I love this time of year. I’m always reminded of the gifts of love, forgiveness, along with the people in my life. I can’t get them out of debt, or solve their complex problems, but I can try to give them a few moments of joy. So seeing how we’re mostly fans of gaming, I nab a bunch of stuff during Valve’s annual sales for my gift giving inventory. Often times I’ll use Steam Wallet cards to do this, since I’m not a big fan of interest fees.
Anyway, often times those cards leave nickels, dimes, and pennies in the wallet at the end. “What to do with forty-one cents?” I ask myself. Usually the answer is to just leave it there, until I want to buy something else. But this year, sorting the game list from cheapest game to highest price game revealed a really fun, and interesting title. One trading card sale later, I had enough coins to dive in.
PROS: Probably the best endless runner this side of Robot Unicorn Attack.
CONS: Intrusive Unity pop ups need to be toggled off.
WHAT?: There is an unlockable penguin who is seemingly useless.
On its surface Turbo Pug is little more than a cobbled together Robot Unicorn Attack clone. Since Adult Swim’s flash game, there have been countless endless runners. Some, like Bit Trip Runner, have been great, adding their own spin to the formula. Others like Meme Run have had mixed reaction to say the least.
But Turbo Pug is actually one of the best endless runners you’ll probably ever play. Not only is it as addictive as Robot Unicorn Attack. Not only is it as fun as the Bit Trip series. It is oozing with charm. Turbo Pug puts you in the role of a pet pug running through randomized environments for points. There is a jump button, and that is pretty much it. All you need to do is time your jumps accordingly to avoid pits, lava, and more.
The longer you go, the more dangerous the traps become. By the time you get around 2,000 points or more you’ll begin to see spikes, buzz saws, and other nefarious plots to kill you. You can also find spinning pug coins that will give you 50 or 100 points depending on what axis they are on when you land on them.
But Turbo Pug goes even farther than that. It has a real time, day, and night cycle. Over the course of a few minutes you will see the sun set, the moon rise, and the sun come up again. It also has weather cycles. At any given time the game will decide to rain or snow. When it rains, there is also the odd chance that your pug will be struck by lightning. If this happens you won’t be able to jump for a few seconds. But you also won’t fall from your current height until the sting is over.
“Wow!” you might exclaim.”That sounds pretty deep for what could pass for a cell phone time waster.” But at the risk of sounding like a game show announcer, that isn’t all. Turbo Pug also has a multitude of unlockable characters. Each character has its own properties, that may or may not help you in your quest for a high score. Super pug has a cape, and a double jump. Pumpkin pug has a light that comes on during night cycles. The penguin is slow, and will probably fall to his doom rather quickly.
Turbo Pug also scratches your retro itch with its Amiga like sprites. The game looks like a 16-bit computer game through, and through. It has a great color palette, and the sprite art has a lot of great detail. The end result is beyond cute, and adorable. The audio really only features two songs, and some small sound effects. But the two songs are very catchy compositions that combine the soft rock sound of lite-FM, and Atari 2600 era chip tunes.
The only real problems with Turbo Pug, are the intrusive Unity tool tips that come up the first time you play. You’ll want to disable them right away. Aside from that, while the game does engage in Valve’s Steam Trading Card program pretty well, it doesn’t have achievements. It seems like a game that would take advantage of achievements well, but they’re nowhere to be seen. There is a high score leaderboard though to motivate you to keep shooting for the stars.
I highly recommend Turbo Pug. It could have easily indeed been a quickly churned out piece of shovelware. But it isn’t. There is a lot of effort on display for such a simple game. It’s engaging too. It will easily make you lose an afternoon to its cute protagonist, challenging jumping puzzles, and soft music if you allow it to. Let your actual pug have a well deserved nap, and fire up some Turbo Pug.
Final Score: 8 out of 10