It takes quite a bit to come up with a unique idea in the App Store, but that’s exactly what the developers of Ring Run Circus have done. There’s a level based adventure akin to a platformer, but rather than jumping between platforms, your characters skate around rings. It’s a circular platformer where each level is composed of a series of rings, and you need to guide your circus performers through them to collect the key, and unlock the door at the end. It’s a new concept, but it’s relatively easy to control as your character rotates on the inside of the rings automatically, and you simply tap, and hold for them to skate on the outside of the ring. The outside of the ring comes into play, as the character needs to skate on the outside where rings are joined to change paths to a new ring. This basic action is fleshed out into complex stretches of circling through multiple rings to the finish.
Ring Run Circus features over 50 different levels with three main characters, with each one offering a special ability. Nina can leap over obstacles, Ned can smack enemies, and Nelson can hook levers, all activated by just tapping the right side of the screen. Each set of levels is designed for the particular character, but there’s always the base structure of gliding through rings to reach the finish. All of the action is presented through a high quality circus theme that includes elephants, bears on unicycles, monkeys on roller skates, flaming rings, and more. There’s a lot going on in any individual level, and there’s a unique layout every single time for some nice variety. Each level is also scored based on collecting all of the stars, and reaching the time limit to give you a couple extras to replay for.
There’s no doubt it takes awhile to get used to the new mechanics involved, and it can be hard to wrap your mind around the way your character moves. The only real drawback is that the new idea doesn’t lend itself towards precision because the mechanic never really becomes intuitive. You always have to think about what your action will do, especially since your character is constantly moving, and you only change what side of the ring they’re rolling on. The flow of the game is always truncated by just missing a connection, or flipping sides of the ring at the wrong time to set up colliding with an enemy. One mistake can ruin an entire level because the goal is to create a continuous glide through the rings. It’s simply tough to do so, because you feel so removed from the action as a single tap, and hold doesn’t really connect with any movement on the rings. The main concern is that there’s never a starting point, or level balance to set a standard by, since there’s constant circular motion. It’s a game that you want to enjoy, but frustration ensues when you lose sight of which way is up numerous times. With all that said, if you keep at it, the result is worth the initial frustration due to the excellent level design, and the way the rings just fit together.
Ring Run Circus ($3.99, Universal) is a brand new idea packed in a well designed game that can cause dizziness, Once you hit that first level where you flow seamlessly through transitions, and everything really clicks you will be hooked on the game. There’s a whole lot to like, and you’ll end up wanting to play through every level. You just got to give it some time, and once you do it’s a worthwhile iOS gaming experience.