Imagine this. You've just filled up a cardboard box with vinyls - everything from ABBA to Zwan - paid for it and just want to make it home to dance to the beats when a motorist swings by and snatches the box out of your hands. Ruins your day. Totally. No wonder you put on the grooviest tune you've got on your Walkman and set out on the sidewalk to catch the perp. And while you're at it, why not bust out a few moves along the way. Preferably close to traffic lights, fire hydrants, plants and construction sites. That'll get you more points. And swagger.
Record Run is a music game where you need to control your character to the beat of the music. Obstacles appear in time to the music and by avoiding these through swiping the screen at the right time, your runner performs death-defying dance moves to progress. A nice touch? You can import your own music into the game. Sounds great.
That's the idea anyway. But from the very first song it's apparent that the idea is flawed in practice. The fact that this game has been made by Harmonix, the foremost music game development studio in the world, is almost unthinkable. The music that's included with the game is lacks personality, is dull and bland: something that simply doesn't cut it when it comes to music games. Add to this the fact that the synchronisation between the visuals and the music simply isn't there, and the game is a complete disaster zone.
We can see and realise that the obstacles in the second level come on the quarter notes, but we never feel in time with the music. The visuals lag behind the music an 1/8 of a bar. Or sometimes further. Or even just ahead of the music. It's impossible to get into a groove.
And it gets worse as we import our own music. Odds Are by the Barenaked Ladies has a very clear beat via the track's drumming. Yet
Record Run doesn't seem to sync its obstacle creation with this, instead dropping them randomly in the hopes that the player won't notice that there is no correlation between the music and level played. It's even worst as we try this with more complicated music such as Paper Doll by John Mayer, and things like complicated jazz - such as Pinzin Kinzin with Avishai Cohen Trio - is simply unplayable.
Compared to something like Bit. Trip Runner, where you could memorise the levels according to the music and play it blindfolded - this is simply laughable.
When we manage to avoid a few obstacles in a row, a boost is activated that warps the world and its colours into what could have been seen as a wonderfully surrealistic trip. But as this is in no way tied to what happens with the music, it feels completely pointless. It simply comes across as a change of colour during the stage.
It never comes close to the brilliant musical levels in Rayman Legends. There is no crescendo and build up, and we're just mildly content to be playing something to the tune of music we've picked ourselves. But that we could be doing something way more entertaining with our time preys on our mind. Like, closing our eyes. Or playing any other mobile game.
We'd go as far as saying it's a disgrace. A stain on the studio that gave us Dance Central, Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Amplitude; an off-beat music game that lacks rhythm and fails to embrace music and those playing it. When that becomes clear (and it does swiftly) it doesn't matter that there are leaderboards, or even that the game is free. Record Run is broken beyond repair. Avoid at all costs.