On the Run

by Graham Stafford, Jon Ritman, Stuart J. Ruecroft
Design Design Software
Crash Issue 20, Sep 1985   page(s) 24,25

Producer: Design Design
Memory Required: 48K
Retail Price: £6.90
Language: Machine code
Author: Graham Stafford and Stuart J. Ruecroft

Design Design have produced some pretty spectacular games in the past so it was interesting to follow the development of On the Run from it's early days as an idea in a Public House to the finished game on the - seemingly - public CRASH software desk. The inlay itemises the features of the game, the most striking of which is an abundance of mushrooms. Also listed are the features not included: orchids; buns and leg warmers. Almost certainly too many late nights writing this one chaps!

Essentially, what Graham and Stuart have cooked up here is a very large and complex maze game. You play the part of Rick Swift, or Rick for short. Rick is the sort of character that makes the news pages for doing-good. This time he has bitten off a little more than he can chew. Anxious that his next stunt should make the front page of every marmalade stained morning rag, Rick accepted a task from the Defence Department to clean up an area that had become contaminated by a spillage of chemical weapons. The plants and wild life that had lived the sort of quiet life normally enjoyed by plants and wildlife, have now suffered from the effects of the chemicals, to such an extent that most of them have mutated into such strange forms and become so miffed by man in general, for his callousness, that they really want to get their own back. Since Rick is the idiot going into the zone he is going to have to cope with the angry mutations which include anything from giant mushrooms to a pair of body-less jaws.

The Ministry had the decency to equip Rick with a suit which will protect him from the effects of the chemicals in the zone. His jet pack helps him move around at speed, which is just as well because the six remaining flasks that must be collected will degrade in one hour - then Rick will be dealing with something a sight more dangerous than a bunch of angry mutated flowers. The suit works well except when it comes into contact with one of the mutations, then it starts to degrade and, unless its energy is restored, will reach the point when it is useless and Rick will pass away.

There are lots of weird and wonderful objects lying around the maze. Generally they produce one of four effects: death; more energy; get you into another zone or... do absolutely nothing at all. The mushrooms are the best and safest source of energy but for everything else you will have to experiment. With regard to the mobile objects within the maze the best action is to zap everything, ask questions later. To make life a little easier you should discover a few smart bombs littered around the place. These are very useful for clearing areas full of mobile mutants. The maze itself is very large, weighing in at something over 300 screens, and is divided into a number of sections. However, you can only move from one section to another if you have collected one particular object from the area you are already in.

Above the main display a bar graph lets you know the condition of your suit, and above that a clock tells you how much time is left before the flasks degrade. If you collect any smart bombs they will be shown underneath the empty slots waiting to be filled with collected flasks. Points are awarded for killing the mutants and your score is updated at the top left of the screen. The only thing Design Design left out was their traditional high score table, still they do apologise, so that's OK.


Control keys: definable
Joystick: any
Keyboard play: responds well
Use of colour: very attractive
Graphics: superb
Sound: limited but it has good squidgy spot effects
Skill levels: one
Lives: one, more energy can be collected
Screens: over 300

On The Run is an extremely colourful arcade adventure of the maze variety. The graphics are very neat and very smooth. The game is instantly playable. It includes some very nice touches, for example you can't go through some entrances until you have picked up an object. There is such a variety of objects to pick up it will be some time you manage to assess the value or danger of any of them. Worthy of a CRASH Smash.

Where's the front end? I was really looking forward to the huge list of options that seem to have become a Design Design hallmark. Not even a high score table this time, whats the idea chaps? However, after the opening disappointment I was pleased by the really superb graphics - in a way they reminded me of Jetpac from Ultimate. I loved the wide variety of different creatures that inhabit the playing area. Some of them bear a vague resemblance to creatures found in fantasy games. The maze is separated into sections, and frogs guard the entrance to each one. Each new section has more nasties in it so it's tougher to stay alive. Generally I enjoyed playing this game, but what's more I can see myself doing so for the next couple of months.

My friend lent me his Spectrum when mine collapsed after running this game, but what a way to go! A highly colourful game with great graphics for the various flora and fauna. The irrepressible Design Design humour comes through very strongly, I especially loved the gnashing teeth. The objective is pretty simple but the sheer size of the game demands great stamina and good joystick-jockeying. The things at Des-Des should be proud of this one.

Use of Computer: 90%
Graphics: 92%
Playability: 85%
Getting Started: 89%
Addictive Qualities: 93%
Value For Money: 85%
Overall: 91%

Summary: General Rating: An excellent game which should appeal.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 19, Oct 1985   page(s) 44

Rick: Flower power is the name of the game in this lazy, mazy arcade adventure. As Ace investigator Rick Swift you have to discover six flasks of dangerous chemicals before they go critical - which takes about an hour. I got critical of this after ten minutes. But then I've got no patience - especially if there's danger involved!

So what exactly are you "on the run" from? Along the way you're plagued by mutations of plant and animal life that sap the power out of your protective suit. It makes a change to be eaten by rather than eat a mushroom.

With all the thrills and none of the spills of actually living near Windscale, nice light joystick control and enough freaky fungoid and gnashing teeth to rouse anyone's blood lust, this is a good solid game with few failings but no novel fascination. There's no maze map or preview facility so there are plenty of occasions when you'll float unwittingly into a field of ferocious flora and fauna. That's when those smart bombs are so handy. A goodish buy if you've no equivalent. But otherwise don't bother. 6/10

Ross: This game is quite a departure from the usual offerings. The graphics are quite pretty, but the Jetman doesn't get very animated. It's not in the running for any great accolades. 6/10

Dougie: Not a game for garden lovers - you'll soon find yourself walking around your backyard hesitantly! The game is competent, but nothing special. Take a good look at it before you decide. 7/10

Ross: 6/10
Rick: 6/10
Dougie: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 42, Sep 1985   page(s) 24

Publisher: Design Design
Price: £6.90
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston, Protek, Sinclair

This is a hybrid game combining features from Sabre Wulf and the more recent Nodes of Yesod.

Mushrooms are a prominent feature and crop up all over the place - magic mushrooms, deadly mushrooms and energy mushrooms. In fact, those fungi are most important when it comes down to finding six cannisters of a deadly chemical from the depths of a jungle maze.

You have only one hour in which to complete your mission and retrieve the chemicals - no easy task as there are a variety of mutants, gnashing teeth and star fish out to kill.

Various indescribable objects will help or hinder your task. The cassette inlay suggests shooting anything which moves. Much of the maze involves descending and ascending tunnels - here you are at your most vulnerable, falling between two narrow walls with little room to shoot the mutants. It is frustrating that you can only fire forwards and at varying angles but not up and down or behind you. That does make the game harder.

On the Run will take longer than an hour to complete at first and at the same time it is fun though unoriginal.

You have probably seen and played it all before, but if you like this type of challenge and want another variation on an Ultimate theme, then buy it.

Overall: 3/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 49, Nov 1985   page(s) 27

MACHINE: Spectrum/Amstrad
SUPPLIER: Design Design
PRICE: £6.90

Design Design have built up a cult following with games like Dark Star - which contained some rude comments about C+VG but we won't hold that against them.

With On the Run the DD team have come up with a more mainstream maze type arcade adventure set on a planet where the vegetation has gone wild! You play the part of Rick Swift, a Defence Department trouble-shooter. Your mission is to find six deadly flasks filled with the chemical which created the mutant blooms before they become active!

Within the maze you'll find other items. Some are obviously helpful like the smart bombs and the energy giving magic mushrooms. But others offer other strange powers which you have to work Out for yourselves.

The graphics on both Amstrad and Spectrum versions are excellent - and the game is extremely playable.

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 9/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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