Chasing Bolt, the Game
We asked Jon Gugala to review the new game, Chasing Bolt! , a new video game featuring Usain Bolt. Jon Gugala, who has been writing stories for us from France, had a few hours to give you a bird’s eye view of the new game that is sweeping the track & field world.
Usain Bolt Gets a Video Game
by Jon Gugala
BEAUVAIS, Fra. – Sometimes as a writer you have to Dig Deeper. You have to Get Your Hands Dirty. You have to Tell the Tough Stories.
This isn’t one of those times.
I’ve been tasked with reviewing Bolt!, a new video game for iOS devices (including your
iPhone or iPad) by Rock Live Inc. that was released on July 13. It’s been the brainchild
of track megastar and defending Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, the game’s protagonist,
and track and field visionary Matt Taylor. The pair met back in 2008 filming
the documentary chasingBOLT.
(Taylor’s name sound familiar? He and I talked during the 2012 Olympic team trials on
the presentation of the sport for the next generation in a story aptly
titled “Eat Your Young.”)
I was tasked to review the game for the following airtight reasons:
I am a Single, White Male (which therefore means I have both the free time
and proclivity for video games)
I am the sole RunBlogRun writer under the age of 40
I speak fluent Young, Hip Talk (LOL, YOLO, BRB)
So shortly after its release, I downloaded Bolt! for my iPhone and began learning to play.
The game’s premise is simple: Bolt (who seems remarkably limber despite rumors of
a back ailment) has to outrun a gang of Caribbean pirates (nowhere near a Disney resort)
who are after his gold. The 2-D background moves under the character’s feet from
right to left, and with a few different finger-swipe movements you as Bolt collect
coins and special Gatorade icons (a tip of the cap to the sponsor) to fill a
“Fuel Meter”, all while jumping and sliding around barrels of cartoonishly-labeled
“TNT” and pirates on golf carts.
Additionally, a flying pirate ship intermittently fires a cannon at you.
This game for me was the best-case scenario. I took about a four-year hiatus
from video games after high school during my time in the Marine Corps and when
I looked back, they’d advanced so far that I was scared back into the shallow end
(controlling a joystick with each thumb required too much dexterity). For those of
you worried, have no fear: Bolt! proves a quick learning curve and an ease of use
that only requires one finger. It’s a game easy to develop a competency in
regardless of previous experience.
And after you’ve run into a few explosive barrels (resulting in incineration into a
pile of black ash with blinky eyeballs), you begin to catch on. You get the rhythm of
it. You discover little tricks, like that all those coins you’re collecting for
seemingly no apparent reason can be used in the “store,” where you really leave
reality with extra lives, power boosts, and (of course) a bazooka.
After you’ve died (inevitable for every man, even those cartoon), you can then connect
your score to Facebook and Twitter to let your friends know how much better you are at
wasting time. Or if too many video games means that you have no friends, you can see
how your score stacks up against various celebrities including Mike Tyson
(390,339 points), Justin Bieber (409,617 points), and Mr. Usain Bolt himself
(a whopping 1,301,940 points, but we’d like to see an objective evaluation).
This game is a lot of fun, especially if you’re currently marooned in a small
French town without much nightlife in between the last big track meet and the
Olympics, waiting for anything to happen. I could see it also being fun in
airports, long car trips with your parents, and when the summer bummer of
Back to School arrives, where everyone knows those first two weeks don’t really
And I’m not the only one to have a good time with Bolt!; currently it’s the number
one free app in Jamaica (home court advantage) and number two in the U.K.
Think of Bolt! as the Angry Birds for the track and field fan. But this
isn’t one of those track charity cases you should blindly support, like when
the cool table at school invites the special ed. kid to sit with them; this
game stands on its own as a fun diversion from whatever you’re supposed to be
And since we’ve all got a little time to kill before athletics at the
Olympics start on August 3, it’s not a bad way to spend a couple million points.
Artwork courtesy of Chasing Bolt!