Endless Running Game
A genre of video games in which the player must dodge obstacles as they automatically and continuously scroll onto the screen, with the simple goal of not crashing into anything for as long as possible. When these games offer any sort of context
as to why the player character can't slow down or stop, it's usually framed as an Escape Sequence
A game in this genre is essentially one big Auto-Scrolling Level
. In most cases the player character's position is fixed in the dimension in which the playfield scrolls, and the player controls movement in the other dimension(s). For example, in a 2D game with the screen constantly scrolling right, the player character doesn't move left or right and instead stays towards the left side of the screen, with the player controlling up-and-down movement only. The fixed scrolling typically leads to Difficulty by Acceleration
. Furthermore, every run entails a sequence of randomly generated obstacles
, so the player must rely on sheer reflexes and more than a little luck.
By design these games are Endless Games
; the player never actually "wins", and instead the long-term goal is simply to earn a better high score
. Many of these games also let the player collect virtual currency during each run, offering enhancements (consumable or permanent) that improve chances of a better score during the next run.
Most games in this genre are Web Games
or Mobile Phone Games
. Some started on one platform and expanded to the other through porting.
Compare Failure Is the Only Option
. See also Ratchet Scrolling
, where the player can backtrack only a very short distance, if at all. When a Platform Game
adopts this kind of gameplay for a level, it's often Minecart Madness
- Agent Dash, in which a spy infiltrates secret bases by navigating traps at top speed.
- Balloon Trip mode in Balloon Fight is about dodging in an endless, fixed-scrolling level, though the player can move freely in both dimensions.
- Bam Bam Dash is a side-scrolling platformer starring a cartoon caveman.
- Buddy & Me has an expy of Falkor from The NeverEnding Story flying along beside you and helping you out as you run along.
- Canabalt is one of the more popular contemporary examples.
- Cave Runner and its 3D version involve collecting coins while avoiding monsters and obstacles.
- Chop Chop Runner — as a cartoon ninja out to save a princess, you must "Run, Jump, Fight!"
- Cookie Run is this, which has multiple gamechanging variants such as character choices, pet abilities, and equipment, to name a few.
- Cube Runner is a web and mobile game with a third-person perspective and a triangular craft avoiding cubes in alternating random and organized patterns.
- Falling Fred and sequel Super Falling Fred, which are about endless vertical freefall through blades, spikes, and other deadly obstacles.
- Fast Food on the Atari 2600. Move to catch the food as it flies by — but dodge the purple pickles.
- Fear Less involves a small girl fighting monsters and jumping over obstacles while trying to escape the Grim Reaper.
- Flappy Bird is one of the most challenging examples in terms of how long the average run lasts.
- Good Dogs, where you play as a dog running through a park collecting bones.
- Google Chrome has one as an Easter Egg in the "this page cannot be reached" error screen — click the little raptor and press the spacebar.
- Gotta Protectors: Amazon's Running Diet, in which players play as the Amazon from Gotta Protectors exercising by running through the plains collecting cups of water while avoid pieces of cake. Made in celebration of the series' third anniversary.
- Gravity Guy is about navigating block platforms with the power of reversing gravity.
- Grim Joggers, in which a queue of joggers jumps past spikes, bears, aliens, bombs, and other nasty things in a ghoulish wasteland.
- Helicopter Game or Helicopter Flash Games is likely the modern archetype of this genre. Ascend and descend to dodge the green walls, and that's all you have to do.
- I Must Run! I have only 24 hours to escape prison and rescue my wife!
- Into the Dead is a rare first-person example. Weave left and right past endless zombie hordes — and occasionally shoot them out of your way.
- Jetpack Joyride subverts this by having an unavoidable trap at 30,000 meters.
- The infamous Meme Run on the Wii U. The gameplay was on par with circa-2007 flash browser games, and the art design was a mashup of what you would find on r/montageparodies. As far as we can tell it was a Stylistic Suck test to see what kind of material would get through Nintendo's certification process (it stayed on the store for about three months before getting removed for copyright violations).
- Mirror's Edge on iOS platforms features this type of gameplay.
- Monster Dash — run through scenic locales and blast the stock movie monsters that call those places home.
- One Epic Knight has almost as much of smashing obstacles as avoiding them!
- Pitfall has a mobile game with this style of gameplay.
- Race the Sun — A third-person variant at intensely-high speed, with the sunset serving as the player's timer.
- Robot Unicorn Attack gives you three attempts and then awards you a final score.
- Run Like Hell! Otherwise the cannibal island natives will catch you!
- Run 'n' Gun inverts the typical "escape" scenario by having the player character chasing monsters.
- SkiFree: Ski down an endless Obstacle Ski Course until the player get bored or are eaten by the yeti.
- Ski Safari — race down a snowy mountainside to stay one step ahead of the avalanche that struck your cabin.
- Sonic Dash and Sonic Runners, starring Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Subway Surfers brings the player to various world locales, but it's the same mustached cop and his dog chasing you down for spraying graffiti.
- Super Hexagon and its predecessor Hexagon, in a looser sense. You aren't running in a particular direction — rather, you move around a central object and dodge converging walls — but the gameplay concept is largely the same. Basically, picture an ERG, but with polar coordinates and wrap-around.
- The PETA parody Super Tanooki Skin 2D subverts this in that there is a win state, but it's still an infinite obstacle course until you accomplish the objective.
- Temple Run, including Temple Run 2 and Temple Run: Brave — escape from the Temple of Doom with your stolen idol.
- 10,000,000 combines this with RPG elements and Match Three Gameplay.
- TheEndApp — collect rolls of duct tape throughout a post-apocalyptic cityscape.
- Tiny Wings mixes its 'running' with flying, as gameplay involves timing your movements (glides and dives) to match the terrain below you so you can build up speed and momentum.
- Tomena Sanner starts out with three sets of traditional levels, but then features an endless mode where you just run as far as possible.
- Trigger Knight combines this with RPG Elements — instead of dodging obstacles you fight monsters and buy gear as your character charges past shops.
- You Must Build A Boat: The sequel to 10,000,000.
- Vector: Set in a post-cyberpunk world with silhouetted graphics. Its sequel features a story that progresses with each completed objective.
- Whale Trail stars Willow the Whale, who escapes from the ocean on a rainbow bridge and must fly through swarms of grumpy storm clouds.
- In Yoshi Touch & Go, the "Marathon" and "Challenge" modes are endless, though slower paced than most examples since the game is designed around higher obstacle density and indirect control over the player character.
- Spider-Man Unlimited is a running game starring Loads and Loads of Characters from Spider-Man.
- Worm is the earliest Ur-Example we could find.