Copyright/Publisher: Domark/Tengen, Programmed by: Zach Townsend,
Music & FX By: Matt Furniss,
Graphics by: Matt Hicks & Tony West,
Release Year: 1990, Genre: Weird Sports, Number Of Players: 1
You've done some Hard Drivin', but have you tried 900mph speed racing in the 21st
century's Spread Tunnel Ubderground Network Runner? Taking on all contenders and
the tightest of time limits you race through the 24 tunnel networks, the twists
and turns getting wilder and crazier with each new level.
The Runner is initially unarmed but progression sees wing pods added and lasrers
for disposing of annoying drones and mag cycles that can slow you down. Avoid the
armoured drones though; they're indestructible.
The Runner can climb up onto the sides of the tunnel walls to keep up speed.
Running over boost pads gives extra acceleration and allows the Runner to loop
over the top of the tunnel. Ramps lift it momentarily into the air over obstacles.
Collecting 30 green stars (blocks on the C64) gives a Shockwave (smart-bomb) for
use later on.
Three skill levels allow the Runner to start on selected stages of the network
with two continue-plays. Also in the game are Challenge Lvels, consisting purely
of boost pads where the Runner has to race over as many pads as possible to get
into the Booster Bunch Hall Of Fame. The prize for the fastest Runners is a chance
at the Ultimate Challenge track where everything is thrown at the player.
I adored the coin-op so I was wary of this one following the disastrous C64 Hard
Drivin'. I hoped for something at least passable, especially with ex-Ocean programmer
Zach Townsend behind the C64 version, and I almost got it with a good main sprite,
accurate tunnel perspective and some of the coin-op's presentation.
I was pleasantly surprised by its looks. Pity about the actual tunnel effect:
it's faster than I expecte, but still relatively slow with limited types of turn
and a severe lack of side object graphics. After Drivin', Runner really wasn't
a possibility but it looks fairly close to the coin-op so well done for that,
but otherwise half marks for sacrificing the fun of the game.
The Amiga version is just one bad dream, with a less convincing 3-D effect
than the C64! Sure, it's got all the vehicles and side graphics but it's too
slow-paced to keep even me hooked. I feel the need for speed and I'm not getting it
here. To top it all, the pale colour scheme suggests a PC or ST port-across and
the weak graphic of the Runner looks like bits have fallen off it!
I'm stunned by just how bad this is, especially the pathetic Amiga version.
The exhilarating speed of the coin-op has been replaced by amazingly sluggish
3-D - it's more like a Sunday drive than a race!
Without the speed, you're left with some very limited gameplay: running over
bonuses and turbo pads while avoiding or shooting the odd nasty. There's hills
to ride over but it's deadly dull.
Th3 C64 game is actually faster than the Amiga with a decent speed effect,
but ultimately suffers from the same lack of content. Not a bad effort, though.