If you want to know how popular auto-runners are right now, just check out the stats for Android newbie Manuganu. (Oh, and have a read of this, too, of course.)
One tiny Turkish team has developed and published Manuganu, which has racked up more than a 1 million downloads on Google Play.
Yet the game itself is only one notch above 'average', in truth, with the ability to actually stop the main protagonist in his tracks the game's sole USP.
You see, there are difficulty spikes here that figuratively pierce the skin more than they should, while the in-game ads are pretty distracting (unless you, smartly, turn your internet connection off).
Still, with a zero pence price tag and some swish Cordy-like visuals, is it worth taking a punt on? Can EVERY single one of those 1 million downloaders be wrong? Let's find out...Coin-up
There's no story in Manuganu, as such. Just an overall sort of tribal theme. So, yep, the game's trio of 2.5D worlds are made up of the obligatory green hills, icescapes, and hazard-filled caverns. Saying that, the backgrounds are rather sumptuous, and the titular hero's animations are buttery smooth.
Because of its simple, generous level design, the opening world feels a lot like a welcome mat that has been rolled out by the dev for you to bounce on and collect coins across.
Manuganu keeps merrily running from left to right (and, occasionally, the other way... for added spice), and leaps whenever you tap the 'up' arrow icon.
Pretty darn soon, the little chap will encounter some heavy swinging mallets that will splat him if you just keep moving. This is where the game's aforementioned standout mechanic, "Halting", comes into play.
By touching a button on the left, Manuganu will slow to an (almost) immediate stop - or "Halt", if you will - and only move when you tap it again. This momentum-killing mechanic appears innocent enough at first, but it's really setting up some of the brutally tough timing challenges of the later levels.On ice
By the time you're wall-jumping up icy caverns, grabbing onto ropes, and deftly leaping between sharp-toothed enemies, Manuganu's playful opening stages seem like a distant memory.
Rote learning precise non-lethal routes through the brief levels isn't enough to get by, either, as you need to earn up to three stars during each stage to make proper progress. By completing tricky challenges - like not losing one of your trio of lives - you accumulate the requisite stars to move onto the next level.
There are only 30 stages in the game, yet unlocking the final ten proved a Herculean task for this reviewer. I had to grind through earlier levels over and again to acquire sufficient stars.
Plus, the further you get into Manuganu, the more imprecise and unrefined the platforming seems to be. Getting nixed by the off-screen moving platforms is a frustratingly regular way to die, for example.
Obviously, this is no Rayman Jungle Run, but those looking for a quick, free bounce-'em-up may get some mileage out of Manuganu's sweet looks. Provided they can live with those rough edges, though.