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Endless Running Game

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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.

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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.


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Examples:

  • 10,000,000 combines this with RPG elements and Match Three Gameplay.
  • Agent Dash (link here), in which a spy infiltrates secret bases by navigating traps at top speed.
  • Alto's Adventure is an endless snowboarding game.
  • 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.
  • Banana Kong is about a gorilla named Kong who runs and swims around looking for bananas,
  • The gameplay of the console versions of Ben 10: Omniverse 2 mostly consists of this.
  • Although the main acts of Bendy in Nightmare Run can be won by defeating the boss, the Nightmare levels are these.
  • Buddy & Me has an expy of Falkor from The NeverEnding Story flying along beside you and helping you out as you run along.
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  • 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 (link here) — 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.
  • Corridor Z is set in a zombie-infested High School and involves a jock, a cheerleader, and a soldier running down hallways pursued by undead.
  • Crash Bandicoot: On the Run is one of these that is currently in a soft-launch state and is only available in select countries, such as Canada and Malaysia.
  • 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.
  • Double Pug Switch has you controlling a pug who's always running forward. You can make him avoid obstacles by jumping and swapping between dimensions.
  • Edge Surf, which is similar to SkiFree but there's a squid chasing you and you're surfing down an endless sea.
  • Epic Coaster, which is about a rollercoaster jumping through endless platforms.
  • Falling Fred (link here) 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 (link here), 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 (link here) is about navigating block platforms with the power of reversing gravity.
  • Grim Joggers (link here), in which a queue of joggers jumps past spikes, bears, aliens, bombs, and other nasty things in a ghoulish wasteland.
  • Helicopter Game (link here) or Helicopter Flash Games (link here) 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! (link here) I have only 24 hours to escape prison and rescue my wife!
  • Into the Dead (link here) is a rare first-person example. Weave left and right past endless zombie hordes — and occasionally shoot them out of your way.
  • Jetpack Joyride is billed as one, but does have a trap at 30,000 meters that takes some planning to avoid.
  • 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: The iOS Game features this type of gameplay.
  • Monster Dash — run through scenic locales and blast the stock movie monsters that call those places home.
  • Muse Dash combines this genre with the Rhythm Game as enemies are defeated, projectile attacks from bosses are deflected, and obstacles are dodged to the beat of the music. Unlike most other examples, the gameplay is not endless, but tied to the length of the songs.
  • Nohzdyve simple falling and collecting points game.
  • One Epic Knight (link here) 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.
  • Redungeon - a top-down game with procedurally generated levels that doesn't auto-scroll, but will have monsters automatically catch up to the player if they spend too long on a screen without advancing.
  • Road Runner - an arcade game based on the iconic series of Looney Tunes cartoons.
  • Robot Unicorn Attack gives you three attempts and then awards you a final score.
  • Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari, from the same publishers as Crossy Road.
  • Run - a variant combined with Gravity Screw. In space.
  • Run, Elephant, Run! (link here): the elephant from This Is the Only Level and Achievement Unlocked trying to run from Hollywood back to Africa.
  • Run Forrest Run: Forrest Gump on his morning run.
  • Run Like Hell! (link here) Otherwise the cannibal island natives will catch you!
  • Run 'n' Gun inverts the typical "escape" scenario by having the player character chasing monsters.
  • Run Sackboy! Run! is a game for mobile and PlayStation Vita starring the hero of LittleBigPlanet.
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts - a story-driven Rhythm Game where the heroine is generally riding motorcycles, but can also be engaged in other kinds of high-speed chases that all function similarly.
  • SkiFree: Ski down an endless Obstacle Ski Course until the player get bored or are eaten by the yeti.
  • Ski Safari (link here) — 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.
  • Spider-Man Unlimited is a running game starring Loads and Loads of Characters from Spider-Man.
  • 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.
  • Techno Kitten Adventure is best known for its tendency to flood the screen with the ridiculous number of flashing lights.
  • Temple Run, including Temple Run 2 and Temple Run: Brave — escape from the Temple of Doom with your stolen idol.
  • TheEndApp — collect rolls of duct tape throughout a post-apocalyptic cityscape.
  • Thumper is a higher-end, Rhythm Game variation of the genre.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Worm (link here) is the earliest Ur-Example we could find.
  • 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.
  • You Must Build A Boat: The sequel to 10,000,000.

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