by David W. Harper, Lee Gibbons
Ariolasoft UK Ltd
Crash Issue 31, Aug 1986   page(s) 22

Producer: Ariolasoft
Retail Price: £8.95
Author: Dave Harper

Toadrunner - half man, half frog - has been trapped inside a tortuous maze. Hidden within the maze is the beautiful Princess who would be rather glad to be rescued, even if it is by a one-eyed, slimy frog being. No doubt when she bestows a girlie kiss on his revolting forehead he'll turn into a handsome prince - but there's a lot to sort out before that can happen.

Mr Toad must scamper around the colourful rooms in the Stone Master's castle looking for objects to assist him in his quest to destroy the Stone Master and release the Princess. The intrepid natterjack must collect those which he thinks will help him and ignore those which are useless. Toadrunner has four pockets and they can be used to store objects until he can think of a use for them.

Only four objects can be carried at one time and these can be dropped or picked up when necessary. If the toad wants to use an object, then he must first make sure that it is nestling comfortably in pocket number four. A press of the fire or'use' button brings it into action. All the objects in the game are displayed on the menu screen before the game starts, with labels to assist identification.

The Stone Master's castle is a sinister hole and quite unpleasant even to a horrible warty toad. It is filled with nasty winged sprites who mercilessly pursue the toady hero, sapping his strength with every onslaught. The Stonemaster's ugliest henchmen guard the exits from some of the rooms - their touch is usually deadly, and there are only five lives to play with. The guards can be disposed of eventually, but the right object has to be in Toady's pocket for each guardian...

Exits are marked by gaps in the dungeon walls. They may be attended by the nasty guardians or they may be open. Sometimes, there is more than one exit, and this is where Toad starts to with that God had given small amphibious creatures psychic powers. Only one of these triple exits leads safely to the other room. The other two lead to certain death, and it's no use trying to memorise which of the three exits is the right one, because they change every time Toad tries to pass through a set of portals.

Although toads can remain out of water for a white, evolution has not yet provided them with the ability to survive indefinite spells on land. After seventy-five Toad Time Units have elapsed, our hero dehydrates and death is usually fairly imminent. After six Toad Time Units have elapsed, a thief appears on the screen. He snatches any object he can get his hands on. Fortunately, the thief can only carry one object at a time and is very greedy with it. If he sees another object within close proximity, he drops the original object and snatches the new one. The robber can be killed, but despatching him while he's holding an object means that object is lost from the game - and may make finding the Princess impossible.

A percentage readout in the status area shows how much of the adventure has been completed. The contents of Toad's four pockets are revealed, together with the energy icon which turns black as energy is lost. A clock keeps track of Toadtime.

And all for the love of a Princess.


Control keys: redefinable
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair and Protek
Keyboard play: fairly responsive
Use of colour: very colourful
Graphics: quite well drawn
Sound: mundane
Skill levels: one
Screens: 55

Toadrunner's bears an immediate resemblance to the ELECTRIC DREAMS release, Riddlers Den. Briefly, the scenario concerns one lovesick prince in the guise of an overweight reptile. He searches for his princess in the hope she'll transform his slimy body to something more desirable. Original? I think not. Graphically, it's no more than adequate, with our reptilian hero wobbling through the game. Gameplay is all too familiar it's an average arcade adventure with no features that haven't been implemented better elsewhere. Fans of David Harpers earlier game will no doubt love this one, but it's a bit too expensive to my mind.

I must confess to not having seen Riddlers Den, so I approached Toadrunner with a completely open mind. The presentation of the game is very neat and colourful, with some good drawing on the loading and title screens. The sound is a bit of a let down, as it only consists of a few whirrs and clicks. The graphics are very colourful and to avoid character clashes, the author has made sure that the characters don't invade each other's character space. I felt that Toadrunner was good to look at, but the actual gameplay was very poor unless you are into puzzles. It's a bit hard to play and suffers from poor collision detection.

Definitely Riddlers Den II, except that this is probably near to impossible to complete. The graphics used are colourful and fairly well drawn. The characters move around the screen nicely and your frog has a novel wobble! The sound is generally run-of-the-mill stuff, with effects during the game and a loud shrieking noise when you begin or end a game. The game itself is infuriating: the random triple exits tend to kill you off rather suddenly and introduce a frustrating element of pot luck into the game. You'd have to be very persistent to complete the game - one for Riddlers Den tans and masochists everywhere!

Use of Computer: 79%
Graphics: 76%
Playability: 65%
Getting Started: 71%
Addictive Qualities: 69%
Value for Money: 68%
Overall: 68%

Summary: General Rating: A very difficult sequel to Riddlers Den.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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