Subway Surfers is a new face in the endless running game genre. Caught tagging a parked train the main character, Jake, takes off down the train yard. He is chased by an overweight security guard and his french bulldog. The core game mechanic has the player running along a set of three subway tracks jumping back and forth trying to avoid moving trains, hurdles, and other obstacles.
The tracks are littered with coins and power-ups to collect as you swipe your finger side-to-side changing tracks, up and down to jump and roll. Power-ups temporarily increase your jump height, coin collection or points; and the effectiveness of each power-up can be upgraded with coins. Missions and daily challenges like “Roll 200 times in the center lane” earn you point multipliers and extra coins.
Each run is unique. The map generator strings together different segments each time you start a run, which keeps it exciting and challenging. The simple and intuitive controls are smooth and consistent, allowing you to get just the right timing on that next jump. The graphics are crisp, colorful and easy to read even when the speed picks up. As for spending real coin? Subway Surfers allows the player to buy extra coins but also lets you earn them at a rapid clip: never forcing the player into an “invite friends or play money” social game corner.
For all its fantastic fun it does have two drawbacks, both fairly minor. First, there is severe lag when the game first starts and logs into GameCenter, causing unresponsiveness and usually means crashing into something. And second, one of the power-ups, a jump boost, is closer to a deathtrap. The game play is highly dependent on the rhythm and timing of jumps and these super sneakers will get you out of sync.
The beauty of this little treasure is that mobile games, which tend to be played in short 10 to 15 in bursts, are often played during the commute. Trying to avoid getting hit by trains converts the subway ride of repetitive drudgery to work into a fast paced meta-adventure. Once you start, this free game keeps you coming back for more.