My first impression of Rock Runners wasn't a great one. Although the idea of being a space miner sounded interesting, for some reason I just wasn't fully involved with the game's first level, Mine Mayhem. Each level seemed, upon first glance, a bit to similar to each other, and I predicted this game would be out of my head within 15 minutes. Thankfully, I was dead wrong.

Although Rock Runners failed to light my fire during the first several levels, it's a game that improves literally by the minute. You accrue points by completing the level in one piece, beating its respective time trial, and accomplishing a certain challenge that's laid out in that specific section. The increased currency allows you to purchase various equipment, with the most priceless addition being the power shield.

Although it's simply a one touch control title (tap your device to jump), there are numerous obstacles that make this endless runner tough to complete. Even if you're confident you can jump over green goo with your eyes closed, having a little protection from all that dangerous icky stuff can only help.

Shields, however, cost currency, so collecting a special boost gem that gives you extra energy to leap that extra inch is the most important tool. Without these boosts, your jumps will lack significant power, thereby lowering the chances of finishing a level. It's easy to spot the boosts from a mile away -- they're the different colored bad boys amidst a string of gems.

The game also brings a lot of physicality and action to an endless runner, making it a cut above your garden variety run and jump experience. Simply tapping your device won't cut it, as timing a jump is usually the difference between life and death. Although you receive three hearts for each level, it's way to easy to expend all those lives before reaching the finish line. For every good thing you achieve in the game, it may be accomplished at the expense of a failed goal which gives you zero points. Since I was focused in just surviving a certain zone, I did avoid taking serious damage but, due to my conservative game play,  my time trial was a disaster.

Space mining also affords a variety of machinery and gadgetry at your disposal. Want to swing on a blue laser like rope that seemingly comes out of nowhere? Check. Need a portal which will spit you into an entirely different path? No problem, Rock Runners has it. Need a plane to fly after you survive the goo and killer robots? You know the answer.

With a mammoth 140 levels to plow through, Rock Runners also excels at rewarding gamers for time served. With fifty two achievements available on Game Center, points are almost as plentiful as the zones one gets to traverse. Although there are just four stages (Mine Mayhem, Crazy Caverns, Shady Sewers, Drill Thrill), in the title, each section is a world unto itself. Take a look at the Crazy Caverns map -- each piece represents a level filled with its own unique challenge.

Keys are also an important item for Rock Runners. Collect as many as possible, as they unlock different zones in the game. There's at least several locked levels within each stage, but as long as you've collected a few keys, progressing through the game is easy as can be.

Although Rock Runners didn't exactly transport me into an alien world, it continues to hold my attention. I still have 28 achievements left to grab, and all that jumping and gem collecting isn't such a bad way to go. Even if there is no life on Mars.


App Store Link: Rock Runners for iPhone & iPad | By Chillingo | Price: $ 0.99 | Version: 1.0.1 |  50.4 MB | Rating 4+
7.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating