When I've Got to Run! made its début this summer on Wii U eShop, we were not particularly impressed with the endless runner. An overly simplistic graphical presentation, a lack of replay value and the limited appeal of the genre on a home console were three of our biggest issues with the title — thankfully, all three have been remedied in one way or another for I've Got to Run! Complete Edition. It's not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but the portability and myriad improvements of this version make for a fun little on-the-go time-waster.
The most striking difference between the Complete Edition and its Wii U predecessor is in the presentation. Endless runners aren't the sort of games that benefit strongly from great graphics — after all, there is a significant amount of repetition involved — but the visual blandness of the original's 2D sprites and backgrounds made for a tiresome experience. Here, it's clear a dedicated effort has been made to inject some variety into what's on screen: the higher-quality backgrounds and platforms (now models rather than sprites, making a neat use of stereoscopic 3D), do a significant job of cutting down on the visual monotony. A particularly nice touch is that the platforms vary from environment to environment; in the city level, Roy the Marshmallow Boy will be hopping on steel girders and city rooftops, while in the kitchen stage he'll find himself running across rotating rolls of paper towels and spinning dishes.
Of course, it's not just Roy that's running this time around. As you play through the game's six modes you'll be able to unlock five more characters to take out for a jog. While two of them are just variations on Roy's marshmallow design, there are a few more that come straight out of other indie games on the Wii U and 3DS — we won't spoil them, but if you love indie games and browsing on the eShop, chances are you've seen these friendly faces around. It seems like a missed opportunity that all the characters appear to control identically, but it's still a great way to introduce some variety into the formula — the cameos are admittedly a fun way to show love to fellow indie developers on the scene.
As mentioned before, you can take your chosen runner through six modes — double the amount from the first game. Returning are Classic, Double, and Special. The first two are pretty self-explanatory; in Classic, you can only jump once, while in Double, you get a double-jump to vary your strategy slightly. Neither of these are exciting in the least, but the way Roy controls has been significantly improved — his jump is a lot less floaty and more reliable than before. Then there's Special, where there are items to collect that speed up and slow down your character — this can be chaotic fun, as the varying speeds require you to really pay attention to where you're going.
The three new modes this time around are Expert, Flip, and Flight. The least interesting of these is easily Flip, which is just a mirrored version of Double with the background from Classic. Expert gives you a double jump and cranks the speed all the way up to maximum, making for a frantic and fun experience. Flight is definitely a keeper too, requiring more of your attention than any of the other modes — you get a whopping eight jumps, but there's the added threat of dropping platforms and sawblades to dodge. Overall, the appeal of all the modes is still limited due to their simple nature, and only about half of them have significant replay value over the long term, but Complete Edition's new-found portability means that these little gems are perfect for when you've got a few minutes to burn on the go.
I've Got to Run! Complete Edition does exactly what it sets out to achieve — put forth a more complete version of the game that got its first shot on Wii U. The game seems much more at home on the 3DS, where portability allows its pick-up-and-play appeal to shine brighter; it's also improved heavily in the graphics department, with some nice use of stereoscopic 3D separating the foreground and background. On the negative side, it would have been nice to see each of the characters get their own variable controls, and it's a disappointment that only half the modes are fun. In addition, the price is arguably a bit steep for what you're getting — there are comparable experiences elsewhere for less — but this is an affectionately-designed improvement on its forerunner that's a good way to satisfy your time-waster itch.