The protagonists of endless running games typically charge blindly, like a bull that’s received a shock to the butt. Even though it’s the player’s job to make sure the character jumps, ducks, and slides away from danger, it can be frustrating to witness such a mindless display. “Good Lord,” you bark, “Just stop and think for a second instead of running into that meat grinder!” Is there such a thing as an endless runner hero who can stop and smell the roses, even for a heartbeat?
There is. Manuganu is an endless running/platforming game that allows you to pause for as long as you need to scope out dangerous territory before moving on again. This simple option to apply the brakes adds a neat twist to a genre that makes the wildebeests from The Lion King look calm and rational. However, the overall experience is still a bit repetitive and occasionally confusing.
The titular Manuganu is a little native boy outfitted with stereotypical bones and war paint (a design choice the game could frankly do without). Manuganu runs through forests, across glaciers, and through the dead of night to collect blue stones, tokens, and other goodies. If he manages to do a good job on his run and avoid each level’s many death traps, he’s awarded up to three stars and is allowed to move on.
When things get a little too heavy, you can make use of Manuganu’s stop button. In fact, doing so is essential if you hope to safely navigate around the swinging mallets, boulders, and scythes that are everywhere in the game. Manuganu can also stop when he’s climbing ropes that are patrolled by monsters. Spamming the stop button is inadvisable, however, since you’re often required to finish a stage in a timely manner in order to earn a star.
Manuganu’s option to stop is great, and you’re going to need it since the game’s difficulty skyrockets quickly. Thankfully, stopping doesn’t break the flow of a run, so playing Manuganu grants the usual (and slightly intense) satisfaction that comes with playing a decent endless runner.
That said, it gradually becomes apparent that while Manuganu can hold its own, it’s still no Rayman Jungle Run. The stage layouts vary little regardless of where you’re running (jump, slide, stop, run, decide between the low or high road, lather, rinse, repeat), and the game’s graphics utilize a 3D effect that sometimes gets confusing. You’ll often spot ropes and ledges that you think are accessible, but are actually just decoration. Mistimed—and deadly—jumps occur as a consequence.
Manuganu may not be the App Store’s best endless runner, but it’s an enjoyable play, and the inclusion of the stop button forces you to approach the game while wielding a different idea of what “endless runner” actually means. Run fast, child—but stop and think when it looks like you’re about to get creamed by a swinging rock.