These days, matching and bubble popping games are a dime a dozen. They’re all pretty much the same. So when I decided to try RuniK, I already had an opinion of the game before I even installed it. Fortunately, my snap judgment was way off base. RuniK is one of those rare games that gets everything mostly right, and keeps you coming back for more.
The basic goal of the game is to try to clear the screen of runes by selecting and removing adjacent runes of the same color. The bigger the number of runes you manage to remove in one go, the more points you earn. Removing runes is as simple as tapping once to select the group, then tapping again to remove.
If there are no more moves, the remaining runes on the board get frozen and cannot be removed. The game board then fills up again with more runes, and it starts over again.
Most games would stop there. But RuniK takes it further by filling in the six special runes at the bottom of the screen as you successfully clear runes from the top. So, for example, if you remove a large group of green runes from the top, a portion of the corresponding rune at the bottom would get filled in. Once a special rune gets completely colored in, it becomes a “Super-Rune”.
A Super-Rune has two abilities. One, it increases the number of points earned when runes of the same color are removed from the top. Two, if you get into a jam you can click on a Super-Rune and it automatically removes all runes of the same color from the board. This can save your butt when you get into a tight spot.
So the idea is to fill in as many super runes as you can to maximize your points, but if the screen gets too full, you can cash in the Super-Runes to help clear the board. In the screenshot below, you will notice that the green rune on the bottom row is glowing, meaning that it is completely charged and has reached Super-Rune status. It is now ready to help generate more points, or sacrifice itself to remove all green runes (including any frozen green runes) at once if you need the help.
Sometimes, a bright and glowing “joker” rune will appear on the board. This rune acts as any adjacent color when you need it. Tap a red rune that is next to the joker rune, and both get selected. This comes in handy since you always have a move if a joker is present, and it can help link together groups of same-colored runes.
Another smart move from developers SoFresh Team was to add side challenges, similar to Xbox Live Achievements. These increase the longevity and replayability of the game. They add that “carrot-and-stick” element that keeps people coming back just to get that last achievement.
Some example challenges:
- The Pecker – Get more than 10,000 points in a single shot
- The Bursar – Get 5 different Super-Runes charged at the same time
- Hyper Combo – Get 20 runes in a single shot
- Bronze Medal – Reach 100,000 points
Double Your Pleasure
If you happen to be good enough to completely clear a screen of runes (trust me, it’s difficult, though my wife seems to be really good at it), your final score when the game ends will get doubled. Clearing a screen is also one of the challenges mentioned above.
Your final score is compared to other player scores in the high scores section. Here, you can see just how pathetic you are at RuniK. But that only serves to motivate you further to reach higher and higher scores. You can also add anyone to your buddy list if you want to follow certain players.
Once the entire screen is filled with non-removable runes, the game is over. So when you’re coming down to the wire, be sure to start using your Super-Runes to help clear up some space. Inevitably, though, the game will end.
No worries, though, since all you’re going to want to do after losing is start over and play again!
RuniK is one of those rare games that is just enough of a challenge to keep you interested, but not overly difficult to frustrate you. It’s the first “bubble matching game” that I have played that has remained on my phone (and tablet), and gets installed on any new devices. The background music also sets a chill mood and doesn’t detract from gameplay.
The developer is very friendly and responsive. When I first installed RuniK on my Xoom tablet, it had layout issues, but after contacting the dev, he quickly updated the app and sent me an email when it was ready. You can’t ask for better service than that!
RuniK is free in the Android Market, supported by ads that are unobtrusive to gameplay. So what are you waiting for? Click the market link below (or scan the QR code) and start collecting runes today!