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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Populus Run is an action game exclusively for Apple Arcade. Players take on the role of a group of runners moving through an environment while dodging obstacles made of food. There's a limited set of controls on the screen to move runners, although the herd of runners tends to drift from one side to the other depending on the course. With the left and right buttons being very close to each other, it's very easy to accidentally drive your group into an obstacle, which can frustrate players. There's no inappropriate content to be found in the game. While characters do collide with fences, posts, or gigantic versions of desserts, no blood or gore's shown, and runners fade away when getting removed from the pack of runners.
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What’s It About?
POPULUS RUN is a somewhat unusual mission based running game, where you wind up controlling the movements of a pack of runners sprinting from the start to the finish line on a level. But instead of being chased by an enemy or trying to see who comes in first place, you're instead trying to keep the pack of runners together from the dangers of supersized snack food. As you leap over chasms or slide through pipes, you'll find yourself confronted with large macaroons, donuts, lollipops, and other snacks that threaten to rip runners from your group and derail their dietary goals. Some of these runners can be replaced by other people that are standing along your path, looking for a group to run with. There are also secrets to be uncovered, such as coins that can be collected and unique characters (made from fruits and veggies) that can be added to your runners. Completing enough goals unlocks a more challenging Hardcore mode, which tosses extra hazards your way. Eventually, you'll need to use your running and jumping skills to defeat boss characters, proving your group's strength over food. Can you conquer the food obstacles on your run?
Is It Any Good?
This action game surprises with its fast-paced play, its challenging courses, and its addictive soundtrack that you'll keep humming during each race. Populus Run is a quirky action title because you're sprinting from the start to the finish of a twisted, winding obstacle course featuring multiple paths with a group of runners that are clearly trying to get in some exercise. But unlike other games with monsters or traps, the hazards in this game are supersized desserts: lollipops, cupcakes, macaroons, and other sweets that threaten their cardio progress. Colliding with any object pulls runners from your group, but fortunately, replacements are scattered along the track waiting to take their place, and there's a generous set of checkpoints that ensures that you can regain progress if your crew is wiped out. At the end of each stage, you're evaluated based on the number of collectable coins, runners that crossed the finish line and secret characters you've gathered, which will unlock a hardcore mode that will test your reflexes and skills. It's all anchored by an incredibly catchy soundtrack and voice overs that will have you humming along and laughing on each level. Big round of applause for the designers here.
There aren't a lot of negatives, but they do stand out. For one thing, when you start to get more than ten runners, controlling all of them easily gets a bit harder to do with the onscreen controls. The runners tend to slide and bounce into objects more, pulling more runners away from your group. A controller makes things much easier to navigate. The other issue is the lack of levels. There's only twenty levels in the initial launch, without a sense of when new stages will be produced, so it's possible that you could go through the entire game over the course of a weekend, and spend other time hunting for extras. These issues aside, Populus Run is lots of fun, and an amusing way to spend an afternoon.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about perseveranvce. Why is it important to keep trying when you fail at accomplishing a mission in Populus Run? Can you apply these lessons to real-life tasks?
Were the developers of Populus Run trying to claim that exercise is good? Do you think they were claiming that sweets are bad? Or is it simply a light way to present the game's endless running action?
- Platform: Apple Arcade
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: FIFTYTWO
- Release date: January 29, 2021
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
- Last updated: March 12, 2021
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