There are ways to make great auto-runners. Look at Canabalt, a game as old as time, and yet one that remains a classic because of its simple nature and magnificent gameplay.
But not all auto-runners are born equal. And Scrap, an auto-runner about a tiny robot, is a striking example of how not to make this kind of game.
It's frustrating, slow-paced, and overall quite dull. And while it's challenge can sometimes be entertaining, the overall package simply isn't.
Off to the heapScrap sees a small robot awake on an assembly line and decide to break free. So he does. There's your story.
You join this little robot as he runs, automatically, and you decide when he should jump up or fall down to avoid obstacles.
You jump with A and fall with B, and you can hold B to keep falling if you need to make a rapid descent.
The simple controls are countered by the difficulty of the levels you're faced with, which are full of spinning saws, laser beams, evil robots, and plenty of other nasties.
Things get fairly tough from the get go, no doubt because, at just 30 levels long, Scrap doesn't have a whole lot of content and needs to stop you from blazing through all of it somehow.
Scrapheap challengeThe main problem is that the levels are designed largely with pixel-perfect jumping in mind, meaning you need to learn the exact points to jump or fall to get anywhere near the end.
That's all well and good, but in a game where you can't slow your speed and or adjust your direction, it means that you'll usually trial-and-error your way through each section until you hit the next checkpoint and begin the process over again.
Committing each timing to memory could be a fun challenge of its own, but there's a loading screen after each death that's a fraction of a second too long and totally ruins the flow of the game when it inevitably pops up.
You're also regularly required to let yourself fall a little into a game-over abyss before jumping to avoid obstacles overhead, which would also be fine if the cut-off point for deaths wasn't an incredibly fine line that catches you out nine times out of ten.
There are power-ups you can grab to help you out, but these are usually placed in such a way that they're impossible to miss, and they're usually a huge annoyance due to how unpredictable they make the already annoying controls.
Into the abyssAre there any redeeming factors? I mean, if you like tough games, then you'll probably enjoy getting your arse handed to you by a pixel-width gap you missed for ten minutes. But otherwise, no.
Scrap just doesn't seem to grasp what makes auto-running fun. Its levels are designed such that any deviance from a specific route usually leads to instant death, leaving no room for experimentation, and therefore no brilliant moments of scraping your way to the finish line in a blaze of glory.Click here to get the latest takes on the hottest new releases in our reviews section