Every so often, a small indie gem comes along that blows gamers out of the water with its surprising polish, addictive gameplay, wonderful sense of presentation and intelligent design. Ninja Pig Studios' Meme Run is not one of those games. In fact, Meme Run may be one of the worst releases on any gaming platform this year. A cynical and smug piece of software that seems to think it's some sort of "smart" response to the glut of amateurish download titles that have been released on the Wii U eShop this year, Meme Run instead seems to scream, "look how awful this game I made is! Isn't that hilarious? Guys? Why aren't you laughing?!"
Meme Run is an endless runner in which players guide a stick figure with a large "troll face" head through a randomly generated course, jumping and sliding through obstacles. As the player runs further, "swag points" are accumulated and can multiply as certain items are collected, while picking up other objects results in the screen shaking, "wombo combo" screams penetrating your eardrums and other ridiculous effects. The goal of Meme Run is to get a high score, and it encourages you to post to Miiverse — if anyone feels brave enough to admit to Miiverse that they've played this awful title, that is.
Everything in Meme Run is disorientating and unpleasant. Upon booting up the game you'll hear the "wombo combo" shout, which is apparently a famous Smash Bros.-related meme in which a bunch of guys went nuts on YouTube after a surprising combo was pulled off. This goes on for far too long — we scrambled to turn down the volume; the wombo combo yell returns far too often throughout Meme Run. The troll face character runs on "meme face" tiles, with flashing frogs serving as the background. Along the way you'll encounter dollar bills, horns, giant faces chasing you and more. If there's anything to laugh at or appreciate in Meme Run, it will go unnoticed since the screen shakes so much. The controls — which should be simple, considering all the player does is slide and jump — seldom work correctly, with the troll face only occasionally jumping when prompted and only sliding when it feels like it.
The Ninja Pig logo that appears on the title screen is the most polished object in the entire game, and that's a problem. It's one thing to make a game that celebrates and/or makes fun of wacky internet memes, but Meme Run clumsily misses its mark. At a launch price of $5USD, players are bound to feel cheated and scammed. Ninja Pig Studios can't expect every gamer to be "in on the joke"; someone may buy Meme Run looking for a fun experience and be shocked to find what is essentially a bad joke on infinite loop.
With releases like Meme Run, Nintendo needs to start taking a hard look at its eShop policies on the Wii U. This is a game that simply should not have been released, and certainly not for its outlandish asking price. There is no reason to purchase Meme Run — not for a laugh, not for a good time, not for anything. Stay away from this miserable game and spend your hard-earned money and time elsewhere.