Saving iPhone Princesses One Jump at a Time

Chop Chop RunnerThere is a very fine line between simplistic, easy to learn controls and boring controls. In the past, we’ve looked at simple iPhone applications that blurred that line completely. So we’re on the lookout for simple apps that are fun. Now, here’s our look at an iPhone game by the name of Chop Chop Runner.

Developed by Montreal-based developer Gamerizon, Chop Chop Runner is the latest in the Chop Chop “franchise.” Of course, we say “franchise,” because well, it’s only the second title after Chop Chop Ninja (though according to the loading screen there will be a Chop Chop Tennis). Regardless, the game is about a ninja hero called Iro who is tasked the ultimate hero’s challenge: The rescue of the inevitably kidnapped princess.

The object of the game is spelled out clear enough in the title. Players run. They run, and run, and run some more. However, the longer you run, the faster Iro’s momentum apparently builds up. Now, this wouldn’t be too much fun by itself, so along the way our shrimpy yet stalwart ninja must avoid deadly pitfalls and a horde of baddies that range from giant cobras and scorpions to equally stubby samurai.

SnakeAll the controls are done with one mechanism: Tapping. Players tap to jump and tap again to attack enemies. Also, the longer you hold your finger down, the longer and farther Iro will leap. It sounds simple, and a bit boring, but surprisingly, as fast-paced as Chop Chop Runner is, you’re quite thankful for such a basic setup.

Single button controls, cliché ninjas, and the tired concept of saving another helpless princess. This is Chop Chop Runner in a nutshell. However, the game is actually pretty fun. Just by looking at the oversimplified, cartoon-like art, coupled with randomized attacks and roundhouse kicks that even Chuck Norris would appreciate, this bilingual app is a beautiful satirization of these clichés.

In addition to the charming attacks, the game is littered with other special effects that Iro can activate, including fireworks, destructive boxes, and even kegs of explosives. Along with a night and day cycle, this is actually a wonderful game to just look at (and listen to, as well).

KerpowUnfortunately, the game is so fast-paced that taking the time to look will probably kill you. It takes a lot of getting used to before you make it any sort of distance in the game’s single level. Thankfully, if you do fall, but an enemy is on screen, you can tap them again to attack and save yourself. Still, you are going to die… a lot. But that is also sort of the point. Every time the user plays the game, the experience is slightly different – be it platforms or the placement of enemies.

The distance you travel is recorded as a score with an associated ranking of A, B, C, etc. From here, the scores are uploaded to community leaderboards powered through OpenFeint — without which the game would get old very quickly. Furthermore, considering the difficulty associated with Chop Chop Runner, high rankings actually do have a lot of meaning.

On top of the social leaderboards, the game also has your standard set of achievements for players to brag about earning. Sadly, these are also a complaint. Granted, it is nice to earn them, but they did bring to light a bit of an optimization issue. When you unlock an achievement, it tends to pop up during the middle of play, which, while it does block a small portion of the screen real estate, drops the frame rate on a regular 3G iPhone to almost nothing. Suffice to say, it will probably get you killed, which is something we didn’t need more help with.

This happens at the beginning, too. The game takes an astounding amount of time to load up. Perhaps this is because the game features changes each time you play, but when it takes this long the player becomes impatient and will likely begin thinking it crashed. Of course, it didn’t, but they will probably still try tapping the screen umpteen times, leading to the iPhone going back to its “desktop,” as it were. A mildly frustrating experience, to say the least.

Overall, though, Chop Chop Runner was a pretty fun game. It got some laughs and some reactions out of the people that played it, so that should be a plus in just about anyone’s book. Nonetheless, the game is a bit basic socially, but the additions still help the longevity and attractiveness of the title. Still, as fun as it is, the jury is still out on whether or not the application is worth $0.99 or not. Nevertheless, if you have some spare time, this is a pretty decent way to kill it… and you get to do it with ninjas.