family gatherings over the years was a game with a guy running on some train tracks. It seemed nice. Very polished.

So when I bought an Amazon Kids tablet recently for my son, it had that game on it, and it is called Subway Surfers.

I have to admit, it’s really fun. Yeah, it’s a mobile game, but it’s an example of one that’s a really good mobile game that’s pretty much targetted to be a good mobile game. And over the years it’s become a huge success it seems. It crossed a billion downloads on Google’s play store and won a bunch of awards in 2017, even though it’s been out since 2012.

And now my son has been finding all kinds of other games of this subgenre on his Amazon Kids tablet. I guess when something is a huge hit, it spawns a lot of copycats. Some of the copycats are interesting, others are just obvious cash-ins. Some are interesting but have really bad performance on that tablet, whereas the original Subway Surfers looks better than most of them, and runs butter smooth too.

Anyway, I’m a complete neophyte in this genre. Not only Endless Runners, which I always thought were 2D games like Super Mario Run, where the character is constantly running from left to right, but this subgenre of 3D endless runners that are like Subway Surfers. It’s a pretty cool subgenre. It feels very triple-A, and it’s really fun, and very obviously targeted to be fun on mobile, something I don’t see often.

Have you played anything in this category? What are the standouts? The terrible ones? The best ones?

Temple Run is/was the big 3D one, I thought. For 2D Canabalt was the one that kicked off the trend, though I’m sure it’s been surpassed. I was a big fan of Robot Unicorn Attack at the time, though really it’s the soundtrack that made it.

Bit.Trip Runner 1 and 2 (and later, just Runner3) are really polished examples in the 2D runner genre:

The second game is the only one that’s also on mobile (and that only iOS).

God, I’d forgotten about Robot Unicorn Attack!

Back in the day I used to enjoy Dino Run (which has had a sequel and DX remake I think).

Time Surfer by Kumobius is also great but that’s more of an endless ‘surfer’. It has a neat rewind mechanic but the way you move is brilliant.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention how Subway Surfers actually plays because I was describing how it’s not like a 2D endless runner.

Here’s the trailer.

Basically you run down one of three railway lines, and can go left and right, and jump over obstacles. You collect coins. And you’re dodging oncoming trains or running on top of the cars of the trains by using ramps that let you get to the second level. Good stuff.

My girlfriend used to love Zombie Tsunami. I’m sure I’ve played one or two of these since Canabalt, but I can’t even remember their names, so they must not have made much of an impression. There was that Race the Sun game which is in a similar vein but obviously has vastly different presentation.

I was just going to mention this. I’ve played this a lot at 37 hours. Same with Bit Trip Runner 2 mentioned above. Action Henk is more clunky than the other 2, but I still enjoyed playing that for a while.

Race The Sun is fairly popular. I got it bundled but didn’t enjoy it.

Knight Terrors is the only one I directly bought and played. It’s pretty great for $1 on sale.

The rest of these are on my wishlist.

Trainpunk Run is free on IndieGala today: https://freebies.indiegala.com/trainpunk-run

I gave Subway Surfers a try and it was neat but the ads, my god. I watched 7 ads in a row because they kept letting me to resume my run, and then when I finally decided to end my run on my own by not watching ads, they offered me an ad to earn 500 coins (my run had only earned 170 by comparison). No thanks, that’s too many ads.

No endless runner has ever topped my all time favorite, Jetpack Joyride.

There’s no ads at all on Kids’ tablets, all that stuff is disabled, so I never knew about it! Sorry Scott.

That’s a good idea, no ads. Makes sense. Yeah, I pulled it down on my iphone and they were optional but annoying since it felt silly NOT to watch an ad to keep playing, then you realized you can just do that forever it sort of takes the high score fun out of it.

Do check out Jetpack Joyride though, it’s so much fun!

Surprised no one had mentioned Alto’s Odyssey our Alto’s Adventure (?). But there was a massive wave of these things, most utterly forgettable, after Canabalt became huge

Love this game. Probably have hundreds of hours in it. It did go a little too F2P though.