Mos Speedrun is a brilliant homage to the unforgivingly brutal platformers of yesteryear

Mos Speedrun is going to make Apple very, very happy with me. For the fifth time today, Physmo’s platformer has made me have to bite down on the urge to fling my iPhone against the nearest wall. It’s going to happen at some point; I just know it. But I can’t help but keep playing. Frustrating as it might get, Mos Speedrun is also a brilliant homage to the addictive charm of yesteryear’s unforgivingly brutal platformers.

With twenty levels in all and four badges to collect in every stage, Mos Speedrun will have you entertained for a decent amount of time. The truly hardcore will have a ball trying to beat the stages within the time limits set; no easy task once you’ve worked your way into the latter half of the game. Casual players, on the other hand, will likely be more preoccupied hunting for the hidden skulls on each level or collecting all the coins. Like many other titles in the genre, Mos Speedrun will have you accumulating a certain amount of badges before it permits you to unlock each subsequent world so it’s pretty darn spiffy to be able to decide how.

But at the end of the day, what makes Mos Speedrun appealing is the fact that it doesn’t try to be anything but a platformer. Granted, there’s a slight hint of exploration for garnish, but for the most partit’s just a beautifully well-executed platformer. The levels are well-designed and filled with things likeunderwater segments and lava pits that continuously spit fireballs into the air; a tribute, perhaps, to thelegends like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros. Enemies are plentiful, ranging fromdepressed-looking zombies to scorpions and bees.

Speaking of the enemies, I found the fact that the zombies would smile whenever you die enormously creepy. It’s a nice touch, unsettling as I found it, and also one of many. The way momentum can carry your corpse through the air for a little while is another nice one. True to its vintage flavor, Mos Speedrun’s visual and audio presentation are all reminiscent of the 8-bit NES era. The music is especially impressive. Though I enjoy chiptunes as much as the next gamer, I’ve never really been too interested in the ambient sounds of a game – it probably has something to do with my old laptop of eight years having a non-functional sound card. However, Mos Speedrun’s fast-paced background music left a surprising impact and kept my blood pumping even as I fell into zombies time and time again.

Mos Speedrun

Mos Speedrun

Sadly, however, I found the controls somewhat lackluster compared to everything else in the package. Now, to be fair, I also suck terribly at the genre, something that might have colored my judgement somewhat. Either way, I remain at odds with Physmo’s default control scheme. In theory, the idea is sound enough. Tapping either side of the screen will have the character running in that direction whereas touching both simultaneously will cause her to jump. It’s far more streamlined compared to the virtual d-pad setup that serves as the alternative, but I found it harder to use. Changing directions, jumping accidentally, getting stuck for no apparent reason – these were all issues I stumbled across.

Of course, as I’ve mentioned earlier, it might have more to do with me than the game itself. When Iswitched over the other control scheme, life became easier. Overall, however, Mos Speedrun is excellent value for your money. Regardless of your familiarity with the genre, it’s one of those games you’ll find yourself continuously playing. The goals are varied and the difficulty level is just right; just remember to have your mobile device of choice somehow harnessed to your wrist when you feel like tossing it down in disgust for the umpteenth time.