S.T.U.N. Runner - Rerelease
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

Ever driven a red gobstopper through a maze of drone-infested tunnels? Do you want to? IAN 'DOWN THE DRAIN' OSBORNE has the answer...

Oh whoopie-flip, it's this pile of tosh again! Why haven't they got the message yet? As a full-priced outing it was in the bargain bins weeks after hitting the shelves, in the exceptionally weak TNT 2 compilation it was still the traditional turkey, and now Ocean have bought it for their Hit Squad label! How bad does a game have to be before it disappears its own backside in a puff of pixels?

In the arcades, STUN Runner was a fair game. Guide your STUN craft through a 24-level tunnel complex, dodging indestructibal drones, blasting various baddies, and swerving frantically to avoid bomb-dropping flyers. Colliding with enemy vehicles doesn't harm your craft, but does slow you down.

Like a bobsleigh pilot you can ride the walls of the tunnels, sitting high on the turns to achieve maximum speed, hitting a turbo-boost pad increasing your speed to an amazing 900-odd mph. Ride over shockwave pads to collect a smart bomb, which can be activated whenever you please.

The need for speed
Although its 24 levels were far too samey to make it a classic, the coin-op's blinding feeling of speed made it good for a few plays, especially the sit-on hydraulic version. Not so the C64 game - all the arcade elements are there, but it's so blimmin' boring! Robbed of the coion-op's mega-speed, design weaknesses are cruelly exposed, leaving gameplay that's thinner than Markie Kendrick's hair.

Acceleration is automatic, reducing the game is a simple left-right-fire outing. Your front-mounted blaster can be targeted on airborne or ground-hogging vehicles, but apart from this, aiming is a simple matter of making sure you're in line with the baddie before hitting fire. There's no choice of routes, no on-screen opponents to race, no terra hazards, no nothing really - just reach the end of the track within a certain time, then start all over again.

The graphics are awful - your high-powered super-duper racing craft looks like a curling stone with water wings, doing battle with assorted supermarket trolleys, Zimmer frames and a brick. The backgrounds look more like the backdrop for a badly filmed Pink Floyd concert than a futuristic tunnel, and give no feeling of speed at all - if it wasn't for your speedo you'd be hard-pressed to tell whether or not you're turbo-boosting.

The sound's a joke too - ever sat in the middle of a lawn-mover factory while they were testing a new batch? Well it's just like that. And to cap it all, when the sprites come together there's a horrendous amount of character clash!

At the end of the day STUN Runner is a piddle-poor conversion of an impossible-to-convert coin-op - five minutes after loading, you'll have seen everything the game has to offer, and that's virtually sod all. A disaster on the C64, a bor one the Amiga, our only consolation is that the chronic Speccy version makes it look almost good!