The New Year festivities are receding into memory, but the hangover still lingers. Without a big new release on the App Store to dispel the fog, let's revisit one of the brighter spots of 2011 – Temple Run. Inspired by the idol sequence from Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is an endless running game with oodles of humour and style, and it's completely free.
How does it play?
You've just stolen a golden idol from the ruins of an ancient temple, and now you're being chased off the premises by a gang of angry apes. Fleeing with your precious cargo, you have to dodge all manner of pitfalls whilst collecting coins and power-ups to prolong your escape. One slip-up, however, and it's game over. This is the stuff of nightmares for unconventional archaeologists.
The action is from a third person perspective, and the controls are gesture-based. Swipe up on the screen to make your hero jump over roots and gaps in the path. Swipe left or right to make him turn a corner. Swipe down to make him do a speed limbo under low hanging obstacles. Finally, tilt the touchscreen from side to side to collect the coins strewn around the screen.
Power-ups are on hand to provide a number of benefits; invisibility makes you temporarily invulnerable, for example, whilst a speed boost adds a couple of hundred metres to your distance counter, thereby racking up the score multipliers. All of them are incredibly useful, and more can be upgraded in the menu screens using the coins you've collected, or bought outright as part of the freemium model.
Why do we like it?
Relying on Indiana Jones for inspiration is no guarantee of quality, but Temple Run takes a single episode from the films and - quite literally - runs with it. It has the same frantic pace and sardonic humour as you'd expect, yet transposed to an entirely different medium and scale.
Also, and here's the important bit, Temple Run breathes new life into the endless running genre by changing the perspective from 2D to 3D, and then throwing in a whole slew of power-ups that prolong the game without making it seem like cheating. Other excellent features include on-screen score benchmarking with your Game Center buddies, and the option to tweet your score to the wider world.
Excuse the pun, but several months after its initial release, this is a game that's clearly going the distance.
Temple Run is available now on the App Store, Universal (free)