As most teenagers know, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" opens in movie theaters tomorrow. Just in time for the release, Lionsgate and Reliance Games have unveiled a movie tie-in for smartphones and tablets.
The game, fittingly, is an endless runner in the style of Temple Run, but with lots of power-ups, some social elements, and at least a few "Hunger Games"-oriented challenges.
You start by choosing a male or female character. Seconds later, you're off and running, an angry swarm of Tracker Jackers in hot, buzzy pursuit. As in similar games, you swipe up, down, left, and right to jump, slide, and move, all in response to the obstacles that appear along your path.
Of course, this being a Hunger Games game, you'll occasionally trade the jumping and dodging for shooting arrows at stuff, a nice (but simplistic) diversion.
Panem Run litters lots of items for you to collect along the way: building materials, "sparks," and power-ups. Some of these things can be applied to various upgrades, like better arrows, spark multipliers, speed boosts, and so on.
Although the game itself is free, there's a freemium element: It costs 50 coins if you want to continue from where you left off, 250 to buy a premium upgrade for your next run, and so on. The game starts you with 1,000, and it doesn't take much playing to accumulate more. Still, anyone serious about advancing through the game will likely wind up buying extra coins. They run 99 cents for 1,500, $4.99 for 4,000, and so on.
To help keep things interesting, Panem Run lets you log into Facebook to challenge friends. You can also challenge random players in an effort to help your "district" earn the most sparks -- an interesting communal twist. There's no actual multiplayer action, but it's kind of cool to be assigned a district and see what place it's in compared with the others.
Needless to say, if you're a "Hunger Games" fan or you just like endless runners, this is worth a look. And while you're at it, check out, the tie-in game for the first movie.