Temple Run. You’re familiar with that, right? It was probably one of the first apps you put on your new touch screen block of the future back when it felt new and exciting and not just another means for endless streams of uninformation to break through your retina, bore through your brain and eject itself through the back of your head.
For the uninitiated it’s what’s known as an Endless Runner game in which an Indiana Jones alike runs with an idol he’s just taken from a jungle temple while a demon monkey thing chases him. You swipe left, right, up, down, you tilt and repeat. It’s simplistic fun but hardly the type of game you’d immediately think would make a great boardgame. And you’d be right. Pat yourself on the back, close the page and feel assured that you knew it would be rubbish and both a waste of time and money. Well done. Only… I agreed that it wasn’t great, I didn’t say it was bad. Ah nuance, you rapscallion.
Opening the Danger Chase box for the first time gives an overwhelming sense of cheapness. The outer box is barely thick enough to register as cardboard, and the plastic insert is capable of giving you a papercut. And criminally, you don’t lift the lid but open the end flap. Even budget store knock offs of Connect Four and Operation manage lids. Cheapness.
Swiper no swiping
Replacing the finger sliding of its digital counterpart, Temple Run: Danger Chase is a dice rolling against the clock affair. Five double sided board pieces are assembled to form a path and between two and four players line up their plastic representation on the start tile while behind them on the temple tile is placed the demon monkey thing. To the side of the board is placed an idol which acts as the timer (3*AAA batteries not included).
Players take turns to hit the idol which commences the timer, beaten out by the sound of the temple drums, and roll five dice on which are symbols representing the runner and the demon monkey thing. For every runner the player rolls they will move one space forward up to a maximum of ten should the rolling end with all five dice presenting double runner symbols, and for every demon monkey thing head the demon monkey thing will move up to a maximum of five spaces. Any blanks are ignored. The rolling player may re-roll the runner or blank dice as many times as they wish while the timer is active but any demon monkey thing heads are locked.
Once happy with the number of runners showing, or simply out of blind panic, the player hits the idol again to stop the timer. The length of time the player has is determined by the skill level set on the idol base. Take too long though and the sounds of monkey screams will mean you’ve tripped and must fall to the space immediately behind the player currently furthest back. As players move forward the rear most unoccupied tile is moved, and optionally flipped and / or rotated, to the other end of the play area to extend the path ahead.
To enhance the sense of danger in the chase, as well as being pursued by a demon monkey thing the runners must also avoid gaps in the path. Land on a gap and the player falls to their death. Players can’t share a space so landing on another player means moving to the space in front of them, which if a gap will mean death. Once eliminated, whether from being caught by the demon monkey thing or falling down a gap, when that players’ turn comes around again they perform a single roll of all five dice on behalf of the demon monkey thing and move it forward as many spaces as heads revealed.
Along the way players may land on a space that contains a magnet, wings, or speeding runner symbol. Landing on the wings and speeding runner symbols will reward the player with a tiny paper thin card of that symbol. Players also start with one of each of the wings which can be spent allowing a player to land on a gap without dying and a speeding runner which can be spent before a player starts the timer and will double their runner count on that turn. Landing on the magnet allows the player to take a card of their choice from any other player. Your aim is to be the last player still running.
That quest to be the final active player can certainly build some excitement as at the start of every turn you assess what runner count you want and must avoid combined with how many demon monkey thing heads you’d like to see to eliminate a rival. This is then followed by the anxiety of having now established that the player in front is four spaces away and there’s a gap at five so both of those must be avoided; two will put you on a magnet so you can take an opponents’ wings card having used your own earlier; and six would get you a speed runner card and put you in the lead. Which is all great except now you’ve started to panic as following some frantic rolling you’re facing a solitary runner, two demon monkey thing heads and two blanks and you can’t be sure you’ve got time to re-roll any of the dice before the monkey screams end your deliberations and put you to the back which is only three spaces ahead of the demon monkey thing.
Is it… a fun run?
With simple rules and a basic dice rolling mechanic there’s not a great deal of depth to Danger Chase but it’s by no means a bad game and certainly better than you may have expected given the source licence. The adjustable timer means it’s accessible to young children if supported with a helping adult hand and given its frantic nature it means a game can be over in ten minutes, making it a good opener / introduction game prior to a longer more involved game.
The excitement of rolling against the timer and the fun of watching an opponent panic and make a game ending mistake would let me forgive Danger Chase its budget packaging and components were it not for the fact that it has an RRP of £19.99. For that kind of money you could buy beautifully detailed and constructed games such as Forbidden Desert or Carcassonne (which also have proper boxes). No matter how much fun can be drawn from playing Danger Chase that kind of price would still feel like you were getting less than you’d paid for. However, for half that price: grab it and run.
The game was purchased by the reviewer, the batteries by his more observant wife. The game is out now.
Temple Run: Danger Chase
Price: £19.99 (Expect to pay <£8)
Players: 2-4 (best with 4)
Age: 8+ (4 year old managed fine with help)
Time: 10 – 20 minutes per game