Road Runner

by Canvas: James Bagley, Dawn Drake, Martin Holland, Kevin Connelly, Scott Johnson, Fred Gray
US Gold Ltd
Crash Issue 43, August 1987   (1987-07-30)   page(s) 96

Producer: US Gold
Retail Price: £8.99

Along the roadways of the wilds of North America Ascuttles Roadrunner, the egged meeping, beeping bird. In paw-blistering pursuit of this elongated sprinter comes the sharp nosed Mr Wile E Coyote, intent upon digging his canines into his prey's scrawny neck.

To escape his flesh-ripping fate Roadrunner can out-sprint the coyote. But if nothing else, the prairie wolf is a persistent carnivore, and he's quite willing to pursue his avian adversary on paw, pogo stick, skateboard and even jet-powered skateboard.

The speeding bird has five fives which are lost if he's hit by an approaching truck, runs into one of the scattered boulders, or isn't spritely enough and ends up cuddling the coyote. Roadrunner can also meet his four feather fall by dropping into gaping crevasses, or stepping upon exploding mines. However both fates can be avoided by leaping over them.

But our hero's energy is not limitless, and he must gather seeds while he may to recoup his falling reserves. When a seed is missed an on screen message is displayed. Should he fail to pick up five seeds in a row, our sprinting songster faints with hunger and becomes easy poultry for the hungry coyote. But the seeds are not all they seem, some are rich in iron filings, and once lodged in Road Runner's gizzard, Mr Wile can use his powerful magnet to slow down the pesky bird.

Other features include invisible paint spilled upon the road, should either creature run through it, then both become invisible (making Roadrunner difficult to catch, but coyote hard to avoid), and lemonade, with points being scored by the gallant bird for the mouthfuls gulped.

For extra points Roadrunner can play chicken and let the ravening beast get close, then with a burst of speed leave him, poking out his tongue as he goes!


Control keys: Q/A up/down, O/P left/right, M to jump
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor
Use of colour: attractive, and suitably desert-like
Graphics: nicely defined, but clashes often lose the detail
Sound: excellent
Skill levels: one
Screens: scrolling

Beep, beep! Well, the sound is fabulous, I've never heard so many well composed tunes in one game. The graphics are average but the pictures of Road Runner and the Coyote around the edge of the screen are brill. The scrolling landscape behind Roady is done well and is very colourful as are all the other sprites running around the screen. The only thing that gets on my nerves is the way you have to load each level as you come to it. And if you on level two and you get you have to load level again. Quite good, but need a pretty strong recorder to put up with Unloading and re-loading?

I was quite Impressed by the presentation of Road Runner - the title screen, with the attractive border and tune (I played the 128 version) were all very nice, but when I started on the game, I was in for a disappointment. The in-game graphics aren't exactly stunning, as colour has been overused to the detriment of the reasonable characters, and I was most annoyed by the machine's finickiness over the placing of Road Runner in order to pick up a pile of seed. Overall, quite reasonable if you're a big fan of the cartoon, but as a stand alone game, it's a bit of a let down.

Road Runner is the latest in a long line of arcade conversions, and this game doesn't really improve their image. On the whole the graphics are reasonable with smooth animation but the old problem of attribute clash rears its ugly head once again. The music is actually quite good but I found the poor quality of the Spectrum's sound department meant that it soon became a bit grating. Road Runner's a very simple game; it doesn't take many goes to get into the style of play but I found some initial frustration with the controls to be off putting. If you're a fan of the arcade original then take a look, but I would say that it would be wise to play before buying.

Presentation: 78%
Graphics: 73%
Playability: 75%
Addictive Qualities: 72%
Overall: 73%

Summary: General Rating: Far from the best tie-in/conversion yet, but despite some let down on the graphics, still a reasonably playable and addictive game.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 22, October 1987   page(s) 37

I think the really wacky way to start a review on this game would be to say "Meep meep", but I really couldn't handle the resulting arguments... you know, some say he says "Meeb meeb", others "Beeb beeb", "Beep beep", or even "Mbeep mbeep"... C'mon guys, it's only a cartoon series!

Any road up, after the Road Runner cartoon, came Road Runner the Atari arcade game. You play the part of the Road Runner, nipping around the vertical screen pecking up the little piles of seed. You're pursued by Wile E Coyote, and you really have to get up some speed and fancy cornering to escape his clutches. The Acme Trucking company is best avoided, too, unless you want to end up as a hood ornament on one of its trucks.

The conversion of a 16 bit arcade game, with all its colours and music is a tricky thing for the Speccy, as we've discovered in the past, and although Speccy Road Runner is predictably primitive compared to it's coin-op counterpart, it doesn't suffer as much as some have.

The game takes place in a vertical section of the Speccy screen, imitating the format of the original, which scrolls back and forth as you struggle to pick up the piles of seed to keep you going along the road. Unlike most scrolling games, you can actually go back on yourself and get the piles you you missed, which is handy 'cos you miss quite a lot. As you progress along the road it forks and turns, and you have to keep pecking. running, and thinking so's you don't take the wrong fork. The screen has some depth, so you can go 'in' to the screen and 'out' towards the bottom, which means you can follow the twisty roads if you're quick enough, but the thing is that while you are bound to the paths, Coyote can run straight across the terrain. At the top of the screen is a seed meter which tells you how you're doing for seed, if you miss too many piles, you run out of juice.

If this had been an original arcade game. it probably wouldn't have rated very highly at all, but as it's a conversion it actually comes out quite well, with most of the qualities of the coin-op showing through in the finished Speccy version. It's fast and addictive, and though the graphics are a little eccentric 'cos of attribute problems, they are funny enough to carry the game. Especially the bit where the Coyote is chasing you on a jet-powered skateboard! Great fun.

Graphics: 7/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Summary: A true enough conversion of the popular arcade game, with lots to recommend. Good clean cartoon fun.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 64, July 1987   page(s) 24,25

In sharp contrast to Taipan, it is pretty easy to summarise Roadrunner. You control Roadrunner and as you'd expect you run away as much as possible. Over a variety of scrolling desert landscapes you continue the age-old battle between an obscure desert bird and its arch adversary the Coyote.

The spirit of the cartoon and indeed the coin-op of which this is a conversion, has been faithfully captured. The desert landscape has been drawn in surprisingly impressive detail. The scrolling is even half-way smooth. More disappointing is the size of the two protagonists - tiny little sprites. You get used to it, but surely they could be bigger. Maybe part of the reason is speed.

The success of the game (and the cartoon) is the sense of crazed pace at which chases occur. You run around the desert paths with the coyote Always only steps behind, losing time when Roadrunner has to stop and peck up seed.

As the level increases the desert paths get more and more twisty - any time lost by bumping into passing rocks or worse still, running up blind paths, brings the Coyote that little bit nearer. You can't afford to make many mistakes. Quite apart from the Coyote - who pursues you relentlessly - there is every chance that Roadrunner will be run down by one of the countless Acme trucks that zoom down the desert highway. The Acme Co are on their way to deliver.... the other feature of the game! Which is a wide array of whacky objects that the Coyote uses to get ahead of you. These include such authentic Roadrunner cartoon gems as jet-powered skateboards and pogo sticks.

That's about it really. The game has quite a lot going for it in the thrills-and-spills dept - it's certainly fast anyway, and the backgrounds are fairly good.

On the minus side are the minescule central graphics.

One surprising additional plus is the cleverness of the music at the beginning of the game which plays the Sabre Dance (I think) most effectively - can this be a Spectrum? But then during the game you get almost no sound whatsoever - rather disappointing in fact.

How entertaining you find the game will almost totally depend on your sense of humour (do you like seeing things go splat?) and how much you like being chased. (A sizeable proportion of you would, I suspect, rather do the chasing - and, of course, there's no blasting.)

If both of these things score highly you'll like Roadrunner but if big graphics are more your bag - well I can see all those Write Stuff letters saying we gave this far too many stars already...

Label: US Gold
Author: In-house
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Various
Reviewer: Ricky Sullivan

Overall: 7/10

Summary: Straightforward chase game - which captures the original cartoon quite well - let down by small graphics.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 26, November 1989   page(s) 114

Encore, £2.99
C64, Spec, Amstrad

This Atari coin-op gobbled stacks of coins when it appeared in the arcades early in 1987. It made the strange decision to cast the games player as the Road Runner rather than Wile E Coyote - the hapless hero of the cartoons who never quite manages to catch that darned bird. The aim is to put as much distance between you (Road Runner) and Wile E as possible.

All of the frills of the coin-op are here - the puff off smoke at Road Runner's feet as he hops on the jet powered skate board, for example. There is also the pogo stick escape route and the various bits of grain to be gobbled up by the bird as he moves. A simple but amusing conversion of the Atari coin-op. Good fun - even if you only get a few days challenge out of it.

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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