So-called “endless runner” games such as Temple Run and Flappy Bird are popular with children for several reasons. They utilize very basic and easy-to-grasp touch controls. They don’t require a great deal of reading comprehension or skill. And, as the name “endless runner” suggests, there’s an inexhaustible number of times these games can be played.
Noodles Now shares a lot in common with the endless runner. It’s set in a near-future town filled with Asian influence. The game centers on a young woman who has recently taken a job to deliver noodles for a local restaurant. During these runs, she has several goals to complete: deliver noodles successfully, collect tips, and try to avoid the other cars on the road.
Controls stick to a core set of commands. The main character flies across the city on a scooter. She can adjust the vehicle’s height in the air, as well as make left, right, and U-turns. And that’s basically it. Controls are mostly basic finger swipe gestures. Depending on where delivery targets are located, the player will have to guide a flying scooter to the correct side of the road, and often to the correct height in the air. Though basic, these controls don’t feel as fine-tuned and responsive as they could, leaving the game feeling awkward and sluggish as you play.
Noodles Now gradually increases speed as a level progresses. However, things are excruciatingly slow throughout the entire game. While playing, I had enough time to check my email and scribble a note on a nearby Post-it stuck to my desk. The thrill of endless-runner games is often found in reaction time. When it’s practically absent, the game suddenly becomes a very dull experience.
Noodles Now is a completely functional game with tiny flecks of personality. But flecks don’t do enough to give Noodles Now the style it needs. Overall it’s a bland, run-of-the-mill game with runner elements. And nothing about game’s setting looks or feels particularly interesting. The downtown area in which deliveries are made is empty and sterile, sparsely populated with generic-looking buildings and flying cars. The main character’s proportions seem slightly off. The game feels very stiff and mechanical.
Judged on the grounds of whether or not it’s a good fit for children, I’d vote in the negative. Its heart is in the right place. It ticks all the boxes to count as a runner-inspired game, but there are more interesting games out there that kids are much more likely to enjoy.