From Pac-Man to Mario, videogame characters have always had to run for their lives. What’s inspiring about Temple Run and other auto-running games is that your goal is not to reach the finish line– it’s to last as long as possible before death inevitably catches up to you. Imangi’s Temple Run series has been downloaded over 100 million times, and has spawned a couple of movie spin-offs. Even after enduring countless deaths, we’re still playing it constantly.
The original Temple Run was inspired by Canabalt, a simple Flash game where you have to time your character’s jumps to delay his impending doom. It’s also partly based on Raiders of the Lost Ark’s memorable opening scenes, where Indiana Jones has to outrun a rolling boulder. The combination of these two ideas resulted in one of the most popular iOS games ever, an addictive 3D auto-runner where you had to tilt and swipe your way through an ancient ruined temple. Since you’re being pursued by demonic creatures, any misstep could spell failure. As you collect coins, you’ll be able to unlock new abilities that will help you survive just a little bit longer and top your previous high score.
Key Quote: “What Temple Run gets right is that, just like Canabalt, you constantly feel like you’re running from something, not just running for the sake of it. There’s this constant pressure that if you screw up those monkey monsters will be right there to catch you. And, in fact, if you stumble over a tree root or make another minor mistake, you’ll see them start to nip at your heels. It’s pretty intense.”
Temple Run Brave
When Pixar’s Brave arrived in theaters last year, Disney Mobile and Imangi collaborated on a tie-in game starring the movie’s heroine, Merida. Instead of ghostly monkeys, in Temple Run Brave you had to try to outrun a giant, mythical bear with spears and arrows sticking out of his hide. Temple Run Brave also added a target-shooting minigame and will-o-wisp power-up, but otherwise, this is just a reskin of the original Temple Run, which you can download for free.
Key Quote: “To recap, all that’s new is a screen-tapping archery add-in, re-skinned art assets, and the background music. For Temple Run: Brave they’re charging a dollar. For the original Temple Run– a nearly identical game– they charge nothing. Unless you’re some kind of Brave mega-fan, there’s virtually no reason to buy Temple Run: Brave.”
Temple Run 2
Temple Run 2 is everything we could have hoped for in a Temple Run sequel. The gameplay is largely identical, with you tilting and swiping to help your runner survive his sprint. However, the graphics have received a major overhaul, allowing Imangi to create twisting, natural-looking environments for you to run through. You can even ride a zip line or mine cart for added momentum. Temple Run 2 is an excellent action game, and like the original, it’s a free download.
Key Quote: “We could go on and on about why Temple Run 2 is a blast to play, but you’d be better off downloading it to see for yourself. The game delivers a fantastic blend of addictive action and high-octane intensity that feels both familiar and new.”
Temple Run Oz
Like with Temple Run Brave, Disney licensed Temple Run once again to create a tie-in game for the movie Oz the Great and Powerful. Instead of running through ruins, this time you had to race on Oz’s famous Yellow Brick Road, collecting coins and power-ups in pursuit of a high score. Since it’s based on Temple Run 2, Temple Run Oz has the smooth curves and detailed backgrounds that make the environments look much more realistic. You can even briefly pilot a hot air balloon, just like the wonderful wizard. However, we see little reason to spend even a dollar on this game, since Temple Run 2 doesn’t cost anything to download.
Key Quote: “A dollar isn’t much, but when you can get nearly the same experience for free in Temple Run 2, why bother downloading the movie tie-in?”
Tomorrow, we’ll continue our 50 Best Game Series with Disney’s Where’s My Water?, starring the adorable alligator Swampy.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.