As much as I love endless runners (heck, just yesterday I penned an article detailing five recent greats), I can’t help but feel that the genre has lost its way somewhat. These days it’s less about testing your reaction skills, more about collecting coins, investing in power-ups and levelling up your character.
With that in mind, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, contender for Smartphone Game of the Year, endless runner (of sorts) Boson X. It’s really f**king good.
Boson X is split into six levels, and in each, you’re tasked with tapping left, right, and both directions together to jump (left, right and forwards respectively) as a series of shapes and platforms materialise in front of you.
Along the way, you’ll see blue platforms, which are key to progressing. Running across them boosts your little meter thingy, and when it hits 100%, you’ll a) send the level into overdrive, at which point you’ll probably die within seconds, and b) unlock the next level.
That might sound simple enough, but you can perform a range of jumps by holding the direction(s) down, from a quick hop to a floating bound. As the levels go on, you’ll need to exercise pinpoint precision to keep running.
Attempting to throw you off further still are the mind-melting visuals, with platforms constantly spinning into play, zooming past, flashing and collapsing before your eyes. If you’re in any way sensitive to flashing lights, do not play Boson X. It might be the last thing you ever do.
But that’d be a shame, fella, as Boson X is a fantastic game.
Each of those games is actually free to play, but nothing’s really free on planet earth, and ultimately the developers expect you to fork out for skins and power-ups and what not, while saving up is generally a painstaking process for those who refuse to pay up.
Boson X, on the other hand, simply charges £1.49 and asks you to perform well; everyone starts out on the same level, the same playing field, and there’s nothing to buy, no shop. Yes, it’s really difficult, but it’s perfectly balanced; when you screw up, it’s entirely your own fault.
As such, I found myself paying attention to the Boson X leaderboards – one for each of the six levels. There’s no argument to be made that someone might’ve bought his or her way to the top; it’s purely a test of skill.
Complaints? Nothing major. The controls take a few goes to get used to, tending towards feeling unintuitive at first, but you’ll soon find yourself zoning out and playing almost subconsciously.
On that note, I don’t recommend playing for several hours straight, as I often do when reviewing games. It takes a few moments to adjust to reality.
But otherwise, buy, buy, buy.
- No in-app purchases
- No power-ups, just running and jumping
- The leaderboards actually mean something
- Just the six levels
- Takes a few goes to get used to the controls
- You might want to gouge your eyeballs out after extended periods
Summary: Boson X recalls a simpler time, when endless runners like Canabalt served as a relatively pure test of reaction. It’s a breath of fresh air in a genre – and indeed industry – that’s become polluted by pathetic freemium panhandling.
Developer: Ian MacLarty
Price: £1.49 @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.