By: Nimish Dubey And Akriti Rana | Updated at : 26 Jul 2022 10:30 AM (IST)
Subway Surfers Tag offers a top-down view, unlike the original game. ( Image Source : Sybo Games )
They might not get as much of the spotlight in the era of PUBG and Call of Duty, but there was a time when endless running games dominated mobile gaming. These were remarkable for being action-oriented games which were actually played with the phone held vertically (in a “portrait” layout, so to say), and very simple to learn — the main character kept running and you had to ensure that they kept running for as long as possible. There was often no real clear “end” to the game — you just kept on running until you fell off the road, or were caught by a pursuer, or something which stopped you from running took place. Hence the name “endless runners.”
One of the most popular endless runners of all time was Subway Surfers. Almost everyone who has played games on their mobile phone would have at some stage heard of or played Subway Surfers. Released in 2012, the game acquired a cult following and was seen by many as being a slightly more hip and cool version of another “endless runner,” Temple Run. Subway Surfers was a classic endless runner too — you played a hip youngster who was spraypainting walls before being chased by a policeman who did not appreciate your artistry.
You ran and surfboarded your way through subways, literally switching tracks, sliding under and jumping over obstacles, collecting coins and rewards for as long as possible, until the long arm of the law finally got you by the collar.
The game was incredibly easy to play. All you had to do was tap and swipe (you could play it with one hand). It had a bright and colourful layout and was accompanied by lively music too. It racked up billions of downloads and was ranked as the most downloaded game of the previous decade by App Annie, and even inspired an animated series.
The game now has a whole new version called Subway Surfers Tag. And it is a new game in every sense of the word. So much so that Subway Surfer fans might not even recognise it as part of the series. There are some familiar faces (you can play as Jake, Tricky, Yutani, and Fresh, each of whom has their own signature special move), you are still being chased by a policeman and this time, he has some robots to him. You still have to collect rewards and coins, and you still have your can of spray and surfboard handy. But there the similarity ends.
You realise that Subway Surfers Tag is a very different game from the classic Subway Surfers the moment you load it. This is not a game that is designed to be played one-handed or in portrait/vertical mode. The game is set in landscape mode like most action games now, which means you have to hold your phone or tablet horizontally, with one hand on each side. The perspective you get of the game is also very different. In classic Subway Surfers, your point of view was literally from behind the back of your character and the scene in front kept unfolding depending on the progress they made. So things appeared suddenly — a train, an obstacle, the end of a track, and so on. Subway Surfers Tag, however, pretty much shows you everything at one go. You get a top-down view and you can see where you can surf and where you cannot. There are fewer surprises here, other than the robots that materialise out of nowhere.
The biggest change, however, is in terms of gameplay. Whereas in the original Subway Surfers, what you needed to do was simply tap on the display to make your character change direction, or swipe up or down to make them slide or jump, in Subway Surfers Tag, you use an onscreen direction pad to control the moves of your character. You start each mission with some targets and objectives to fulfil — collect a certain number of coins, destroy a certain number of robots, survive for a certain amount of time, and so on.
All of this results in an experience which is entertaining but is not really like the original Subway Surfer. The locales are still colourful and the music is catchy as ever. But the top-down view means that the element of surprise that was a trademark of the original is largely missing. In Subway Surfers Tag, you are not just thinking of running non-stop and collecting rewards but also figuring out how to remove robots, jumping on rails to pick up extra points, avoiding the guard and there’s even an energy meter to keep track of. In many ways, Subway Surfer Tags has more elements of strategy than action in it — as you can see the entire arena from the very beginning, there are no split-second decisions to make. So you can actually plan your way around, which will please strategic thinkers but will leave adrenaline junkies disappointed.
That really sums up Subway Surfers Tag and the new direction the game has taken. It is a less instinctive and more planned game. Barring the sudden appearances of robots (some of which even power you up), you pretty much know where you are going. There is a slight element of combat but that is too basic — you can destroy robots through your spray can but the aiming is done automatically, so you really cannot plan too much here. The element of surprise and survival that marked the original is not as prominent here. The focus in this game is more on getting through missions and collecting rewards, and less on good old-fashioned survival.
You do get some fancy gear but the gameplay remains largely the same across different arenas. The arenas themselves are also largely similar, with rails and platforms in most of them, although the colours and props change. More content is expected to be added to the game in the coming days, and as it is an Apple Arcade exclusive at the time of writing, there are no ads and no in-app purchases, which is a relief at a time when you can barely spend more than five minutes playing a game without being subjected to an ad or getting a purchase suggestion (we are looking at you, Diablo Immortal!)!
Subway Surfers Tag looks good and plays super smooth, and if you have not played the original Subway Surfers, there’s a decent chance that you will like its new version.
Those who are addicted to the original title however are unlikely to be too impressed by it. It is just a very different take on the game — more a rework from scratch, than a refresh. We just hope that this is a temporary step away from that super addictive original format, and lurking somewhere in the distance is a Subway Surfers 2 with all the frenetic craziness of the first and then some.
Subway Surfers Tag is available for free on Apple Arcade and is currently available only for iOS devices. And from what we have heard, it is not coming to Android very soon either. If you have iOS device and an Apple Arcade subscription, go right ahead and try Subway Surfers tag. Just remember: it is nothing like the original.
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