Who is buying all these 79p endless runners, and can they please stop? Someone is doing it.
Like Fantasy Dash, Box Dash, Ninja Dash 3D and – oh god – so many others, Temple Dash: Jungle Adventure (or Template Dash, which my phone auto-corrected, like the little joker it is) is an endless runner without achievements, variety or fun. But we chose to review it, so a little of the blame is on us too.
First, the positives, as there are a few. It feels like Temple Dash is the first of the RiceFun Games that has stopped, taken stock, and tried to improve things. Most of those things are frillery, away from the core game, but it’s appreciated nonetheless.
Temple Dash looks reasonably snazzy, for one. Rather than resort to line art and the same stock images, there’s some nice stuff here. The opening temple entrance, the backgrounds and the platforms have all had something of a high-fidelity rinse, bringing them up to a better standard than its pretty darn terrible forebears.
There’s been an accessibility boost, too. In all the previous RiceFun Games, you would have to complete the surprisingly long levels in one bite. Die, and you’re back to the start, forced to memorise the levels so that you can improve the next time. Temple Dash: Jungle Adventure is far more welcoming. Its checkpoints are invisible but they are there: you can die on any platform sequence, and the game will airlift you back to the moment before it. It’s massively generous.
Then there’s a double-jump, which is rare for these games. Before, you’d have to time your jumps impeccably, vaulting over double-blocks by jumping in the narrowest window. Double-jumps make this far less of an issue. To compensate, RiceFun have made the wise decision to stick spikes on the upper parts of the level, so poorly timed double-jumps can still cost you some progress. It’s a fair compromise, and there’s a sizable improvement to strategy as a result.
The improvements continue. Difficulty settings in the older games tended to be rehashes of the same levels, rather than completely new levels. Here, the levels are new (we think – more on that in a moment). The fifty levels are bunched into worlds of ten levels each, and you can skip to a later world without having to complete levels linearly. A lot of thought has gone into making these games that little bit more approachable.
Two steps forward, one step back. There are changes that are not for the better. There are save-game issues, much like one of the last 79p games that we played, Shadoworld: The Impossible Escape Game. On more than one occasion, Temple Dash: Jungle Adventure just didn’t bother to save our progress. We had to restart from the beginning or wade through swathes of the game that we’d waded through before. For a game as monotonous as this, that can be a killer.
And there was a curious habit where our block would snag itself on a previous platform, causing our block to enter an endless spinning movement. As fun as it is being a catherine wheel, it’s not exactly conducive to precise platforming. We tended to die soon after.
Then there’s the rub: Temple Dash: Jungle Adventure improves, but not in the areas it probably should improve in. Levels are still uncannily similar to each other. No amount of background-changing can hide the fact that levels are constructed out of blocks, spikes and, um, well, blocks and spikes. Some blocks are high, or spaced evenly apart, and some spikes go up and some go down. But that’s the breadth of what you can expect, and it’s a fraction of a percent of what Temple Dash: Jungle Adventure needed if it was going to be entertaining. Which it isn’t.
Levels go on for an inexplicably long time. Now that we have infinite checkpoints, and multiple levels that all feel the same, you kind of wonder why? RiceFun could break these down to be half the size but double the number of levels, and we’d at least have the satisfaction of completing them at pace. Here, they’re kind of interminable. And there’s no progression system or unlocks here to make that slog bearable.
And if you’re going to have a game where we die, and die often, then don’t give us a 1-2-3 counter before we respawn. It takes longer than it should to return to life, and we could quickly check emails on our phone in the time it takes. Temple Dash: Jungle Adventure isn’t exactly Fallout: we’re sure it could reload faster than that.
Until now, the RiceFun 79p endless runners felt like they were standing still. Improvements were nowhere to be seen, and we wondered when these terrible little platformers would ever stop. Credit where it’s due, then, that you can feel a sense of progression here. It’s more accessible, and prettier to boot.
But that age-old adage, ‘polishing a turd’, comes to mind. Temple Dash: Jungle Adventure may have been spruced, but it still stinks.
You can buy Temple Dash: Jungle Adventure from the Xbox Store