Developer: QubicGames S.A.
Publisher: QubicGames S.A.
Platforms: PlayStation Vita
Tested on: PlayStation Vita
Geki Yaba Runner – Review
Looking for a definition of ‘Geki Yaba’ yields nothing, yaba on the other hand means: Yet Another Bloody Acronym. So that leads nowhere… Upon booting the game up and playing, the first thought that forms in your mind will be: ‘This is a ported mobile game.’. Which is exactly what it is. It’s sad to see that with all its processing power and raw graphical capabilities, the PlayStation Vita has becoming nothing more than a handheld haven for ports of mobile games. At least Geki Yaba Runner uses the touch screen to some extent. Which is a welcome feature.
The story behind Geki Yaba Runner is simple, a kingdom in danger and it’s up to you to save it. So you’ll have to strap on your fastest, your most heavy, or your most time manipulating boots and rush to the kingdom’s aid. The story is lighthearted and there isn’t really much of plot exposition, save for the moments where you are granted new powers. You’ll storm a castle, kiss a frog princess only to be caught, upon which your freshly awakened powers make you rush off again. It’s not much, but Geki Yaba Runner isn’t a game you are supposed to play for the plot. It’s more of a casual game where you play a couple of levels, or the same level over and over again until you’ve either perfected it, completed it or both.
Don’t pick up this game if you are expecting a gargantuan plot to tide you over in between massive AAA titles. It’s a funny quirky story that loosely explains why your gnome has his powers and breaks up the monotony of ticking off the levels.
As stated before, Geki Yaba Runner isn’t a game that’s going to blow you away with photorealistic graphics or minutely detailed ragdoll physics. The game has a funny, quirky aesthetic that further supports the overall tone the story sets. It’s colourful, upbeat and easy on the eyes even with the speed the levels whizz by.
There is however one slight subliminal message in the levels. If you pay close attention to the background, which is difficult, seeing as you have to pay minute attention to what’s happening to your protagonist so he doesn’t bite the dust, you’ll see that the scenery isn’t all that cheerful and happy to begin with. Trees have twisted faces, as in in agony or despair, and once you see that, everything seems off. It’s not in your face, it’s ever so subtle and all the more creepy because of it.
The game is very clear on what you are supposed to do, which objects to break and which to avoid altogether. There really isn’t much trial and error and that’s a good thing because a fast paced game like Geki Yaba Runner should be supported by its visual queues and not from trial and error. The latter thankfully isn’t the case.
Geki Yaba Runner is a mobile port, and as such, the sound isn’t much to write home about. No voice overs, a very repetitive tune which grates in your ears about ten levels in. A very dull noise when you die and the ‘You’ve beaten this level’ music isn’t exactly rewarding. The only thing that’ll make you want to set the volume slightly higher is the sound you get when you unlock the trophies. In that regard the game is a very lazy port. The game isn’t exactly expensive, but having said so, there are games in its price range that do have voice acting or a soundtrack that doesn’t sound repetitive 10% into the game.
Geki Yaba Runner is a 2D action/adventure platformer. Your character propels himself to the finish line and all you have to do is make sure he doesn’t stumble over obstacles, into trees, walls or down holes. The controls are very simple. The X button lets your character jump and the arrow keys let you turn into the right gnome for the job, once you’ve unlocked them that is. Mind you, they don’t work retrospectively. They only work from the level they are unlocked upon until the last level of the game. So the first power you’ll unlock is the power to tear down trees with your demon horns and ignore the power of whirlwinds. Unlocking it is done in level 20, you can’t use the power up for the levels before that. Not that you’d ever need to. The game only sets you challenges you’ll be able to solve with the powers at your disposal.
So with only 5 buttons to work with, you’d think the game is easy. Think again. Geki Yaba Runner can be very, very unforgiving and is very much a twitchy game. You’ll be forced to make split second switches between power ups if you want to make it past the later levels and with more powers added onto the mix things go from easy to consolebreakingly frustrating really fast. Even early on, getting the highest score for the levels is very challenging and doing it for the later levels is near impossible. At one point you’ll have to use your powers to drop down because a whirlwind is blocking your way, but you’ll have to press X right as you are past it to float over some very pointy thorns and up a wind-stream. Or even better yet, going from floating to ground-stomping because there’s a tree in the way, right after some spikes, leaving you with only a nanosecond to press the right buttons.
Because of all of the frustrating twitchplay, you’d think the game has no merit to even install it, nothing could be further from the truth however. There’s a very odd sense of accomplishment once you race past the point that’s nearly made you throw your -now discontinued- PlayStation Vita against the wall. As such it can easily eat up more time than you thought possible.
Geki Yaba Runner is a game that has ‘just five more minutes’ gameplay, but could end up costing you an hour, with you trying to finish or complete a level. If you are looking for a game you can pick up and just play or something you really need to focus on to get anywhere in the game, then this is something for you. If you don’t like your 2D platformers fast and with a brutally steep difficulty curve, then you’d best leave this one on the wayside.