Design Design have established themselves as an excellent software house for the Amstrad with two hit titles already and On The Run looks like being another success. It's very colourful with lots of screens, plenty of shooting and loads of objects to collect.
You control a protective-suited character called Rick Swift whose task is to collect six chemical flasks from a bewildering series of mazes. The flasks are randomly located at the start of play but you can bet they'll be spread all over the place. The maze is made up of lots of mushrooms and other exotic, colourful and generally chemically mutated plants. Amongst these fly the equally mutated bits of animal and plant life which are definitely hazardous to your health.
A jet-pack is the means of propulsion around the mazes, allowing up and down movement and walking (no animation). As you travel the maze does a cross between scrolling and flick screens, flicking along part of a screen at a time.
The suit you're wearing can only take so many collisions with the chemically lethal mutants, as they drain the suit energy. Creatures can be blasted using your gun that fires fluffy, but lethal, balls. This only fires horizontally though and it is possible to get trapped for precious seconds below or above a vicious mutant. These take some very colourful and well animated forms like snapping jaws, bug-eyed insects and altogether less identifiable beasts. You can also deal with these using smart bombs that are found lying about and which kill everything on screen.
There are plenty of objects lying around for you to pick up by walking over them and these have three types of purpose. Some give energy, others drain it and there are also keys to access new areas of the maze. The flasks are picked up in the same way and look like little coloured fairy cakes. You have to discover what everything is by trial and error but some objects do nothing leaving little puzzling after the first few games.
New areas of the maze are denoted by 'frog' gates with two green frogs on either side. You can only pass through these with a key but it leads to more of the same.
The graphics are amongst the most stunning I've seen but the gameplay leaves something to be desired. Once you've worked out what the objects do (not that hard!), it becomes just a matter of whizzing round blasting everything in sight looking for flasks, energy and keys. There is still a strong attraction and a tough challenge but the game lacks that vital extra mental aspect that arcade adventures need.
Yes indeed - stunning graphics. Colourful, beautifully drawn, give me a poster fror the parlour wall. But the game is a little too familiar in concept to present an outstanding challenge. It's still very good, but doesn't quite make it to the top.
P. Large playing area.
P. Marvellous scenery and characters.
P. Testing shoot-'em-up action.
P. Will take quite a lot of getting through.
N. Not much mental challenge.
N. No high score table! Unbelievable!