It takes something special to win me over with an endless runner, but with almost every angle covered from Jetpacks to jumping over skyscrapers, who can come up with something different enough to warrant my attention? Developer Strapped To A Meteor have the answer.
Mr Dreamer is certainly up there as one of the more unique ideas in the genre. The game centres around Poncho, an everyday office worker who daydreams his life away and his sidekick and cuddly companion, Cid. Poncho doesn't think much of his mundane job, and sets about trying to get as much daydreaming in as possible, much to the dismay of their Broccoli boss.
This means running through dream-like worlds of candy and cake, collecting little sweet-like items for points. Running involves following a wavy line, up and down and round in loops. When the line tilts the player needs to flip from one side of the line to the other to stay upright.
It's this flipping mechanic that provides a unique experience which makes Mr Dreamer well worth playing. A cloud bar at the top of the screen shows the daydream's 'health' and when it gets totally depleted it's time to wake up! The bar reduces when you're running the wrong way around and part of the skill in the game involves knowing when to be on the left or the right of the track, based on which way up they are. This is the only control you have over the game, with one finger press flipping Poncho one way or the other. While it seems a little too simple on paper, it's implemented perfectly.
You're not on your own, though. Items help your progress, with candy going towards your happiness (and score) and keeping your bar high, while items marked with S give you super speed for a limited time and fill your cloud bar right back up. Bombs also litter the path and these can take a huge wedge off your cloud bar. If it's more than half way gone already a bomb can spell doom and wake Poncho from his slumber, ending the game in the process.
Game Center support ensures that an element of competition provides plenty of replay with some scores already reaching hundreds of thousands of points. While I still wish that games could provide a more integrated scoring system than having to exit to Game Center all the time, it works well and provides a constant challenge.
As it's set in a dream world, Mr Dreamer's graphics are full of bright colours, clouds and quite a lot of food. The backgrounds are wonderful, but you don't always get a chance to notice them fully unless you're watching someone else play the game. But, despite the detail, the backgrounds never get in the way of the game, with that all important line completely visible at all times. In fact, they help provide a guide by being split in to different colours and shapes either side of the line.
Those who don't already enjoy the Endless runner genre probably won't be turned by Mr Dreamer, it's still all about the score attack and staying alive for as long as possible, but anyone who's looking for a fresh approach should check the game out.
The one finger control method works perfectly within the simple yet crafty level design to provide a challenge that's easy to control but difficult to master. With bright imaginative graphics and unique gameplay Mr Dreamer plays like a dream.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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