Run-for-your-life survival games on iOS

This week's collection of iOS apps is all about going for distance. The first requires that you swing from object to object using your trusty grappling hook. The second has you running and jumping across platforms as you blow away monsters. The last is a brand-new game that has you running in full 3D as you jump, turn, and slide your way past obstacles.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

Just yesterday I wrote about a running game based on the viral video Baby Monkey (riding backwards on a pig). It's a fairly simple running game, but it got me to thinking about what would be the best games in the escape/running/survival genre (I'm not sure there's a standardized name for this genre). When I saw that a new game came out (the third in this collection) that added even more to the escape genre, I knew I had the theme for this week's post.

Escape games are not for everyone. Regardless of the setting, these games are the type that get you worked up, with your heart beating fast, trying to get as far as you can to beat your high score. All it takes is one mistake and you'll need to start over, so those with video game rage issues may want to skip this collection--we don't want anyone throwing their iPhones across the room.

This week's collection of iOS apps is all about going for distance. The first requires that you swing from object to object using your trusty grappling hook. The second has you running and jumping across platforms as you blow away monsters. The last is a brand-new game that has you running in full 3D as you jump, turn, and slide your way past obstacles.

Hook Worlds

Always keep your eyes on the scenery ahead to find a good place to shoot your grappling hook.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Hook Worlds (99 cents) is the latest sequel to one of our favorite all time game franchises in the escape genre on iOS, Hook Champ. Though there are four different game types in Hook Worlds, the object remains mostly the same as in its predecessors: use your grappling hook to swing from object to object to obtain the highest distance possible. The graphics are smooth with high frame rates as you swing through caves, under rooftops, and over hot lava. Unlike the earlier games in the genre, Hook Worlds has dynamically created maps with no end--you simply need to last as long as possible.

Hook Worlds offers a few different game types to add more challenges on top of the basic mechanic and to give the app more replay value. The first game type offers the original high-speed chase found in the earlier games, and you're given rocket boots to get out of sticky situations. The second is called bounty gunner: as you swing through the levels, you'll also have to shoot ghost pirates with your grappling hook control on the right side of the screen, and your weapons on the left. The third game type is about obstacle survival because along with your grappling hook, you have a reverse-gravity belt to switch from swinging from the ceiling of the map to swinging from the floor. The final game type is called Hook Champ 1000, which gives you a pixel throwback to classic arcade games, but don't let the simple graphics fool you--this one might be the hardest of all.

All the game types offer their own unique challenges and you play as different characters for each one. We found that even playing for some time, we could switch game types to fall in love with the game all over again. Maybe it's because it reminds us of arcade classic Bionic Commando, but whatever the draw is, it keeps us coming back for more.

If you like escape genre games where you go for the greatest distance, or were a fan of Bionic Commando in its hay day, we strongly recommend you check out Hook Worlds.

Monster Dash

In this escape game, you even get to ride a motorcycle for brief stretches.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Monster Dash (99 cents), from the makers of the hit iPhone game Fruit Ninja, challenges you to jump from building to building to go for the greatest distance, all while monsters try to thwart your mission. The game mechanics in Monster Dash are much like the popular Web game Canibalt (the original game of the genre), in which your character automatically runs while you carefully time your jumps from platform to platform. But with Monster Dash, you're also given a fire button so you can shoot monsters that get in your way while you struggle to stay alive.

Monster Dash is a very easy game to pick up and play because of its simple game mechanics, but the developers of the game added plenty of variation by including themed areas (all randomly generated) so you won't get tired of running through the same location again and again. You'll fight zombies, demons, and vampires as you travel through well-designed levels that each gives the game a different feel. You also can find weapon pickups as you run through the levels, including Mr. Zappy (a lightning gun) and The Pacifier (a large handgun). To keep the game interesting, as you run, your character (did we mention his name is Barry Steakfries?) teleports to a different themed world every 1,000 meters, making for varied gameplay as you advance and the pace gets faster.

Overall, if you like running games like Canibalt, or just want a simple, but fun game with tons of variety, Monster Dash is a challenging and addictive option.

Temple Run

Run through the 3D landscapes and collect coins so you can buy power-ups.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Temple Run (99 cents) is a new survival/escape game from the makers of Harbor Master where you play as a character who's a lot like Indiana Jones from the popular action movies. The simple storyline is you've stolen a cursed golden idol, and now you need to run for your life from demon guardians through all kinds of obstacles. A little different from the other games in this collection, Temple Run gives you a 3D perspective as you run, jump, turn, and slide down pathways while grabbing coins. You'll definitely want to grab as many coins as possible; in between runs, you can buy upgrades like the coin magnet that sucks coins toward your character, or the coin value multiplier that gives you double and triple coin value the farther you run.

Temple Run breaths new life into the running game genre with high frame rates on the iPhone 4 and a new level of interaction as you run. You run on 3D stone platforms, crude rock walls, and wooden walkways as you grab coins and avoid obstacles. A swipe upward makes you jump, a horizontal swipe lets you turn at intersections, and a swipe downward lets you slide under low-hanging obstacles. You also can run from side to side on a pathway by tilting your iPhone left or right--a necessary action when you need to grab coins on the side of your run and avoid broken parts of your path. The combination of all of these moves adds even more challenge because you never know what you're going to face when you go around the next turn.

Overall, with beautiful graphics, dynamic levels, unique controls, and power-ups you can buy with coins, Temple Run is an excellent addition to the survival/escape genre of video games. If you like the idea of running for your life while making quick moves to escape, Temple Run is an excellent time-waster.

Got a better survival/escape game we should know about? Let us know in the comments!

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