I first came across Runbow at an E3 Indie event called The Mix in 2015. From the second I started playing I knew the game was something special — I even gave it my ‘indie game of the show’ award that year. The game first launched on Nintendo Wii U in August 2015, and while I did love playing it on that platform, I’m happy Runbow is finally getting in front of a larger and (seemingly) more passionate audience on Nintendo Switch. So let me start this out by saying something bold, Runbow is a blast to play with friends and simply must own party game. I’ve spent countless hours playing this indie darling on other platforms, and it feels right at home on Nintendo Switch.
If you haven’t heard of Runbow then I’m glad you have stumbled across this review because it surely deserves some more recognition. Runbow is an on-foot racing brawler that is complete chaos. During gameplay, the background color will constantly change and the platforms you jump on will appear and disappear based on their color. While playing with friends, the level hazards, enemies, and items call for a crazy time. It’s so easy to betray a friend with an item or make a sweet comeback and win by a hair. In other words, it’s the type of gameplay that will make you want to ring your friend’s neck or bask in the glory of winning an intense match.
One thing I love about Runbow is that it has some similarities to one of my favorite game series of all time, Super Smash Bros. First off, Runbow features fan-favorite characters from various video games and game series. It just might be the biggest indie quest roster out there. With guests like Shovel Knight, Hyper Light Drifter, Juan from Guacamelee, and more! There’s something about seeing my favorite characters beat the crap out of each other that brings joy to my heart. Along with all these characters are a bunch of costumes, concept art and more to unlock. The game’s controls are also a more simplified version of Super Smash Bros. There’s the double jump + up-B we’re used to in Smash. Along with the down pound and simple smash hits that feel similar as well.
Not only is the nine-player multiplayer a blast, but there’s even an adventure mode with surprisingly addicting platforming levels. When most people think of Runbow, they think about the multiplayer, but the game’s single-player content is actually brilliant. Levels are expertly crafted and take advantage of the color-changing mechanic in fun and interesting ways. You have to learn the rhythm of the color-changes as you keep attempting to complete the level. Sooner or later you’re able to perfectly time your jumps with the motion of the color swaps. Just when you think you understand everything the game has to offer, a new element is added to a level that turns the game on its head. Gaining three stars for each level is a ton of fun and they kept me wanting to come back over and over to try and get a better record-time.
For a longer, more in-depth review you can check out our full (original) review of Runbow for Wii U. Back in 2015, Eli had this to say about it:
“Overall, Runbow is easily one of the best indie titles currently available on the Wii U, and the single best local multiplayer game I have played on the console. What really sets Runbow apart though isn’t just its multiplayer gameplay, but its plethora of modes, innovative level design, charm, and overall gaming excellence.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I’ve been playing Runbow ever since it launched on Wii U back in 2015. To this day, it’s rare a week goes by without jumping in for a couple matches in multiplayer or working on my adventure scores. I’m so excited it is finally available on Nintendo Switch. A lot of indie titles have been thriving on Switch and I’m hoping Runbow does as well. If you’re a fan of party games or unique platforming, Runbow is a must-have title in your game library.
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Brett Medlock is a senior editor and a lead on video production here at Enthusiast Gaming. He’s obsessed with action-adventure games, platinum trophies, and K-pop. To hear more about how lame he is, follow him on Twitter @brettnll