First announced under the code name “One Life Only” on Fakepup’s development blog in January 2010, Super Bit Dash is yet another indie iOS project that’s had quite the roller coaster of a production cycle. Now that it’s bounding toward the finish line, Fakepup has been gracious enough to let us tear into a playable build. Our time with Super Bit Dash has made one thing patently clear: the many late nights spent polishing this one have been well worth the effort, both for the development team and for anyone who chances a download on this soon-to-be App Store gem come release day!

Super Bit Dash isn’t just shaping up to be a great running game — it’s shaping up to be a fun and carefully designed platformer as well, which bodes extremely well for it in a genre that’s been beaten to death so much. Tapping at the screen makes the player’s bulky, scarf-wearing dude leap as one would expect by now, but the main tricks up his thermal sleeve are various dashes he can pull off as the player swipes appropriately. It’s small wonder where the game’s name comes from! Whether he’s speeding along the ground or already airborne, the player can swipe forward, up, or down to help him bust through breakable obstacles. Swiping backward makes him brake before he runs into spiked walls or laser beams, giving the player some precious seconds to think about how to get him out of a jam.

These maneuvers become so useful and exciting that the novice player soon forgets about the character’s basic jumping ability. That’s a mistake, however: his dashes have to be carefully budgeted, as they’re mysteriously powered by all the coins floating around in the game’s levels. The player needs to be extra judicious when his power meter’s running low, lest he be denied his signature moves when he needs them most.

Besides the smart controls and number of moves the hero has at his disposal, I’m really enthused about two things here. Super Bit Dash makes use of separate difficulty levels and a randomization system to keep the player’s experience well-varied; there’s no telling what’s ahead when the player has to start over judging from the time we’ve spent with the game so far, so it’s all about visceral, real-time reaction and not exercises in memorization. Best of all, Fakepup has found a way to address my greatest concern when it comes to infinite runners without leaving the genre entirely, but I’ll keep that under my hat until the review!

Stay tuned for our interview with the Fakepup team and a full review when Super Bit Dash releases! For now, keep an eye on their dev blog and Twitter feed for the latest news.