Amstrad Computer User

Raster Runner

Author: Gus Graham
Publisher: Mastertronic Plus
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Computer User #67

Mount your trusty plasma bike and prepare to dice with death on the Rasterfield.

Raster Runner

Mount your trusty plasma bike and prepare to dice with death on the Rasterfield.

Do you remember watching that fantasy epic Tron? You know, the one where computer boffin Jeff Bridges gets ripped off by an evil conglomerate and tries to break into their system, only to find himself disintegrated by a laser beam and transformed into a computer sprite. Very unfortunate.

Anyway, while he is there, he gets roped into a deathdefying motorcycle race with two of his companions on the Rasterfield, where the only normal outcome is a one way ticket to sprite heaven. Well, as you all probably know, he escaped and they all lived happily ever after, but that's another story.

Raster Runner

This one is all about that motorcycle race in question, and they are not called motorcycles, but Plasma Bikes. Quite what Plasma Bikes are supposed to run on, I don't know. Plasma, I suppose.

One way or another, it is the twenty third century and the nation's favourite pastime is to get down to the arena to see the Raster Runners at work. These heroes are the new equivalents of our contemporary Barry Sheenes and Randy Mamolas; the fastest things on two wheels and you have the chance of joining that hall of fame.

The Rasterfield is a large square arena laid out into a grid upon which you must race to the death against your opponent or the computer. The idea of the game is to make sure your opponent bites the dust before you do, leaving you to take all the glory, for one round, that is.

In each competition, both Runners have ten lives which means the whole race could be over in ten swift rounds, or it could just as easily be thrashed out over nineteen rounds.

Playing the computer gives you a difficulty option which is handy, but all of the levels seemed difficult to me as I pitted my wits against wily old Arnold. As the two bikes shoot into the fray, they leave behind them a solid trail of plasma. Hit any of these trails or the boundary wall of the arena and it's curtains for you. Just to help you out, you are allowed three energy shields in each round. Press fire to operate them and while your bike is flashing, you can pass through a trail unharmed. Remember to use them sparingly though.

Using a central radar screen you can tell exactly where you are on the arena, and there are also two more screens showing close-up detail of how close you and your opponent are to the trails and each other. Keep your eye on all three screens and you'll have the beating of your fellow Runner.

Raster Runner is a simple game, but it is incredibly playable and you will certainly get a kick out of forcing your opponent into instant obliteration against the trail. It is quite colourful and scrolling is effective within the confines of the screens.

As the meaty buzz of the Plasma Bikes fills the air, this is one showdown you can't refuse.

Gus Graham