This is it. Are you ready for the big one? The fine folks at Pixeljam have really managed to outdo themselves this time, bringing us an outlandishly retro, high stakes (as in pedal-to-the-metal ZOMG! apocalypse-is-coming high), mad multiplayer dash for survival called Dino Run.
Yes, the meteor which is to wipe out all dino-kind is imminent, and a perilous race across the crater-pocked, lava-spewing terrain towards a distant underground paradise is your only hope of survival! Luckily, as a velociraptor, you're better equipped for such a journey than just about any other thunder lizard. Use the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move, jump, and attack. Along the way, collect eggs, tunnel into volcanoes, catch rides on larger dinos and rolling meteorites, and snarf down anything smaller than you for score bonuses, but be quick about it, for rushing up behind you is the Wall of Doom—the oncoming fiery blackness through which nothing living may pass!
Although there are three modes of play (Challenge, Speedrun and Multiplayer), the idea is basically the same: run as fast as you can. Though that might not sound like a particularly deep game construct, Pixeljam keeps it interesting with four levels of difficulty and scads of unlockable features (including new Speedrun levels and downloadable extras), most of which must be purchased with bones. Bones are awarded for various game achievements in all three modes. Besides bones, you can also earn DNA points, which you can then use to upgrade your raptor: make them faster, stronger and more agile. Also hidden throughout the levels are super eggs, which grant large bonuses in all areas: score, bones and DNA. They are tricky to find, though, and no amount of bonus is worth getting fried to a crisp over!
What I love most about Dino Run is neither the perfectly captured retro feel (although the last time I saw pixels that big, I had to call them from a DOS prompt), nor the immense replay value, but the total interactivity your dino has with its surroundings. Pterodactyls will carry you for a short while, boulders and meteorites can be pushed into other dinos and ridden down slopes, flowers and little creatures are for eating, and big dinos are for riding or pushing out of the way. You're being literally bombarded with action, and just about all of it affects you in some way. The cumulative effect instills a sense of franticness in the player appropriate to the apocalyptic nature of the game.
A game that can successfully coax the player into the same mindset as the character is a rare gem. Pixeljam pulled out all the stops with Dino Run, and delivered in a gargantuan way.