Amstrad Computer User1st July 1989
Published in Amstrad Computer User #56
No-one paints a dark future like the master of horror Steven King, regardless of the name he is using at the time. The book inspired the film and from the film came the computer game.
The Running Man
Urban decay and renegade heros come together in the gameshow of the future; you are The Running Man.
Who better to play the reluctant hero than Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man with only one facial expression - it is time to die. The character he plays is Ben Richards, an upstanding cop who has been branded a criminal because he refused to fire on an unarmed gathering. Being a practical totalitarian, state prisoners are compelled to entertain the public before they die. The mode of execution is a hit television show which goes by the name of The Running Man.
Being an ordinary kind of guy, Richards is determined to survive and visit the host of the show, Damon Killian. On the way Richards will be able to tamper with the secret transmitter which lays within the kill zones.
The game starts with Richards vowing to return, followed by a quick chute ride to the first kill zone. There in the abandoned ice rink you will encounter SubZero, the brutal opponent equipped with a razor-sharp hockey stick and explosive pucks. Before reaching the archvillain you must cross several obstacles, including a pit - and contend with the guard dogs.
When fighting SubZero you must avoid the pucks he sends sliding across the floor and the odd swipe he takes with his stick while attempting to deliver a fatal series of punches and kicks.
Death occurs when your energy bar is depleted. At that stage you are deemed to be unconscious and no longer capable of continuing the game.
There are three ways to regain lost energy. One is to wait in a safe place - usually on top of an obstacle where the dogs cannot reach you - or to use the medical kits which can be found on later levels. The third method is to solve the puzzles which are encountered between levels.
The puzzle takes the form of two seats of icons arranged in circles. It is your task to rearrange the icons in the first circle so that they match the icons in the second. At any time two icons are highlighted. By pushing the joystick either to left or right results in the highlights moving to the next appropriate pair of icons. Pressing the fire button swaps the two highlighted icons.
Regardless of whether you complete the puzzle successfully or not you are off to the next level and a confrontation with Buzzsaw. As you run along the deserted streets in this section you will find two weapons and a medical kit. Throwing the brick at your opponent is effective but it has to be retrieved afterwards.
It is much better to bash your opponent with the lead pipe. Once again you must beware of the dogs which tend to get in the way during a final encounter and this time you must also watch for the tri-Teflon-coated chainsaw of Buzzsaw. At least that will not be one of those sticky situations.
After the puzzle it is on to the once bright lights of Los Angeles and the electrifying Dynamo. This fiend throws bolts of electrical power which must either be ducked under or jumped over or you face the consequences. To fight Dynamo you are armed with a spiked club.
The fourth and final kill zone is occupied by Fireball. Getting to grips with this opponent is not so easy as it seems as his flamethrower also functions as a jet pack. When on the ground this opponent shoots fireballs at our hero but judicious use of the shield protects Richards from harm.
The final section of the game takes place in the television studio where it all began. Before you can get your hands round
Killian's throat you must battle your way past more guards, both of the human and canine variety Using your gun you must take out the guards while avoiding their return fire and light your way to Killian and revenge.
Even the most hard-bitten combat freaks will enjoy this game as they encounter opponent after opponent, each with its own method of termination. The atmosphere is provided by a series of footsteps, rasping of chainsaws and the belch of flames, although you will probably be too busy avoiding the flak to appreciate those affects fully.