It's showtime! And I don't mean that silly gameshow Bob's Every Second 3-2-1 Catch That Bullseye. Ooo super, smashing, great you've won a rubber bully! This is the highest-rated show in history, The Running Man. A deadly cat-and-mouse game where the contestant battles for the big prize- survival. Well that's what happens when you deregulate television. The funny thing, though, is Wogan isn't hosting this primetime gameshow, it's a bloke called Damon Killion who also happened to invent it.
Set in the year 2019, the USA has become a totalitarian state and only television distracts the people from their plight.
Ben Richards (played by our old friend Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a cop and while flying above a crowd of protesters in a big police chopper he is ordered to shoot at anything that moves. Being the sort of person who doesn't like murdering hundreds of innocent women and children he refuses and ends up in a high security prison (oh dear).
Anyway to cut a long story short... The End. No, I mean he escapes again but is eventually caught again and given the choice of going back to prison or playing The Running Man. This is where the fun begins, well for you at least.
But what of the Spectrum version of this blood-thirsty film? The title sequence with Ben shouting 'I'll be back!' at Killion and then shooting down a big chute is a neat touch. Each zone has a nasty stalker to be killed and they get more difficult as you progress. Subzero is in the ice rink, he has a razor sharp hockey stick and explosive pucks; Buzzsaw is in the suburbs with a big chainsaw; Dynamo is a fat opera singer who fires electric bolts, and Fireball inhabits the complex and does what you'd expect him to do.
All the sprites are well animated and recognisable. Sound includes some neat effects, with a tune and digitized speech at the beginning of the game. The only problem with The Running Man is that it's a bit difficult, the puzzle stage in which you have to work out the satellite link-up code in particular.
The Running Man is an enjoyable game overall and I would definitely recommend it even if you are not a fan of the film.
I haven't even seen the film, so I suppose that puts me in rather weak position to comment on the accuracy of the tie-in. As a stand-alone game, though, it's very enjoyable, so I suppose it makes no difference whether or not you like (or have even ever heard of) the film! The graphics are very good: the scrolling is smooth, and the characters are excellently animated.
While the game itself isn't ridiculously difficult, it's challenging, and ought to last a decent player for a few weeks at the very least. I have to have a moan about the between-stage section, which is completely and totally impossible - maybe we're just rubbish at puzzle solving, but I can't help thinking that it's a bit too frustrating. Even so The Running Man is pretty and I'll be playing it for a while to come.