Shaolin Jump
| Shaolin Jump

Every gamer has on occasion thought that he'd make a good developer.

My own erroneous epiphany came during my first few cracks at Canabalt. So simple was the approach of what many would call the first true endless runner that it was logical to think the whole thing was a straightforward affair, easy for others to replicate or even expand on.

Any lingering ambitions I had to take on Semi Secret Software's smash, however, have been firmly put to bed by Shaolin Jump: a game that makes the mistake of stretching the Canabalt model way too far, turning said simplicity into abject boredom.

Moving on up

Shaolin Jump is initially a distinctive take on the endless runner, if only because it takes you with heading skyward rather then simply streaming from left to right.

Split over four levels, the game involves running up walls on either side of the screen, leaping from left to right in order to avoid objects.

'5' is the only key you ever need to press, with everything from flag poles to bolts of lightning hampering your progress.

While it's not Game Over should you run into said obstacles just once or twice, a succession of hits will result in your demise – a rising tide in Shaolin Jump's first level, for example, drowns you if it catches you up.

Interestingly, Shaolin Jump also breaks the mould by planting set goals within its stages.

While beating your own highscore is always an aim, unlocking the following level relies on you reaching a set height and picking up the stage's ancient relic – less of a trophy, in reality, and more of a key.

Doing so not only relies on your ability to jump at the right time, but also to pick up a succession of dragon scrolls as you go, which – in groups of six – temporarily unlock a power-up, letting you either streak ahead or pick up invincibility for a period.

One way street

Shaolin Jump's main problem is that its simplicity means – on paper – it's far too easy just to run on forever. Unlike the likes of Jetpack Joyride or Whale Trail, there's only one route on offer, making Shaolin Jump a case of just jumping when prompted.

To halt your progress, the game starts breaking the rules and being blatantly unfair. Objects start to become so packed that it's virtually impossible to avoid running into them one after another.

Even in the opening stage, lightning will often strike you when you're airborne, leaving you defenceless as Shaolin Jump unjustly cuts you down mid-flight.

Not that many will be all too dismayed when play comes to an unexpected end.

Shaolin Jump has all the hallmarks of a first stab at a genre, rather than a measured take on it. While it surpasses the likes of Canabalt in terms of sheer length, the level of entertainment it serves up in the process sadly falls far short.

Shaolin Jump

Extending the Canabalt model a touch too far, Shaolin Jump is a perfectly playable endless-runner, but it's ultimately too dry and straightforward to make a mark