A watermelon and an iced doughnut walk into an empty room. It sounds like the start of a joke, but here it’s a tutorial: you tap the screen, the pair jump with a faint squeak of exertion, and the game’s title appears. It’s a wonderfully efficient opening to an iOS platformer as entertaining as it is unaffected, and this refreshingly businesslike approach is a large part of its appeal.
Your chosen foodstuff advances automatically through a series of brightly coloured worlds, while your role is to prod them into leaping over pits, spikes and sundry other hazards, collecting stars and adding edible friends to your conga line. Patrolling minibeasts and false teeth can be bounced upon, but marauding buzzsaws must be avoided entirely: simple enough when you’re a lone raspberry, less so when an egg, a lime and a slice of cake are trailing behind. The distance of each leap is controlled by the length of your tap: the key to success isn’t just about learning when to press your finger to the screen, but knowing when to let go.
Crucially, even as the difficulty escalates, frustrations are kept to a minimum. The controls are unfailingly responsive, and while later levels are challenging, they’re short enough to encourage an instant replay should you have missed any stars or groceries as you cross the finish line. Food Run may be unapologetically old-fashioned – right down to its use of impossibly jaunty stock music – but game design this smart never goes out of style.