Review – Mr. Run and Jump

There are times when a hands-on preview at an event can give you a succint impression of what to expect from a game. There are other times in which these same previews can actually be deceiving, especially if the game in question is a slow burn, story-driven, or an ever-improving gauntlet of challenges which can’t be properly seen in such a short session. I have to admit that my initial impressions of Mr. Run and Jump at BIG Festival 2023 were merely “fine”, but that’s probably because I couldn’t see a proper vertical slice of everything the game had to offer. Things felt totally different with the complete version of the game, which ended up being a lot more entertaining (and infuriating) than initially expected.

Mr. Run and Jump design

What if I told you this is actually one of the earliest (and easiest) levels in the game?

As previously mentioned, Mr. Run and Jump was made to resemble a Recharged remake of an Atari 2600 that had never existed prior to this year, as Atari themselves are also making a retro version of it for its vintage console. No, really. Whilst the “original” is a mere 2D platformer, the “remake” is meant to resemble a challenging, precision-based platformer, not unlike games like Celeste and Super Meat Boy. It’s tough, it’s unforgiving as all hell. The first few levels, as previously seen in the demo, act less like gauntlets and more like mere tutorials, to let you know what to expect. This is what I had previously played at BIG Festival, and it wasn’t impressive. What came afterwards was much, much better, however.

A plethora of jumping techniques ensure that the stick figure you control has tons of means to jump over chasms, hop onto ledges, climb obstacles, and much more. Some of the levels thrown at me seemed utterly ridiculous and impossible to beat at first glance, but I ended up finding a way to complete these hurdles after some trial and error. Okay, after a LOT of trial and error.

Mr. Run and Jump 2600

Mr. Run and Jump actually starts out as a faux Atari 2600 game. Loved that touch.

It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Jump and Run is a tough game. It is a Meat Boy-inspired platformer, it’s meant to be tough as nails. Some of the gauntlets infuriated me to death. It felt like it was downright impossible to beat some of the more annoying sections, especially when there was an ever-moving black hole chasing after me. With the exception of these particular sections, which were only limited to the end of each world, the game surprised me by being somewhat… forgiving.

At times, an eye-shaped NPC would spawn to basically showcase me what to do in order to complete the gauntlet. Sure, that still requires having the quick reflexes and muscle memory in order to pull these stunts off, but that was already one hell of a tip for some of the more (seemingly) impossible jumping puzzles. If I was dying a lot midway through a section, the game would offer me an optional checkpoint. Furthermore, if I was just dying a lot during a particular part of the level, the game would offer me an invicibility boost for that particular screen, letting me bypass obstacles and enemies, at the cost of simply not being able to grab the coins scattered throughout that section.

Mr. Run and Jump void

At the end of the each world, you will need to run away from a constantly moving black hole called “The Void”.

Purists will obviously complain about the inclusion of these “easy mode” perks, but Mr. Run and Jump doesn’t force you to use them. It’s just the game’s way to ensure anyone can experience its well-crafted (albeit infuriating) levels. Accessibility options are never a bad thing, and I do commend the developers at Graphite Lab for coming up with this interesting solution for what’s otherwise a very niche and newcomer-unfriendly subgenre.

The only thing that just really failed to impress me was Mr. Run and Jump‘s presentation. It’s not bad, but I think that Atari’s insistence on releasing games with a neon-drenched, retro-futuristic art style is starting to become overly repetitive. Sure, the game looks pretty at first, but most levels look identical to one another; the only difference being the color pallette being used during that particular world. The same can be said about the soundtrack. It’s not bad, it’s just average at the best, and very repetitive.

Mr. Run and Jump

Well… f*** this level.

Mr. Run and Jump stands out from the barrage of challenging precision-based platforms infesting today’s indie scene by having some well-crafted (albeit utterly infuriating) level designs, but most importantly, some commendable accessibility options for newcomers to the genre. It wants you to get angry at its gauntlets, but it doesn’t want you to ragequit. It will always give you an extra push to help you beat a section just a few runs before you lose your patience. That alone is worth praising. As for the rest, it’s not a particularly visually exciting title, but it’s one of the better Atari originals released in recent times.

Graphics: 7.0

The retro-modern art style is pleasing at first, but those visuals get repetitive after a while.

Gameplay: 9.0

The platforming is precise and the game takes its time to teach you new mechanics at a consistent pace. The level design is infuriating, but still beatable. Furthermore, there are accessibility options.

Sound: 6.5

Not particularly a bad soundtrack, but it’s quite repetitive. Some additional bleeps and bloops act as sound effects. Overall, it’s passable but forgettable.

Fun Factor: 8.0

It angered me to death, but I kept playing it. It motivated me to keep on trying just one more time. And when I would decide to ragequit, it would hand me over a free pass to the next screen, motivating me to not stop playing it for a while longer. You clever minx, you.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Mr. Run and Jump is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.

A copy of Mr. Run and Jump was provided by the publisher.