zombie dogs

Who: Devel­oped and Pub­lished by Imangi Studios, LLC

What: Grab and run reactionary game

Where: The outskirts of a temple surrounded by swamp and jungle

When: NOW! FREE on iTunes (iPhone, Touch, and iPad)

Why: Mobile gaming isn’t all casual as this will get your heart pumping

What are your favorite parts of any Indiana Jones, Laura Croft, and Uncharted movie or video game? Think long and hard because you are being tested. It’s the near death experiences they go through when concurring brutal traps! It’s overcoming danger by thinking on your feet, and keeping your head on a swivel! Temple Run does that and only that, by cutting out all the travel, and plot, and character development, and ass shots… leaving you with raw adrenaline pumping action.


Temple Run Title Screen

Your mission, which you have already accepted, and complete with the press of a button, is to steal an idol from a temple, deep within a swampy jungle inhabited by bone headed monkey-like things. Now that you have the idol, your only objective is to get out alive, but WAIT! Hold up! … … ok, there we go. My 3GS has a bit of a hard time getting the camera spun around, while it’s trying to log me into Game Center, but after the initial load up things run fine. A text message will kill me from time to time, literally, well in game literally, not me personally, I must clarify.

The draw of Temple Run are the gestures, and how quickly you can react to your environment. The number of gestures in Temple Run require some finger dexterity and if limited to one hand make sure you have an easy to grip case. You wouldn’t want to shatter your phone on the floor or drop it in the toilet. Nearly every gesture I can think of on the iPhone is utilized, minus the “pinch” as far as i know.


Sliding under fire trap.
A downward swipe allows you to slide under traps.

Gesture List:

  • Swipe up: This will make you jump, letting you jump over gaps in the path, or reach a path above you.
  • Swipe down: Down makes you slide, quite a ways actually.The swampy jungle must make the path quite slick. “Temple slippery when wet.”
  • Swipe Left and Right: This seems like a simple one. You swipe in the direction you want to turn so you don’t run off the path. The tough part is they often place turns right after jumps. This means you have to jump a little early so you can land in time to switch direction.
  • Tilt Left and Right: Tilting is one of the most important gestures in the game. It lets you strafe from side to side to pick up coins that are used to purchase things from the store. You will also need to tilt the phone to run along the edge of damage paths. Also, some paths are super narrow and don’t have edges, so you will have to be careful how far you tilt your phone when going for that attractive line of 25 shiny coins.
  • Finally the Double Tap: As far as I know, this is the final gesture. It is used to activate your wings, which imbue you with resurrection for a limited time.

All of these gestures are great for immersion, but I think they missed a great opportunity for force feedback. Running into a tree, or falling to your death could be made so much better with a quick vibration. Even landing after jumps, or possibly collecting coins or powerups could warrant a small jolt of the device.

Collecting coins in Temple Run.

The game isn’t too difficult if living is all you focus on, but you will also want coins for unlocking powerups, utilities, and extras. Here’s where a bit of strategy, a bit of risk vs reward comes in. Strafing over to collect some coins while you go around a corner, then switching sides around the turn, and having to quickly jump or duck to avoid death is tough. I recommend running through a few times without worrying about collecting too many coins, because as you progress you run faster, adventurers have reverse affects from exhaustion, and there are a lot of things going on at once. This speed progression makes perfect sense for game design. Things move faster, and require quicker, and more varied gestures. As far as lore is concerned I guess the guy just goes for a casual jog, before he realizes he’s being chased by face eating zombie dogs, or the coins themselves amp him up.



Temple run powerup list.

Powerups are as follows:

  • Mega Coin – Grabbing one of these will instantly give you a lump sum of coins, sum increases with level.
  • Coin Magnet – Draws coins to you so you don’t have to tilt and jump to grab them. Did Sonic the Hedgehog have one of these? I swear he did. Duration of magnetic field increases with level.
  • Invisibility – The name of this confuses me a bit, or I don’t know all it’s benefits, but it seems to just create a magic bridge over gaps and allow you to run through obstacles. Again, duration increase with level.
  • Boost – This powerup scared me for a while. I wondered why I’d want to run super fast, which would essentially ramp up the difficulty level. Well, not only does it speed you up, but it makes you invincible. You will auto jump, turn, and slide your way through obstacles. All you have to worry about during this time is grabbing coins, but be careful, because it’s easy to get comfortable and die when it runs out. This can also be lengthened with levels.
  • Value Coins – As your progress, coins are worth more than just 1. I think this brings bonus coins closer to the start line, so you don’t have to run as far to find them.


  • Resurrection Wings – These will save your ass if you die, but they don’t last forever, so try to use them when things get tough, or if you’re really cool, right before you die. These also slow you back to starting speed, so it can make traversing the traps that come up later in the run a bit easier to manage.
  • Boost – Gives you boost for the first 1000m of the race.
  • Mega Boost – Gives you boost for the first 2500m of the race.


  • Guy Dangerous – This is your starting character. His animation, and grunt sound reminds me of Jake from Hunter Hunted. Jake – Hunter Hunted
  • Scarlett Fox – Looks like she may be Jake’s sister.
  • Barry Bones – Some tough cop.
  • Karma Lee – Has fast legs. I don’t know if she actually runs faster in the game.
  • Montana Smith – aka Indiana Jones
  • Francisco Montoya – A conquistador out for all native’s valuables
  • Zack Wonder – Football star out in the jungle, for some reason.

Wallpapers: These are downloadable wallpapers for your actual phone. This is a neat idea.

  • Temple Wall
  • Guy Dangerous
  • Evil Demon Monkeys – Seen at the top.

Also, if you’re one of those instant gratification types, you can purchase coins for real money. You gotta love people’s willingness to buy digital currency or items in a game.

Temple Run leaderboard
Something isn't right.



I’m pretty sure, like many games, the leaderboards are bunk. Unless there is an arbitrary score ceiling and many people that are amazing at the game. I can’t imagine scoring that many points in this game. I have been using a couple strategies that work pretty well though my best run is still only 6,000 meters. I have been using my first Resurrection Wing at about 2,500, and if I survive long enough I try to die when it is about to ware off. This not only allows me to keep running, but it also slows my pace greatly, making things a bit easier. I have also been swiping left or right on straightaways so I run into the wall and this also slows me down a bit, but you have to be careful because if you stumble or hit the wall again right afterwards the zombie dogs will eat you up.



Quantitative Review:

  • Gameplay: 8.9 – The gameplay is pretty simple and repetitive, but it’s use of so many touch screen gestures that translate well into the game make it quite fun.
  • Visual: 8.2 – The 3d graphics look good, but I’m not a huge fan of the swamp color, and some of the portraits look a bit funky.
  • Sound: 7.7 –  It’s hard for me to pin-point my issue with the sound, but I don’t love it. It’s kinda cheesy, almost retro, but I suppose that fits this game pretty well. The falling or colliding sounds are always amusing.
  • Presentation: 8.6 – My 3GS has some trouble getting this going, and any notification can bog it down. I have to close a lot of my background programs for this game to run well. Once things get going, I enjoy the UI, and find everything easy to access and understand.
  • Focus: 9.7 – Temple Run will demand all your attention to play well. The gestures are responsive and support your heightened level of adrenaline.
  • Overall: 8.6 – This 3d action adventure is definitely worth checking out. It’s more entertaining than JUST something to tide you over for a few minutes.


Temple Run is a great example of a game that uses the strength of the platform to create a unique, and engaging experience that may otherwise not be expected on a handheld device.

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