Rodeo Stampede: wrangling novelty

When we play mobile games we often expect for gameplay to closely resemble another game we’ve already played.  It is no secret that the mobile market has a bad case of “me too” game design, where we see developers cloning and tweaking successful games.  So it is refreshing to find a game which take a fresh look at gameplay and offer us something more than a copy of proven standards.

As the player progresses through the level they hop from animal to animal, mechanic to mechanic

Rodeo Stampede proves that novelty of design remains alive and well within mobile game development.  Whereas many endless runner titles focus solely on twitch gameplay, with overcoming the increasing difficulty of the course as the main indicator of the player’s progression, Rodeo Stampede masterfully mixes in fun, and robust collection mechanics, along with a delightful variety of mechanics.

As the player upgrades their zoo their animals gain new abilities

Rodeo Stampede accomplishes this by making the player’s navigation of the runner space completed by riding a variety of animals.  The animals themselves feature unique mechanics; vultures can fly over the game space for a brief period of time, giraffes will throw the player a great distance, elephants can smash through obstacles, ostriches get a speed boost, etc. This allows the player to navigate through the map using their favorite mechanics, while also utilizing the more challenging animals / mechanics, to get past tough areas.

The player’s appearance customization options are based on the number of unique animals they’ve been able to wrangle

As the player finds unique variants of each animal they get a photo op which allows them to commemorate their achievement.  Each unique animal gets added to their zoo which grants the player an income to unlock new areas, and upgrade their animals’ mechanics.  Wrangling unique variants multiple times unlock unique outfits to customize the player’s appearance, reflecting the animal wrangling count they have completed. Challenges focus the player on using the animals to achieve feats of mechanical finesse such as using an ostrich to speed through a certain distance, or using a giraffe to hurdle the player over 40 meters before catching another animal.

The player’s zoo doubles as a source of income and a showcase of the animals they’ve tamed

Rodeo Stampede has taken the familiar endless runner mechanic and infused it with a much needed dose of novelty.  With the mechanical variety expressed by each new animal the player encounters, each new area tempts the curiosity of the player to play a few more rounds.  It is great to play a game that takes risks in its design and shows us that novelty doesn’t need to be a matter of cashing in on a fad, or being a one trick pony, but rather that it can stand as a way of enticing players into a deeper experience by showing them something entirely new.

Here’s some video footage showcasing the gameplay; switching animals, using their abilities, and taming new animals:

Do you think that games with novel elements can compete with traditional game designs? Do you feel that more often than not games that focus too much on novelty end up being too far from what the players enjoy? Do you feel that novel games often fade from their initial engagement after a short period of time? I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to

Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on FacebookTwitterInstagramand Youtube.



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