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Temple Run: a quick review and what's to come


Published onJune 6, 2012

Almost every high-end Android smartphone released this year will feature a quad-core processor and with the announcement of project “Kai” by NVIDIA, it looks like in the tablet arena, this might be true for even low-cost devices. Along with the increasingly common availability of high-resolution HD displays and the advances in processor technology, gaming on a handheld device has become an incredibly popular activity.

We are seeing the growing trend of optimizing classic PC games for handheld devices, with made-for-mobile games also becoming more graphic-intensive, and featuring full story-lines and “campaign” modes. But sometimes, it is the simplest of concepts that becomes the biggest hit. Even though very popular console games such as Fifa 2012, the NFS (Need for Speed) series, Madden NFL 2012, etc. have impressive mobile versions, we’ve seen games like Angry Birds and Draw Something witness meteoric rises to the top of the charts.

Now, running out of the cave (get it?!) and surging ahead of the pack is Temple Run!

Following is a quick review of my experience with the game, why Temple Run is on its way to become the most popular mobile game ever, and what’s in store for Imangi Studios, the developers of this addictive game.


We already have a quick game review which describes what the game entails and the story line. The short version is, “That cursed idol looks nice, I think I’m going to steal it. Wait, is something coming towards me? Are those evil demon monkeys?! RUN!!” and that’s how the game begins, with a character that you control, running out of a cave chased by demon monkeys.

I’ll be honest, I jumped on the Temple Run bandwagon very late, only starting about 10 days back, after seeing some friends with their full attention diverted towards their phones. My first impression after watching them play was “That looks simple enough.” Boy, was I wrong!

Granted, it sounds easy. All you have to do is jump, slide, and turn left and right, while collecting coins that can later be used for power ups and meeting objectives. What makes this “never ending” game different is that every time you play it, it feels like you’re playing it for the first time. You may have just completed an amazing run and scored over 10 million points, but you might immediately on the next run, make the first turn and crash into a tree. Every “run” requires the same amount of concentration, and with the speed getting faster and faster the longer you continue, the intensity, which is high to begin with, just keeps on increasing. 10 days may not be long enough to be completely familiar with a game, but as you can see from the images, I’ve played it enough to power up completely and unlock a few characters along the way and no, I did not buy any coin packages to help.

Another advantage of my joining the Temple Run club late was that I downloaded the latest version of the game which fixed all the bugs when running it on an ICS device, which meant that I had a completely glitch-free experience while playing the game. While the game concept may be simple, the art work and visuals are quite stunning and look great on an HD screen.

Overall, I, along with 50 million other people, have had amazing experience with this game and my comparatively low score of 1.9 million means that I’m far from done. Until the next “distraction” comes along, Temple Run will be my go-to game.

Why is Temple Run so popular?

The game already enjoyed over 40 million downloads and had topped the “Top Free” and “Top Grossing” charts in the iTunes App Store, before arriving officially at the Google Play Store on March 27. The Temple Run bug had clearly caught on in the Android world as well, boasting over 1 million downloads in just 3 days, and surpassing the 10 million download mark in just over 3 weeks. Below are a few reasons why I think Temple Run has become so popular:

  • Competition: This game is very competitive. You’re competing against your friends to see you can collect the most coins, who has completed the most objectives, and who has the highest score. Apart from that, you are also just competing with yourself, trying to beat your previous high score, while trying to collect as many coins as possible to unlock the next upgrade/power-up.
  • Ease of Play: The gameplay concept is simple and all you need to do is swipe up, down, left, or right to do the corresponding actions of jump, slide and turn left and right. You also need to tilt the phone to either side depending on which the side the coins are lined up. As such, unless you are using a tablet, can easily play the game using just one hand.
  • Duration: Every “run” ranges from 20 seconds to a few minutes. That is perfect when you’re stuck waiting while picking up a friend or waiting for an youtube video to load. Of course, really high scores require a 15 – 30 minute “commitment,” which isn’t actually very long compared to the truly time-consuming nature of some other games.
  • It’s FREE!: The game did suffer a slow start while it cost $0.99 on the iTunes App Store, but immediately enjoyed huge growth in popularity when the developers made the game free and moved to in-app purchasing. In-app purchasing allows you to stock up on coins required for you to unlock power-ups, characters, and wallpapers. Character unlocks and higher upgrades do require a lot of coins, so the option to buy coins is understandable. But like I said, I managed to achieve every upgrade without needing a purchase.
  • Updates and Optimization: The developers have been very quick to address any issues and concerns consumers have had with the app. As mentioned, the latest version for the phone is optimized for play with Android 4.0. The best part is that the game is also optimized for tablets. I’ve played the game on both the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the larger screen and HD graphics provide an awesome experience.

The mobile technology and app world is continuously changing and growing, so app popularity isn’t a very long-lasting characteristic. But for now, Temple Run is one of the most popular games on the Google Play Store, and with a sequel in the works (more on that below), it may well achieve and even go beyond the success of Angry Birds.

What’s Next?

There’s great news for Temple Run fans with the developers announcing on Facebook and Twitter the release of Temple Run: Brave. If there was any doubt about how mainstream this game has become, the Disney/Pixar tie-in for the sequel should take care of that.

As the name suggests, the sequel features a tie-in to an upcoming Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios movie, “Brave.” The movie is about a young girl called Princess Merida who apart from being royalty, is also an aspiring archer. Her defiance of a tradition releases a “beastly curse” on her kingdom which is undone by her, while relying on her bravery and archery skills. (via IMDb)

The main character, Merida, is also the “runner” in the game. Keeping with the theme of the movie, Merida will be running through a forest while being chased by cursed, angry bears. From the video below, you can instantly notice that the graphics are even better the second time around, while the gameplay is exactly similar. Only this time, with Merida being an archer, you also have the ability to shoot arrows at passing targets. Like “just” running wasn’t hard enough already.

The game will be available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play Store, and Amazon App Store on June 14. You can watch a video of the upcoming Temple Run: Brave release here:

If you haven’t had the opportunity to try out Temple Run yet, I recommend you add as the first item on your to-do list. You can download it from the Google Play Store here.

What are your thoughts? How addicted are you to Temple Run? What is your highest score so far? What did you think of the “Temple Run: Brave” trailer? Are you excited about the sequel? Let us know in the comments section below.

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