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Temple Run 2 Review: Endless adventures on Windows Phone

Indie and mobile games go through various genres of the moment over time, sort of like how console and big-budget PC games have been stuck on First-Person Shooters for the last ten years or so. For the longest time, it seemed like every new small-scale release that came along was a tower defense game. Hardly anybody complained, due to the inherent joy of defending towers.

The new genre of the moment on mobile is definitely the endless running game. A slew of endless runners have recently flooded Windows Phone 8, including such high profile releases as Subway Surfers and Despicable Me: Minion Rush. Only one endless runner with 3D graphics sports Xbox Live features, though: Temple Run 2 from Imangi Studios (makers of Harbor Master). Does the only non-spin-off sequel to Temple Run stand tall above its competitors? Read on to find out.

Danger up high

The original Temple Run took place in a fictional South American-esque temple setting in which the player’s heroic adventurer desperately tried to outrun a horde of demonic monkeys. The sequel moves things to a more fanciful (and interesting) lost city above the clouds. This time, the adventurer must evade a single gigantic gorilla. And because the endless running genre demands it, the hero will always fail sooner or later.

Temple Run 2’s controls take very little time to learn. Dragging left and right steers your character around the track, allowing him or her to pick up coins and avoid hazards. Hard swipes left or right will safely get you through ninety degree turns.

Swipe down to slide under obstacles, or swipe up to jump over pits and the like. Not everything will kill you in this game, but slowing down proves almost as dangerous. That King Kong-wannabe is never too far behind.

Mine carts and waterslides, oh my

The change in environment has thrown some new wrinkles into Temple Run 2’s gameplay. Each run starts out with a zip-line that players must cling to in order to slide across a massive gap. Weaving left or right to grab up coins is always a fun diversion.

Other times, you’ll run into a gigantic waterslide. Splashing through one of these sections feels quite similar to the halfpipe bonus stages from the Sonic the hedgehog series, especially since you’re grabbing coins much of the time. You’ll also have to duck under obstacles and choose a direction at sudden forks in the slide, keeping you on your toes.

Mine cart areas fit perfectly with the series’ Indiana Jones-inspired theme. Cart riders will need to avoid fire and choose wisely at intersections as well. Take the wrong path and you’ll smack into a wall, ending your run. Thin parts of the track require the rider to learn in a safe direction - otherwise he or she will plummet into the abyss below.

Powers and power-ups

Even though the odds are stacked against players in this or any endless runner, a few items and abilities can stave off defeat at least temporarily. As you progress through a run, your special move meter will eventually fill up. Once it fills, double tap the screen to activate it and become invincible for a short time. You’ll run over gaps, make perfect turns, and everything. The game doesn’t actually teach us how to activate the special move, unless I missed it somewhere.

Players can also grab floating power-ups every now and again. Grab a coin magnet and unleash your special ability to turn into a coin-stealing machine. Strangely, you can’t just buy and unlock all of Temple Run 2’s power-ups like in other running games. Instead, several items can only be unlocked by purchasing characters. The game barely has any power-ups to begin with, and the character-based unlocks only make it worse.

Characters

Temple Run 2 offers several characters for players to purchase. Most cost coins, the game’s soft currency, but not all.

  • Guy Dangerous: Generic explorer guy
  • Scarlett Fox: A generic female explorer created for this sequel. Her voice samples are the worst I’ve heard in recent memory.
  • Barry Bones: A black police officer
  • Karma Lee: An Asian lady who doesn’t look very Asian an dresses really strangely
  • Francisco Montoya: A Spanish conquistador
  • Zack Wonder: A generic American football player
  • Montana Smith: Returning character who resembles Indiana Jones
  • Santa Claus: The Miracle from 34th Street costs 60 gems (approximately $7 worth of hard currency)
  • Usain Bolt: A real-life Jamaican track star. He costs 99 cents in-game - cheap compared to Santa.

As with the first game, players can spend coins to upgrade their characters’ abilities. Upgrades include boosting coin value, increasing coin magnet duration, increasing score multiplier, and more. These ability upgrades are shared across all characters.

Players can opt to buy a permanent coin doubler for $4.99. Even then, you’ll need to play for quite a while (probably 10+ hours) before you can afford all of the upgrades and characters.

Missions and Leveling

The leveling system here works much like Jetpack Joyride’s. At any given time, you have three side missions to work on. Complete enough of them and you’ll level up. On top of those, the game also presents daily and weekly challenges to keep players coming back. Knock out enough of those and you’ll earn tons of coins or gems.

The missions and leveling structure are welcome, but they feel rudimentary compared to other games. Jetpack Joyride’s missions are much more diverse and quick to complete. The carrot at the end of the stick here is less appetizing and comes on an overly long string.

Pretty as you want

Left: Medium Detail. Right: High Detail

Unlike most Windows Phone games, Temple Run 2 offers graphical settings that allow users to tailor performance to their devices. On medium, the game runs perfectly smoothly on the Lumia 920. The high settings increase the character model’s detail and adds shadows, but the frame rate drops on the 920. I’m sure the more powerful Lumia 1520 could handle High without breaking a sweat, so it’s cool that the game can take advantage of it.

Run from the bugs

Temple Run 2 arrives on Windows Phone 8 with all of the same content as the iOS and Android versions, even the stuff those platforms received in a December update. Xbox games usually lag behind other platforms when they first arrive (if not forever), so it’s great to see this game keeping pace with sister versions.

That said, the Windows Phone game suffers from two nasty bugs. The first (which affects everybody) causes the game to falsely register presses of the Share button. So whenever you finish a run or move through various menus, you’ll end up at the Windows Phone Rate and Review screen. A minor relatively annoyance, but one that inspires many of us to leave negative reviews.

The far more serious bug only affects some users. These players will find the game fails to save their progress, basically making it impossible to amass coins or level up very much. For those people, Temple Run 2 won’t be much fun to play.

Finally, the friends leaderboards don't work too well. Some users have noticed they fail to update at all. My problem is the names and scores appear in a completely random order. Wouldn't it make more sense to list users by score or alphabetically?

Achievements

Nearly all of Temple Run 2’s Achievements involve completing side missions, nicely integrating them into the game’s existing structure. The odd thing is you can’t get a mission’s Achievement until that mission comes up, even if you complete the exact requirements beforehand. Still, it should only take around six hours to progress far enough to knock out all of the Achievements.

Overall Impression

It took almost a year for Temple Run 2 to make its way to Windows Phone 8. Even after all that time (and despite the graphical detail options), it still requires handsets with at least 1 GB of RAM. The memory limitation comes from Unity, the engine that makes Temple Run 2 tick. Unity’s Windows Phone support still lags behind other platforms, which also helps explain in part why the game took so long to arrive at all.

After all that time, Temple Run 2 has arguably been surpassed by other endless runners like Subway Surfers and especially Jetpack Joyride. Imangi would do well to staff up a little bit in order to compete with the scope that larger studios bring to their genre entries.

Still, Temple Run 2 is plenty of fun in short doses and should keep players interested at least until the last Achievement pops. The In-App Purchase structure is fair as well, so players won’t feel too pressured to spend. You can’t truly win at this game, but you’ll probably enjoy trying.

  • Temple Run 2 – Windows Phone 8 (minimum 1 GB of RAM required) – MB – Free – Store Link

QR: Temple Run 2

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

121 Comments
  • Hope they will fix the saving progress bug and bring support to 512mb devices, even though I have 920 .
  • minimun 1GB Ram?this is hillarious,im 100% sure it work great with 512MB Devices..
    No wonders why developer still limit it to 1GB Ram users...
  • No, you're wrong about that. Unity really struggles with 512 MB devices right now.
  • doesn't it use the same engine as original temple run?
  • The first Temple Run on iOS does not run on Unity, but the WP version does. Temple Run 2 runs on Unity on all platforms. However, Temple Run 2 is much more demanding than the first game, so even though the first game runs on 512 MB devices (barely), the dev hasn't been able to get Temple Run 2 working on them yet.
  • I would have assumed that with the graphical tweak that the lowest setting should have accommodated this, otherwise I kinda see no point in having it.
  • There's no technical reason why it can't run on 512MB devices, when it runs fine on an iPhone 4S.
  • Look at Pauls comment 2 comments up..
  • There is a technical reason stemming from the game engine itself. Yes, coded from scratch the game could certainly run on 512 MB devices. But it runs on Unity (on iOS as well), and the WP support for Unity isn't up to snuff yet.
  • Hmm, how does Space Heads work so smooth then?
  • It's a different game?
  • You are right. I extracted XAP from my Samsung ATIV S and sideloded to my Nokia Lumia 620. Works perfect. I dont uderstand what is going on...
  • could you give some more details,or cud u send me that xap file??
  • Already beaten the game, got all achievements.
  • What was the last achievement, with biggest gamerscore award? Too lazy to check from the internet..
  • 1 million score without powerups.
  • Mehh 1 million without powerips was easy, the lifetime challenges are harder eg collect 1million coins or play 1000 games etc. My best run is 44,000 meters and 15million + score.
  • You sir diplomat have set me a goal to beat!
  • My score is 43M+... Your second goal.
  • How did they take so long to release this game and now that it's here it's riddled with bugs...
  • Read the article...
  • Well, it does not explain why is full of, still not fixed, bugs....
  • Lol I read the article
  • Great game. Still play Minion Rush more. But I'm not a huge fan of endless runners as they get stale after a while. But those are my two favorite for runners
  • And I thought this was an article about temple run 2 being updated to 512 Mb ram :'(
    Anyways,folks,dungeon hunter 4 is now available for 512mb ram,though a slight issue.it's not showing up when I search on windows phone store,I have to access it from direct links from wpc or update checker.I have U.S region,1.97 GB free but still when I press install,sometimes it says not enough space,sometimes it says MS service unavailable, anybody else succeeded?plz give details :'(
  • Was our title "Temple Run 2 Review: Endless adventures on Windows Phone" too deceptive? lol
  • Lol,I always look at the photo first ;) my bad :D
  • +1 :)
  • Yeah good news for dungeon hunter 5 available in 512 MB RAM love you gameloft and thanks
  • Won't play until they won't fix save bug.
  • It got fixed by itself, for the first 50 runs it didn't work but now it has worked for weeks..
  • Most fun character for me to use is Usain Bolt, because the Bolt power is a combo of boost, magnet, and shield. Santa is a RIP OFF, as they could have at least given him something unique like Bolt...
  • He's not a ripoff once you get the gem ability.
  • "Barry Bones- a black police officer" Sad how this isn't PC, or is it? I dont know anymore. Isn't he just a police officer?
  • More interesting to describe his appearance a bit. Also, minorities are under-represented in games. When a game allows players to play as characters from other races, it doesn't hurt to acknowledge that.
  • Aren't we all from the same race? That is, the human race. What difference should it make what colour a character is. If a game character is black we really shouldn't need to be told this by his characters name/description. Who really cares anyway?
  • Black people, who have so few positive role models on movies and TV, and often don't appear in games, would be the ones who care. The same applies to women - strong female non-sexualized leads and characters are similarly scarce. White males don't have to worry about being represented; we're everywhere.
  • yeah that review bug is super annoying. on three ocassions during loading (imangi splash screen) it has completely rebooted my 920. anyone else get that?
  • yup, i get that issue but not often. At first i thought it was a battery issue but it wasnt. The splash screen reboots the phone sometimes.
  • I think it will come to 512mb ram in next year.
  • On my HTC 8xt the graphics are completely broken.
  • whats ur highest score paul??
  • High Score: 5163483 No Save Me: 310934 Distance Run: 11271 Coins Collected: 9044
  • dont tell me u never played tr2 before???
  • Played Temple Run Brave a bit before this one. Not my favorite genre, but they're alright.
  • but u still did a commendable job!!!
  • Can't save my progress...
  • I am still waiting for Temple run 2.
  • I got the progress bug. It's really a shame that they haven't fixed it yet. I'm just going to delete it, even though they fix it I couldn't care less...they've had their chance for weeks now.
  • Everytime I finish a run it automatically brings up rate and review. Very annoying. Hopefully they can apply a fix soon.
  • I had that as well
  • So now everyone knows why so many games aren't available for WP8 512mb handsets. Unity is the cause.
    And, please, don't blame the developers for that anymore. I am pretty sure that they already spent a lot of time trying to optimize their games! Complain with Joe Belfiore, that said that TR2 and SS will come to 512mb phones. Complain with him and the others guys behind Unity Engine for make it such a great memory rogue!!
  • How about everyone who wants to play every game just a get a device with 1gb ram.
  • if he said then they wud!!!well once i asked keith shepherd about availability of tr:oz n tr:brave fr 512 mb ram n he just blurted out that its impossible to make them run on 512 mb rams fr wp8,so is the case we dont have them on 512 mb ram phones!!
  • Maybe is the case why we not have SS on this devices as well... And other games...
  • we will have them belfiore does wat he says!!!just wait....
  • Already beat it and got all of the achievements. Great game!
  • Grrrrr! My 625 is not 1GB RAM! =(
  • i heard ppl saying if u want to play gud games...purchase high end phones!!!or comments like wat do u xpect frm a 100$ phone like 520,go n get a 820 or 920 or 1020!!i even heard a guy kicking sumone's butt by saying u buy a 520 n want to play halo:sa on it!!!i dnt knw where r those ppl after lumia 525...guys u there??i m playing halo on my 525..n it runs same as 1020 ouchh!!
  • You can play halo on 520 too
    I'm playing dungeon hunter 4 too on my 520
  • Link please
  • http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/dungeon-hunter-4/8f8b4298-c9... change region to US
  • Go tohttp://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/collections/essential-games/1b72...
  • Does anyone know how to solve not saving bug?
  • try reinstalling!!
  • That's what i did it sorts it out
  • Didnt work for me, this is already the second time I tried to reinstall it. Do you think gdr3/black update will solve this problem?
  • Go into settings and language. Change the third choice to English US. (don't know the name in English, it it is where you set how it writes time date and currency) Start the game, play a round. Go out of the game and start it again. It should now keep your coins and other progress. You should be able to go into language settings and change it back at this point. This solution work for me.
  • Thanks, this worked for me!
  • Thanx a lot, this worked for me as well :D :D :D
  • You sir deserve a drink on the house.
  • THANKS. worked :)
  • I don't get any of those bugs on my HTC 8X thankfully...
  • That review bugs simple to sort its a case of uninstall reinstall the game that's what i found on my 920 don't seem to get that bug on my 1520 though
  • The bug didn't start for me until over 25+ runs into the game. Keep playing
  • Still working alright to me iv been playing it for ages done well over 25+ runs now
  • 1G RAM?!?!?! FFS
  • The saving bug made me uninstall.
  • Nice review and easy achievements. That bug where it asks you to leave a review did result in a negative review by me.
  • For all the hype and whining we had to put up here for week after week, the game was a huge "just another endless runner". Already uninstalled a couple of weeks ago.
  • Late
  • You say the leaderboards work properly, but I'm not actually sure that's right.  I mean, it lists my high score as 6 million when it's actually 31 million.  It still saves my progress from run to run, so I don't think it's the same bug as that, but it just never updates the stats on the Leaderboards page anymore.  (I do also have the "review" bug, so I don't know if it's related to that though).  It's weird though because the correct stats display in the Stats section.
  • How does gameloft make many of their games compatible?? Why cant imangi do it at the right time can anyone explain me please???
  • coz they care less about wp8 platform.....look how they haven't fixed tr1 bugs yet....
  • No , itz not like that . They might me trying to bring the update for the bug and 512ram support together . :)
  • The developer is not at all giving a fuck to WP. Main reason is tr1. Gameloft buy them soon!!!!
  • Keeps taking me rate and review everytime I lose sucks
  • I agree with you Paul about the voice track for the Scarlett Fox character. Yeesh. When she falls off a cliff she sounds like my cat begging for food. When I was a kid and it was fun to alter voices by speeding up my 45 records by spinning them faster on the turntable with my finger.That sounds like what the dev did to the Guy Dangerous grunts to create Ms. Fox.  
  • Ha ha, my theory is it's just the female half of the development team, and she knows nothing about voice acting.
  • For God's sake remove that review bug in Temple run 2, its super annoying...doesnt this developer test there games, before making it LIVE..!