Muscle Run (out now, $0.99) is a combination of two well-established genres – racing and endless runners – which makes it a huge risk for small studio Wonderwood Games. Quite often we see indie developers add their two cents to extremely popular genres and typically, they just don’t stand up to the competition. Muscle Run certainly looks like it could, but there are a few tweaks needed before it can be pit against the big guys.
As per usual, you tilt your device left or right to steer your device past various obstacles, be that oncoming traffic or roadworks. There are two modes — story mode and endless mode. The former is nothing more than a challenge list that you must tick off as you take to the road. Once you have completed all the challenges, the game pulls you over and you progress to the next track. The latter is exactly as it sounds — you drive as far as you can, dodging as much traffic and roadworks as you can. You can collect various power-ups to help your mission but sometimes they aren’t clearly explained or very distinguishable from one another.
Cash that you collect along the road can be used to buy performance upgrades, paint jobs, or buy more cars. Again, this seems like a necessity in racing games as it adds more variety to the gameplay, on top of the different highway scenarios.
If tilt-to-steer isn’t your thing, there are other control methods available. You can tap on either side of the screen to steer, use a virtual steering wheel, or just stick to tilting. I prefer using the onscreen steering wheel because I found tilting to be much too inaccurate for my liking.
In the visuals department, Muscle Run is definitely one to adore. The lighting is particularly admirable as it adds that extra sense of realism, with reflections bouncing off your car as you pass through a tunnel or traffic.
Any racer must have crash physics perfected because many of us aren’t exactly professional racers, so we’re likely to crash into a few things. Unfortunately, Muscle Run doesn’t quite live up to my expectations. If you are driving at 90+ mph and smash into traffic, the vehicle sticks to you rather than bounce off, as you’d expect. It then becomes quite irritation to shake it off, so you end up losing your awesome run due to one little mistake.
iFanzine Verdict: Muscle Run has the capabilities of standing up to the big guns in the well-established genre of racers. The graphics are definitely the standout feature of the game and the variety of tracks and upgrades are also welcomed, but it’s too bad the crash physics and slightly off steering let it down. Even so, if you’ve got a dollar to spare, you should definitely take Muscle Run for a spin. The steering problem is subjective so you may find it perfectly suited to your needs.