12.38am. I had eggs for breakfast, but they were far from my mind in the middle of the night. It was Winter and I was lying down watching Summer Games Done Quick, taking in the joy of my favourite hobby from half a world away. One of my favourite reasons to watch speedrun marathons is discovering new games. Runny Egg was up next, and it was a good enough reason to stay on the couch. I’ve never heard of this game, but it looked cheerful enough that I could pretend it was Summer and continue escaping my life.
Go you Runny Egg, you. With its little feet paddling back and forth, it was trying as hard as it could to be an egg. It didn’t matter how crappy this endless runner game was, it was fulfilling all the requirements of being a runny egg. I couldn’t help but admire its sense of purpose. The egg jumped over some enemies. It turned around and collected more ducks. Wait a sec, it turned around? Now it’s double jumping. Wall jumps? It suddenly hit me that this isn’t automated. Runny Egg is the real deal.
Blinded by the pace of the speedrun, the state of Indie games, the seasonal disconnection and my egg prejudice, i had misjudged the runny egg. A rush of guilt flooded through my system like an egg white. I had never heard of this game and started furiously googling for information.
The next surprise came when I found out Runny Egg was on the 3DS eShop, and at $2 it seemed like it was pushing above its weight in terms of value. Should I get it? It only has 2 ratings on the eShop and is buried by egg recipes in google search. It looks fun but maybe I’m blinded by guilt. Maybe it’s a bad decision. Two dollars can buy a lot of things. With this egg betrayal weighing heavily on my mind I could not be trusted to make good choices. Oh well. I caved. At this point, I just had to know how wrong my night could go.
5 minutes later I was already playing the game after a quick download, bless this digital age. Egg platformers have never been this instant and you can have breakfast at any time of the day now. Runny Egg doesn’t mess around and lets you get straight into the gameplay. I was immediately surprised by how good the controls were. Runny Egg is VERY responsive and the game feels a bit like Yoshi’s Island, with jumps being instant yet somehow having weight to them. Runny Egg springs up off his little feet while jumping, and looks down at the ground in anger as his legs prepare to land. The animation gives a good sense of trajectory and massively helps your judgement. Not many big budget games nail the movement expression so well, let alone a $2 eShop platformer I found by accident. While the low budget presentation was apparent, I was surprised and delighted by the high level of craftsmanship.
The level design is solid and interesting, with multiple paths and obstacles over 16 levels of decent length. You can play on Easy, Normal or Hard for different enemy placements and challenge goals. Runny Egg can double jump and wall jump and the tactile feedback when doing these feels very good. You see a little ring where you double jump, and get a good push off a wall jump. It’s like New SMB’s but perhaps with a smaller window to jump. It’s not too difficult though.
After running for a certain amount of time, Runny Egg can build up super speed to reach further platforms and do tricks. It’s VERY fast and hard to control, but so satisfying when you can bounce across the stage. It can also tear through enemies like a shine spark in Metroid or a spin dash in Sonic. There are cleverly placed platforms that allow some awesome strategies, and optimising a good path through a level reminded me of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze time trials a little bit.
If this game WAS an endless runner then I think it’d get old pretty quickly, but the fact that it’s open with multiple paths really makes exploring fun. One of the challenge goals is to collect a certain number of ducks, and you can completely ignore the clock while doing this. The smart level design gives a good incentive to clear all the objectives since you are discovering new gameplay. This is exactly how “content” should be defined and I love it.
If I have one major negative it’s the music. The soundtrack is awful. ONE song plays in every single fucking stage and it sounds like obnoxious clown music relentlessly drilling into your brain on a 15 second loop. It’s a huge missed opportunity, because if this game had a good theme song then Runny Egg could have been a platforming mascot. I would love to have heard different music in the different themed levels too, like lava and water. It would have made a huge difference. Everything else about the presentation is good I think, the graphics are simple but pleasant. It somehow avoids that cheap look with good variety to the stages, a bit of personality, and a solid presence to most of the geometry.
All the geometry looks okay to me except for these platforms. This platform above is moving, but it’s hard to judge because the camera moves with it at the same speed. Due to how simple this game looks, a lot of times you don’t have a graphical reference for your speed. This could easily be solved with some kind of blur on the sides of platforms that move, or lines / fire poking out of the sides. It’s just floating magically and feels a bit jarring. I don’t need an explanation for a platform in a platformer, but it’s important to be able to judge where I am for gameplay so that’s just one thing I think they could have done better.
Another issue I have is the run button. It doesn’t need to exist. I had the run button held down the entire time I was playing this game, which means it should be the default speed. A lot of games are guilty of this and it baffles me. This isn’t Walky Egg.
While there are a few small problems, the core gameplay of Runny Egg is great and the existence of this game makes me very happy. It’s a fast-paced platformer with good controls, skill-based level design and cleverly designed content. Even Nintendo gets this wrong sometimes so it’s crazy to see a small eShop dev get so many things right. You can also upgrade the stats of your egg between levels, with hardness, speed and HP all there. There are also achievements for dying to enemies which is something I hadn’t seen before. You’ll get a new pun-filled recipe for every unique splat.
I legitimately love Runny Egg and I wrote this because there’s almost no reviews or love for it on the internet. I found 3 reviews and none of them even talk about the game properly, one even calls the music delightful. You have to be fucking kidding me. I also want to mention that saturated fat is not bad for you. It’s a myth encouraged by the egg-white media. Eat your yolks for more HP, improved hardness and faster run speed. The game is $2 AU on the 3DS eShop, and if it’s out in Australia then it’s probably out in most places. You can also watch the hottest speedrun of 2016 right here.