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Runbow Review: Run 4 Ya Life

/ Aug 2nd, 2018 No Comments

Runbow Review

Platforming is one of the purest video game genres. It roes on strong level design, achievable yet difficult challenges, and some of the tightest controls in gaming. What often gets lost is the need for innovation.

Runbow certainly innovates upon the core platformer genre merely by defying classification in many ways. The unique platforming twist it introduces opens up a ton of exciting challenges. Its wealth of modes, unlockables and multiplayer goodness means there is a lot to dig into.

Colors, Colors, Colors…

Runbow can be hard to classify. It is a technical platformer, a bit of a puzzler, partly a rhythm game, and also a party game. In ways, it defies classification, which is what makes it so fascinating. Runbow is a lot of things at once, but what it mostly ends up being is fun.

The challenge of many multiplayer party games is figuring out how to create a meaningful solo experience. How do you practice or get the proper feel of the game before you’re ready to hop online or in between waiting for friends to come over? What about the core gameplay and the X factor of the multiplayer mode translates to playing alone?

Runbow’s single-player mode deftly translates its unique multiplayer experience into a number of exciting, difficult and surprisingly solo modes: Adventure and the Bowhemoth.

Runbow Review

The Bowhemoth is a dangerous beast.

Adventure mode has some slight story elements where you’re working toward stopping Satsura. Across four environments, you’ll take on a variety of challenges of varying difficulty to show your mastery and get one step closer to her.

But the Bowhemoth is the fun one. It is a gauntlet of extremely challenging levels one after another. There is no saving you — either finish the Bowhemoth or start again. Both modes offer a lot of fun challenges to tackle.

The core gameplay blends technical platforming with a truly unique mechanic: color switching. Color switching in Runbow basically means every few seconds or so the background color changes. Depending on the level or mode, this could happen a few times or a ton. As the background colors change, elements of an alternate color are revealed.

Runbow Review

King of the Hill tests your platforming skills and your cunning.

These are all level specific and can range from a new platform and blocked paths to lasers and many other obstacles. Like the background colors themselves, these objects are only a viable option for a small time interval and as the background changes, you may not be able to use them.

So not only are you asked to use precision in your platforming, but you have to think ahead and understand how a level changes as the background colors change. The color element is what makes Runbow such a hard game to classify. You’re keeping a rhythm with the background color changes, problem solving as elements appear and disappear like a puzzler and trying your damnedest not to fall into a pit or some spikes and die.

The one drawback to Runbow being a technical and precision platform is the controls can feel a bit loose. Every character can double jump, perform two melee attacks and pull off an uppercut. The double jump can be a bit finnicky and you may miss what seems like an easy gap because you didn’t time the jump right. Like in Smash Bros., performing an upper cut gives you extra height and acts as both a melee attack and a third jump. Most of the tougher gaps to clear in conjunction with appearing or disappearing items result by forgetting to use that uppercut.

Runbow Review

Oh how you taunt us so deliciously, Runbow!

Runbow has a learning curve, but once you learn it, you have all the skills to be successful both in multiplayer and single-player, even though multiplayer is a bit more about how good your opponents are.

If you’re not successful, it is because you aren’t good enough — something the game over screen cheekily reminds you of every time you die. The game over screens and success screens add a lot of personality to the game. They’re great, and you should die a lot to experience all of them. But don’t worry, you’ll die a lot so you’ll see a good amount of them.

Multiplayer has a good variety of modes to choose from that change up the core gameplay in fun ways. It isn’t all just competitive platforming. You can fight to be king of the hill or duke it out in the arena. Local multiplayer is fun if you have the friends and controls to play, but most people are likely going to try out the online multiplayer.

Online multiplayer plays well with no real lag or connection issues. Where it suffers is a small player base trying to play online. Connecting to a game can be a bit hit or miss. However, when you connect to a room, it runs well with a fun shuffle between events.

Runbow Review

The multiplayer mayhem can amp up the fun tremendously.

One big thing Runbow promises in terms of multiplayer is the ability to play with up to nine players. If you’re looking for chaotic party fun, Runbow has you covered. With two or three players, Runbow can be a doozy, but every player added after that only ups the madness quotient.

A major change for the Switch edition was ensuring players constantly unlocked new characters or costumes by achieving goals in game. Runbow is a lot more exciting when you’re constantly unlocking special guest characters or new costumes for Hue and Val. It helps keep you invested in exploring new modes and rewards you for doing feats in single-player. Plus, the art design victory placards for guest characters look great.

One drawback to the game being ported to Switch and PlayStation 4 is that it lacks all the DLC previously released. If you want the additional story mode content or extra costumes, you have to purchase them separately. Be aware this is not the complete Runbow, but what is included is good.


Runbow is a terrifically fun game with a great art style and unique gameplay mechanics. It is great whether looking to test your platforming skills alone or play against friends or strangers. If you’re looking for a platformer-meets-rhythm-game-meets-puzzler-meets-competitive-multiplayer game, Runbow has you covered.

Runbow was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs

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Gaming Illustrated RATING



Runbow is a unique platformer with one of the coolest mechanics in a while. The shifts of color help push the technical precision of the platforming to the limit.


Runbow has an incredible art design and uses color to extraordinary means.


Runbow's fun score helps keep the rhythm when timing out color shifts.


Runbow has a ton of modes to choose from between its multiplayer and single-player. The only drawback to multiplayer is hit or miss online player base.

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