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RunBean Galactic Review

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There’s a game design challenge for you: how can you make an endless runner that fits everything into one screen? 

RunBean Galactic has a cunning answer. What if you put the player on the surface of a planet, and let them move around it like they were a notch on a washing machine dial? It’s an elegant answer to the problem, and it’s absolutely made for a budget indie title.

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RunBean Galactic doesn’t mess about. There’s one mode here and one level. You are an astronaut on the circumference of a circle, and you immediately start sprinting. Spikes appear on the circle, and you have to time a diminutive jump over them. Floating yellow traps get added next, and you need to press down to roly-poly beneath them. In the beginning moments of a RunBean run, you’re switching between jumping and ducking, and watching a numerical counter in the centre of the planet increase. Every second you spend on this Hellwheel ratchets up the score.

Our first reactions were positive. RunBean Galactic is responsive, and you know in your gut that failures are your fault, not the game’s. The little bean has a tiny leap, so even the smallest spike represents a challenge. You need to be on your A-game to get through even the earliest sections.

It doesn’t take long for RunBean Galactic to turn the screw. The speed increases, the frequency of obstacles does too, and extra stuff gets shuffled in. Signposts act like an Uno Reverse, sending you in the opposite direction and making your cognitive capabilities go haywire. Keys hover above you, and you need to jump and collect them if you want to pass through future locked doors. Bombs do much the same, offering the capability to blow up future walls.

Reach certain milestones and everything goes dark. There’s a day-night cycle in RunBean Galactic, working on a 50-second rota, and it’s mostly just there to doff a cap and congratulate you. They reset the board and chuck even more obstacles at you, but they’re otherwise just colour.

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And that, my friends, is RunBean Galactic. If you’re as relentlessly rubbish as us, you will die and replay, over and over, on this same treadmill. We can’t quite pinpoint why we are so bad at it. We have struggled to  reach 80 seconds and done it only once, yet we’ve unlocked the achievement for 100 deaths with ease. There’s something about those signpost obstacles that gets us every time.

Some of the supporting stuff is worth a mention. It’s a 2000G game, which will perk up a few ears on TrueAchievements. Several of its achievements are 200G chunkers, so you get the thrill of hitching up your Gamerscore simply by dying and dying plenty.

You can buy a few different skins for your RunBean, which sounds exciting but the shop runs out of stock pretty quickly. After half an hour we’d bought everything. But the winner is a global leaderboard, which has the simple pleasure of not being too populated. Crack 80 seconds, like us, and you will enjoy a top 200 placing. It was a small validation of our absolutely terrible endless-runner skills. 

But otherwise, there’s not a hugely alluring reason to keep playing. Grab all the achievements and exhaust the shop and you’re left with the leaderboards. That demands a certain kind of competitiveness (we can only imagine how the top player managed to reach 800+), and we didn’t feel the impetus. The game itself certainly isn’t going to help: this is one level, and you’ll be seeing everything it has to offer – randomised, of course – ad nauseum.

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RunBean Galactic reminds us of one of those LCD games we played as a kid, probably from Tiger or Nintendo Game and Watch. It’s astonishingly simple, displayed on a single screen, and it goads you to play with the prospect of beating scores. It’s a high-quality, top-end version of those toys, but it wouldn’t take a huge leap to imagine it releasing as one.

But that points to RunBean Galactic’s problem. RunBean Galactic feels like a toy rather than a game, something you might pick up and dabble with for a couple of minutes before putting it back down. It’s elegant but depthless. When you consider how many ways that RunBean Galactic could have filled out the experience, you wonder why it didn’t shoot for the stars, rather than making do and staying bean-sized.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Elegant little endless runner
  • Controls feel spot-on
  • Global leaderboards are motivating
Cons:
  • Feels more like a toy than a game
  • Paper-thin
  • Replaying early sections gets tiresome
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Eastasiasoft
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 29 March 2023 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Elegant little endless runner</li> <li>Controls feel spot-on</li> <li>Global leaderboards are motivating</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Feels more like a toy than a game</li> <li>Paper-thin</li> <li>Replaying early sections gets tiresome</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Eastasiasoft</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 29 March 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>RunBean Galactic Review
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