MANILA, Philippines – Dodging cars and buses and jumping over obstacles in the streets of Manila are not just real life occurrences but also the challenge of a new game called Manila Rush.
Developed by Filipino gaming house Anino Games and game publisher Alamat Interactive, Manila Rush is a Subway Surfer or Temple Run style game that makes you run through the highways of Manila collecting coins and trying to go the distance without crashing into obstacles.
Miguel, the main character of the game, needs your help as he races through Manila traffic to get to work on time. Armed with magical ﬂip-ﬂops, he jumps and swerves to avoid cars, buses and other obstacles lining Manila’s highway, all the while collecting coins and power-ups such as Agila Energy Drink, Score Booster and the Piggy Bank Coin Magnet. Like on EDSA you’ll run into the occasional mad driver swerving to another lane or a collision that will block your entire path.
One of the biggest assets of the game is its simplicity. It’s simple enough for most kids (and adults) to quickly grasp, but challenging enough for you to want to try again and beat your high score.
The graphics and animation are good. There’s no doubt this is EDSA with billboards, a familiar budget hotel, neon overpass crosswalks, and worn out asphalt. The background music is also catchy without being obtrusive, sound effects are also very realistic with honking jeepneys, the passing MRT and the occasional drilling.
Best of all the game is free to download and play. Like the growing trend, the game makes its revenues via in-app purchases. One thing unique though is that Anino Games has partnered with Globe Labs to provide in-app purchases using prepaid credits or charging it to your postpaid bill.
Simplicity however is also a double-edged sword.
A game can be too simple that after a while it loses its appeal. Flappy Bird was very simple but it was frustratingly simple that it pushed you to addiction. Manila Rush just doesn’t have that. I remember playing Temple Run and being addicted to it for a while. Temple Run though had you going left, right, up, down plus there was a monster chasing you. Manila Rush still lacks well… the rush.
The problem with games that rely on in-app purchases for revenue is getting the right balance of giving people enough free play but getting them hooked so they don’t mind paying to get them further in the game. I admit I plunked down a few bucks on Candy Crush. Why? They hooked me enough it was worth paying $0.99 just to continue playing on.
I was irritated that Manila Rush only gave me one life. Crash once and you have to start all over. You have the option to revive by purchasing hearts but each one is 2500 coins – P10 is you buy just one life, and as cheap as P5 if you buy in increments of P100. Not giving you 3 lives is perhaps their way of getting you to spend money.
The Bright Side
While at its current state Manila Rush doesn’t have what it takes to be hugely successful, it does have potential.
It’s refreshing to see more and more games come out of the Filipino gaming industry, something we should really develop and cultivate. Not just games sub-contracted to local developers by international companies but homegrown titles that we can push globally.
The big thing for me here is seeing companies like Anino Games trying to push forward. They’re putting themselves out there and publishing their own games. That in itself is reason enough for me to try and support them.