I love Ben 10. And I don’t use the word “love” lightly – not in the same way you would use it to describe your feelings for delicious food or a particularly beautiful sunset. We’re talking about love in the truest sense of the word – the type of love that convinces a man to bring a Ben 10 DVD to City Hall and ask every one, within earshot, what needs to be done in order to get married to Ben Tennyson, in his Cannonbolt form.
Not that I actually did any of that. It’s just an example. And even if it did happen, it’s definitely not me. I mean, there have been rumors and sightings but it’s some other guy. Case in point is that I love the Ben 10 franchise and I consume merchandise and tie-in products with the immediacy and savagery of a man who is very, very hungry. Except instead of food, I’m craving for anything related to Ben 10. So when a new mobile game called “Up to Speed” was released on the Google Play store, I had to jump on it. I didn’t even have an Android tablet but I bought one just for the game (Marc will reimburse me, so no worries.)
So What, Exactly, is Up to Speed?
If the screenshots have not given it away yet, Ben 10: Up to Speed is an endless runner game based on the Ben 10 franchise. For the uninitiated, “endless runner” is a videogame genre defined by mechanics in which the player is given control of a character that is perpetually running towards a destination. The player cannot stop the runner from running, but can jump, control the direction, and sometimes throttle speed. From this basic template, different games add their own twists – such as giving the runner a weapon or adding power ups, etc.
Ben 10: Up to Speed’s twist is that it incorporates the Omnitrix into the gameplay – meaning you can transform into several of his alien forms, which all differ from each other in the way they handle and possess special skills or abilities that are well suited to specific tasks (certain actions can only be done or certain areas can only be accessed with the right form.)
Of course, there would be no sense in using Ben’s human form considering how much more useful his alien forms are? So the game prevents you from doing that by being true to the show – the alien forms have a time limit, and you only have a set amount per run. This means the player must be prudent in using the transformations, as there may be enemies or areas that would be difficult for all but one of the forms, and one must manage the transformations carefully to avoid reaching an area designed around, say, Cannonbolt’s abilities, with no forms available except base Ben.
Is It Any Good?
The thing about Endless Runner games is that as many as there are available, you only need to play a handful and you’ve played all of them. What makes any of them worthwhile is the added gimmicks and how technically sound the game is. In this regard, Ben 10: Up to Speed can be recommended to fans of both the Endless Runner genre and the Ben 10 franchise. It doesn’t break any new grounds as far as the endless runner genre is concerned, but barring a few bugs and some performance concerns (giving this a pass, as I have full knowledge that the tablet I’m using – a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Lite – isn’t exactly a performance beast), it is a solid game and it makes effective use of the Ben 10 IP in order to add a unique twist to the gameplay. Basically, if you like Endless Runners and enjoy the Ben 10 series, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get this game.