Temple Run Comics Review
The story behind Temple Run brought to life on your iPhone and iPad
A husband and wife from North Carolina quitting their day jobs to follow their dreams sounds like the premise for a Hollywood movie. If I told you their dream was to create a running game for the iPhone, in which you endlessly traverse a maze-like temple trying to escape a legion of evil monkeys, you might look at me incredulously. But truth is stranger than fiction, and this is what happened.
Keith Shepherd and his wife Natalia Luckyanova created Temple Run, and it became a viral sensation, number one in both the Top Free and Top Grossing charts on the App Store in January 2012. The release of an Android version quickly reached over 50 million downloads. Disney even asked them to make a spin- off tying in with the movie Brave.
With a reported 750,000 downloads a day, Temple Run quickly became a triumph and the fans were crying out for more. Imangi Studios looked at Rovio’s success at turning Angry Birds into a household name and decided they wanted this too. “There’s going to be Temple Run apparel in the malls, plush toys,” Shepherd told Edge last summer, “and there’s a board game and card game coming out for Christmas.” There would also be a comic.
Temple Run Comics is a collaboration with Ape Entertainment, who already has experience adapting other mobile games, making the successful Cut the Rope Comic. Their comic adaptation of Pocket God also recently sold over a million copies digitally. But how does a game without a story line – or even levels – work as a comic book?
Writer Andy Cagan and artist Ben Lichius have naturally taken cues from the game, centring it on Guy Dangerous, the game’s default character, and establishing an elaborate mystery around the Golden Idol that he steals in the opening scenes of the game. Other familiar faces appear, principally Scarlett Fox and a photo in a journal of Francisco Montoya, additional characters that you unlock by earning golden coins in the game. Beyond this, Temple Run Comics is an entirely original story to behold.
Well, we say original, but perhaps the one fact Temple Run Comics can’t escape is its resemblance to the Indiana Jones films. The game was essentially an extended version of the rolling boulder scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark anyway, but fleshed out with a story about a smart-aleck adventurous archaeologist on a quest for a mysterious ancient artefact, the line between homage and imitation begins to blur. Then again, these first two issues establish a lot of plot lines, including the disappearance of one Gail Van Horn, the history between Dangerous and Scarlett Fox, and the myths of the Golden Idol. This could potentially – and may well – weave a very unique narrative of its own in issues to come.
The app artwork itself looks great, full of colour and vivid texturing. Undoubtedly this is aided by the fact the app supports Retina display, and is optimised in landscape view so you can see every inch of each page in detail. However, as Temple Run Comics is also being sold as a print edition in US comic book stores, the digital edition doesn’t seek to offer much in the way of multimedia storytelling.
This seems like a missed opportunity, not to incorporate some interactivity into the story, whether it was just the game’s soundtrack and other sound effects, or perhaps the occasional mini-game to link between the issues. However, if you’re looking for a more traditional route to comics, you can search out the closest physical store to you from within the app and grab a print copy.
This spin-off offers an intriguing story, but it’s a shame more thought wasn’t put into its digital delivery.
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