Running Through Fairy Tales Was Never This Much Fun
Gala Networks has a few original titles under their wings, including a game that looks like the offspring of Super Mario Galaxy and Mad Dash, called Tales Runner. The name comes from the fact that the in-game missions and stages are mostly made in tribute to popular fairytales. This includes magic carpet rides through the streets of India and beanstalk platform hopping in a stage that pays homage to Jack and the Beanstalk.
However, fairytales aside, Tales Runner’s prime highlight resides in its incalculable fun-factors and streamlined play mechanics that make it unlike any other MMO and very unlike many other console games as well. It’s just too bad that community isn’t as welcoming or as strong as the concept in which the game was designed.
Concept (5 out of 5)
As mentioned in the previous section, take a few parts Mad Dash, a few parts Mario Kart, a few parts of Super Mario Galaxy and stir it in a pot all its own and you’ll end up with Tales Runner. The game combines a mixture of various gameplay elements as well as MMO character properties, to give it a truly unique feel. The ability to open a farm and earn extra stats, or run around in the social park to talk to other players adds a nice community structure to the game.
Players can also choose if they want to race classic 2D Sonic style or new age Sonic Heroes or Sonic Riders style. The maps are always in 3D but how they’re raced greatly changes when going from behind-the-character races to side-scrolling races. It also adds a nice measure of replay to the already diverse selection of maps.
Added to this, even though Tales Runner is a robust MMO racing game, it also has a very detailed and enjoyable single-player mode with plenty of tutorial missions, single races and mission modes where loot and items can be earned and unlocked.
A balanced selection of power-ups, character customization options, unlockable new characters and special cards to unlock new items gives Tales Runner some serious depth to be a free-to-play MMO.
Gameplay (5 out of 5)
I certainly can’t talk down about the gameplay mechanics of Tales Runner. The game runs absolutely perfect, even when there are 30 people all jammed in one single map trying to get to the finish line. The controls are exceptionally fluid and even more-so than what I was expecting. In the side-scrolling races the change in the game’s mechanics are hardly noticeable and the response timing for jumping, double-jumping and activating turbo are also handled quite well.
The items also play a heavy part in the outcome of a race (when they’re activated) allowing players to dynamically change positions using a wide number of abilities that range from heat-seeking chicken missiles, to buckets that force players into a restricted first-person view if they mistakenly pick it up.
Everything works so well in the game and the varied content, platforms and obstacles to overcome and avoid gives the game an intense feeling of interactive thrills and a dynamic sense of competition rarely seen in other MMOs.
Graphics And Sound (5 out of 5)
Most games give you something to complain about in the graphics and visual department; faulty resolutions, bad textures, weak lighting, sour framerates…the works. To my surprise there was nothing really worth complaining about in Tales Runner when it comes to the visuals. If your PC can muster it the game has some fairly impressive cel-shaded effects and an appeasing art-style to boot.
I think it’s a striking testament to the game’s overall appeal that so many aspects of its design were taken into account to work and work correctly. For gamers with a really high-end PC it’s possible to turn up the visuals to their max and enjoy the cel-shaded look without any slowdown. For everyone with a moderate PC or laptop the game still works exceptionally well, especially with the way it syncs up the game speed so all players get a really enjoyable 30 frames-per-second experience with nearly no lag or slowdown.
The visual performance isn’t the only highlight in the aesthetics department for Tales Runner. The game manages to entice and keep gamers entertained with a very colorful display of original stage designs, artistically creative themes and a surprisingly diverse selection of character customization options.
In regards to the soundtrack…it’s all standard fare of what you would expect from a casual looking title of this sort, but it all fits together rather nicely, especially for keeping gamers intense and focused on some of the more difficult races.
Overall (5 out of 5)
I will admit to one fault that I experienced in the game but I can’t place the blame on the game itself, and that’s with the community. While I could knock a star off from encountering a lot of bratty, impatient kids while playing, it’s not inherently the game’s fault that a lot of younger audiences will be drawn to Tales Runner (and rightfully so).
In hindsight, it just comes with the territory of being an MMO. And still, players who have a tough time getting acquainted or finding racing buddies can still hit up the free-roaming mode that allows players to walk around, chat, make friends and inspect items.
The additional farming mode (which seemingly comes out of nowhere), item crafting, story missions, multiple multiplayer and single-player modes add enough variety and replay to keep the game feeling fresh at just about every turn, which puts Tales Runner a lap ahead of the competition.
Anyone looking for an original racing game that’s fun for the whole family would only do themselves a disservice by not checking out Tales Runner.
This post is part of the series: MMO Racing Game Reviews
A few online racing games for speed enthusiasts.