Temple Run Hauls Ass like a Modern-Day Pitfall

When you think back to Pitfall, the lead character in the classic Activision game didn't seem like he was in that much of a hurry. Granted, the Atari 2600 didn't create speedy animations but it seemed like Pitfall Harry was straight-up leisurely. I distinctly remember taking the time to line up jumps from alligator head to alligator head just right, like I had all the time in the world.

But, there's nothing leisurely about Harry's latest spiritual descendant, the archeologist you control in iOS game Temple Run.

In Imangi Studios' jungle adventure, you steer an intrepid explorer who bursts out of an ancient temple with scary mutated gorillas hot on his tail. The game's of the run-as-long-as-you-can variety, where you swipe up to jump over gaps, down to slide under obstacles and tilt to angle your run. Like Jetpack Joyride, you collect coins to unlock different characters and power-ups.

Unlike a lot of Canabalt-style infinite runners, though, it feels you're controlling the world in Temple Run as much as you are the character. The running happens on an elevated bridge structure that's randomly generated and the swipes you use to turn left or right feel like you're turning the world on a pivot. A good sequence will drop those pesky apes out of view but all it takes is a few stumbles to remind you that they're still there and never letting up.

I like Temple Run for its good looks and simple controls, but I've been frustrated by misread inputs where a side swipe gets turned into a jump or a slide gets interpreted as a turn. Still, I played it constantly over the holiday break, with the same hope that I played Pitfall with back in the day: hustling in pursuit of an escape that I know will never come.

Temple Run [iTunes]