Subway Surfers is an interesting new game for the iPhone, one which follows the trend of taking the popular ‘run forever’ style of gameplay and offers it in 3D.
The actual game betrays a few things about the title, however. While it is clearly inspired by the activity known as train surfing, there are some key differences. For one, despite being titled ‘Subway Surfers,’ there do not seem to be any trains which go underground here (sure, some subways will exit tunnels and run aboveground, but this game seems devoid of any train tunnels lasting longer than a few seconds). For another, the actual sport (for lack of a better term) seems to be more akin to actual surfing as one stands atop a train; in this game, your character is always running. And finally, even while always running, as much or more of the running is done on the ground than on trains.
Perhaps this is all semantics, but given the name and theme of the game, we felt it would benefit those who are familiar with the actual activity to know where the game differs.
“The Burger King Kids’ Club doesn’t play by your ‘rules.'”
With that said, Subway Surfers is a free-to-play run-forever game which allows you to use in-game currency to purchase power-ups to help you go farther and gain a higher score. Plus, you can use actual real-life currency to purchase those coins, in case doing so on your own is too much of a bother.
The concept is pretty simple: You play as a kid (one of three, with the other two available for purchase) who is tagging a train car in a train yard with graffiti when they are caught by an inspector and his faithful pitbull. Your kid takes off, and the inspector and dog give chase as you jump, roll, and dodge left and right around trains (both moving and stationary) and obstacles throughout the trainyard. All the while, you’ll be trying to collect coins, power-ups, and bonuses to reach for a higher score.
And that’s really pretty much it. There are no other stages, though the one you run through seems to be randomly generated as you go. As a result, there’s little variety in your surroundings, but at least it’s not the same course over and over again, strictly speaking. Some of the power-ups are neat, such as a magnet which attracts coins, and you can also carry a stock of hoverboards and even get your hands on a spraypaint-powered jetpack which carries you high above the chaos, leaving you to simply worry about collecting floating coins.
Unlike the similarly-styled Aby Escape, the controls in Subway Surfers are thankfully not tilt-based, instead relying strictly on swipes of the touchscreen (left, right, up to jump, down to roll). Unfortunately, while they do work well most of the time, there are instances where the swipes don’t seem to register quickly enough, and one false move can make the difference between continuing on and starting all over.
“Uh…I didn’t do it.”
The worst instance of ‘swipe failure’ involves a neat feature of the game. In addition to a series of missions you can partake in (collect x amount of coins, y amount of sneakers), there are daily missions (such as collecting all of the letters in a word). Unfortunately, they tell you when you’ve achieved one of these during the game itself, and that stalled the game enough so that it was unable to read one of our swipes, thus leading to our being hit by a train and ending our run.
Fortunately, being hit by a high-speed multi-ton vehicle isn’t as gruesome as it might sound. The game’s graphics are colorful and cartoon, sporting a light touch of the ‘Homies‘ aesthetic. And when you’re hit by a train, you’re basically smacked into the screen (and it’s a bit funnier when you manage to take the inspector and his dog with you– not that we take pleasure in the torment of animals or humans). If you just run into an obstacle, however, the inspector and his dog simply grab you, presumably until the cops and/or your parents arrive.
As for the music, there isn’t much to say. It’s basically one track which runs while you run, and it’s not bad, though not especially memorable, either.
Overall, Subway Surfers has a few flaws, but as a free game, it’s a fun experience, particularly if you’re into the ‘run forever’ style of gaming. And if you’ve only experienced the 2D style of that genre, then this game makes a pretty good introduction to the 3D style.