Bust-N-Rush, by Techtonic Games, is an infinite-runner style game played from the third-person perspective. Essentially, you’re sprinting endlessly forward through large corridors, smashing through gigantic boulders to build up combo chains. As is to be expected, you’ll be dodging various hazardous materials, collecting powerups and jumping, Incredible Hulk-like, across giant pits. Like any classic arcade game, the goal is simple: Get the highest score.
The backstory is that the antagonist, the Satellite of Wub, has killed your best friend. Or destroyed, in this case, as his the best friend was a pink plastic flamingo named Paco. It’s a cute story, but essentially meaningless in this type of game.
Here, gameplay reigns supreme, and Bust-N-Rush gets it mostly right.
On the positive side, Bust-N-Rush is fast-paced and addictive in a way that hearkens back to the olden days of eight and sixteen-bit games, in the sense that it all comes down to your speed and reflexes. And it never feels unfair. If you die in this game, you can rest assured that it’s your fault. Adding to the challenge, the levels aren’t pre-made, but instead are procedurally generated, meaning you won’t be memorizing your way to fame and glory.
Bust-N-Rush also adds a more modern flair with the addition of Quest Mode. In this game type, you’re still doing the basic corridor runs, but with the addition of tokens scattered throughout the course, just waiting to be picked up to activate a quest. All the quests seemed to be of the “smash x number of y item” variety, but they still add a little spice to the otherwise-straightforward runs. And just picking up the tokens can actually be pretty challenging when you’re rocketing through at top speed, let alone recognizing specific objects in time to target them.
In addition to Quest Mode, there’s the more traditional Survival Mode (run until you’re killed in pursuit of the highest score) and the intriguing Bust-A-Friend Mode (challenge your buddies to beat your score). Of the three modes, Bust-A-Friend has the most potential to keep you coming back to the game. It’s hard to resist the idea of trying to beat a friend’s score or to show of your running prowess by sending a challenge. It’s part of the game’s old-school, arcade-y feel that we liked so much.
Unfortunately, while the game would let us issue challenges to each other, they were never received, so Bust-A-Friend remains more of an interesting concept than an actual feature right now. Hopefully this was just due to the network not being fully in place pre-launch. We’ll come back to this after release and update the status.
Finally, Bust-N-Rush also has achievements, as has become the standard. There are over sixty different goals to work toward and, if you’re like us, this will keep you coming back in an attempt to complete them all.
All of that is well and good, but where the gameplay succeeds, the presentation falls a little flat.
The few different environments we played through were somewhat bland and repetitive. It’s hard to spot the differences between the levels. That being said, in a game that moves as fast as Bust-N-Rush does, you probably won’t even notice. It’s not like you’re going to stop and admire the decorating.
The music is enjoyably moody and atmospheric, when listened to on its own. But in context, it feels a bit out of place. When you’re screaming down a dimly-lit corridor, smashing through gigantic boulders, and jumping across gigantic chasms, it helps to have a soundtrack that suits the mood.
The menus and presentation are functional, but they do feel very dated. Dated enough that it reminded us of Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge.
Which is from 2000.
That being said, the graphics are actually very nice, although neither of us were able to run the game at the highest settings. But even at the lowest settings, you could still see far enough into the distance to plan your next set of moves and keep yourself in the race, which is vitally important in this game.
Bust-N-Rush is not a very unique idea, but the gameplay is super-solid, challenging, and addictive. Walking away from the game, we felt like we’d just spend time with a beloved arcade game of yore, and that’s a pretty great achievement by itself. In the end, the flaws are insignificant, since the drive to keep topping previous high scores and beat your friends will keep you coming back for a long time.
Bust-N-Rush was released today on Origin at $9.99 for the standard edition or $14.99 for the Double Bust Bundle, which includes two copies of the game and bonus content like wallpapers and videos. It’s currently only available for Windows PCs, however, a Mac version is promised.
Co-reviewed with Loser Geek.
Download copies of the game were provided by Techtonic Games for this review.