What exactly do you call the genre of game in which a character is infinitely running around from his doom, with gaps and obstacles littering his path?
Infinite-running games? Runaway games? Sidewards-dashing games? Whatever its official name, there have been a whole load of them on smartphones over the past couple of years, with Canabalt arguably acting as the breakout hit.
rComplex is another one of these endless-runner types, due for release on iPhone later this month, and on Android shortly after. However, it's not entirely new - in fact, the concept has been around since 2009.
Case in point
"The original freeware rComplex really was little more than a tech demo," Roger Hicks, of rComplex's dev team Event Games, says. "It can be played through in about three minutes, and did little more than showcase an idea: it was always meant to be expanded, and completed."
That's exactly what the team has done with this upcoming version. So, what exactly is rComplex, and what makes it special?
"rComplex is an action game that uses the familiar 'endless-runner' mechanic to deliver a tense, atmospheric story," Hicks continues.
"It will engage your reflexes with its obstacles; test your ability to think on your feet as you make use of your limited ammunition; and deliver a unique look and dramatic story at the same time."
Sounds promising. However, things weren't looking too good for rComplex early last year, when a Kickstarter campaign for the smartphone version failed to drum up the funds needed to get the game's development underway.
Fortunately, indie publisher InterWave Studios was quick to step in and help secure the game's future.
"InterWave approached us just as the Kickstarter campaign was winding down," Hicks says. "It saw the potential in rComplex, and offered support whether the campaign was going to succeed or not."
"With its backing, we were able to start work on rComplex in earnest even before the Kickstarter campaign failed. Without its support, we were still bent on remaking the game, but it would have taken much longer as both Brian [Terwilliger] and I would have been forced to take on paying jobs to fund rComplex."
Why, then, did the duo decide to take what was originally a freeware PC title and move it onto smartphone?
"Because of the format and controls, rComplex felt naturally at home on mobile devices," Hicks explains. "We know that control systems are the bane of most mobile games, but in our case the simple jump / dodge / shoot mechanics could be easily translated to swipes and well-placed taps."
The game has been built using the popular Unity3D engine, despite being a 2D game. Nevertheless, Hicks is full of praise for the engine, and explains exactly why his team decided to go with it for rComplex's development.
"2.5D games are becoming increasingly popular, from Bionic Commando Rearmed to Ghosts'N Goblins: Gold Knights 2 on iOS devices," he notes. "It's a tremendous combination that allows the ease of play and familiar controls of 2D games, but with the visual impact of 3D models, cameras, and effects."
"rComplex is not the first 2D, fixed perspective game I've developed: both Stream and Project I/O were made in Unity, and they both feature 2D gameplay, with 3D effects and graphics."
Hicks concludes: "Unity3D has really proved to be pretty beneficial to 2D games, as its tremendous flexibility allows users to code any kind of experience up to and including fixed perspective 2D, and its powerful rendering engine and feature set allow for the use of 3D models and effects effortlessly."
You'll find rComplex in the App Store later this month, with Android and Windows Phone versions due for release at a later date.
Check out the trailer to see how it looks in motion.