Shine Runner is a game for any child that's ever dreamed of guiding a high-speed fanboat through a backwoods bayou, police sirens wailing as you race to unload your precious cargo of bootleg booze to the highest bidder. Shine Runner would be completely ridiculous if it weren't so amazing.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane and Riptide GP developer Vector Unit turns its mastery of water and boat physics on the wet and wild world of bayou booze smuggling in Shine Runner. Using simple tap or tilt controls to steer left and right, players are tasked with piloting their fanboat from shine shack to shine shack, half-heartedly attempting to avoid obstacles along the way.
I say half-heartedly because Vector Unit has made just about everything in the environment destructible, so while sure, getting a good time bonus for a run is nice, plowing through trees, other runners and rickety old buildings is almost too entertaining to pass up. In fact there really doesn't seem to be much of a point to not stopping to smell and then smash the flowers, as the game's police presence never becomes more than a bumping nuisance and you seem to have stumbled upon the ancient indestructible fanboat of shalla baal, mentioned in hush whispers wherever people whisper about such things.
So kick back, relax, and enjoy the view. The racing portion of the game is simply gorgeous, running blazingly fast on my Samsung Galaxy S II and featuring a graphics slider to tone down the visuals for lesser models. Like Riptide GP before it, this is one of those games that highlights how powerful mobile gaming has become, at least from a technical standpoint.
But Shine Runner is more than just a pretty race. It's about making a fortune buying and selling contraband. The player has 10 rounds to travel between six different extreme rural retailers, trading on items like crawdads, catfish, snake oil, and of course, moonshine. Which of the six locations has what items at what prices seems left completely up to chance, so earning a substantial amount of cash is more hit-or-miss than careful planning. I realise this puts it at odds with real world shine running, but those guys aren't going to show up on the internet to correct anyone.
Once your 10 rounds are up the score is recorded for posterity and you start all over again. The experience is a little shallow overall, but that's why you're piloting a fanboat. If you want a deeper, more challenging fanboat racing experience, then I suggest bugging Vector Unit until they make one. I doubt any other developer is going there anytime soon. Until then, there's Shine Runner.
Shine Runner [Android Market]
Shine Runner [iTunes]