Sound Ride is a level-based runner that draws inspiration from the BIT.TRIP Runner series. Its abstract and colorful world, quirky characters, and catchy, upbeat music combine to create an environment that’s a pleasure to traverse. Unfortunately, inconsistent physics and a limited amount of gameplay cause many of those trips to be repetitive, frustrating, and less enjoyable as a whole than its individual, charming parts.
Those trips will be made as Kiwi, a bizarre bird-man scientist in hot pink track shorts. Kiwi accidentally altered the time-space continuum and can now run faster than light—which he must do to avoid dying. Each of Sound Ride’s current 20 stages sees Kiwi running against a throbbing, colorful backdrop that changes hues as he progresses. Strange contraptions, like electrical towers and flashing, stilted robots, dot the otherwise sparse, but appealingly geometric landscape.
Most of Kiwi’s time in this world is spent jumping over obstacles and one-hit dangers, like spiked hurdles and hungry alligators. Players have only two moves at their disposal: jump and double-jump (performed by jumping mid-air). Timing is critical as many obstacles are placed at such specific distances from each other that only one type of jump will suffice. For instance, double-jumping over an object that has another danger immediately behind it will cause you to land on that second hazard and die. While this adds another layer of challenge and required dexterity to the game, it also results in many just-misses that will repeatedly send Kiwi back to the beginning—or halfway checkpoint—of the level when he inevitably hits an unexpected snag.
The frequency of death in Sound Ride is multiplied by two other issues: a limited view of what’s ahead and an inconsistent physics engine. There are many hills and cliffs scattered throughout each stage that add depth to the run, but the camera does not lead beyond Kiwi’s current position. This means that whatever is at the crest of a hill—usually an enemy—is impossible to see until you’re right on top of it. Read more »