Sinclair User12th November 1990
Published in Sinclair User #108
Several words come to mind on first viewing S.T.U.N. Runner. "Innovative"; "impressive"; "exciting"; none of these are included in the list.
At first I thought it was just me. Surely a Tengen coin-op conversion by Domark, based on a hot-shot Atari ride-on machine, couldn't be all bad? Surely I was missing something? But no - S.T.U.N. Runner is, by common consent, quite dire.
The "awesome three-dimensional world" of S.T.U.N. Runner looks like something from a very old budget game which might have score about 51% from a very generous reviewer. The IBM PC screenshots on the packaging, needless to say, look great.
You pilot a Spread Tunnel Underground Network (?!) Runner, a small drone which you hove to glide through 24 levels of tedium. There's no real explanation of the plot or eventual aim of the game, but the tunnels and roods you have to negotiate are shown in map form before you embark on each mission, not that this appears to hove any effect on the gameplay.
In the main body of the game, me tunnels are represented using flashing bands of colour intended to give the impression of speed, but which actually give you little more than a headoche. You can swing your craft around the tunnel walls, watching out for stars which score you bonus points and which indicate the fastest routes. If you miss a star, your ship slows down.
Along the way you can also aim at Turbo Boost Pods which increase your speed to such a level that you pass unharmed through obstacles such as enemy ships. Alternatively, if you pick up Shockwave icons, you can release smart bombs which destroy everything on the screen, including the slow-moving Trains, fast Mag Cycles, groups of Drones, tougher Armoured Drones, and missile-launching Flyers which emerge from the distance.
Passing out of a tunnel you land on a roadway which twists and turns as in any car-racing game, except you don't have anything interesting in the backgrounds. There are also sections with a sort of spider-web background, but there's no significant variation in the action, which is uniformly ponderous, repetitive and dull.
Apart from the decent sound of the Spectrum version, the only consolation is that the CBM64 version is apparently worse, difficult though that is to imagine.
Label: Domark/Tengen Price: £9.99/£14.99 48/128K Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
It's almost a consolation to know that games this awful can still slip through the net.