S.T.U.N. Runner logo

DOMARK £24.99 * Joystick

Spread Tunnel Underground Network Runners are a new kind of hero, or so those Tengen coin-op people would have us believe. Boy racers of the future, they hurtle along in high-speed bobsleds through specially created tunnels crammed with everything from tube trains to aggro droids. As a STUN Runner you face 24 challenging levels of twists and turns, ramps and runs.

That's the story, the fact was that STUN Runner came and conquered the arcades a few months back. It was a high-speed challenge that warped minds as boost pads hurled Runners forward at scale speeds of over 900 mph.

The game is simple. You control a motorless craft that skates down a tube. By riding the outside of tunnel walls momentum builds up allowing the STUN sled to reach the end of a section within the time limit. Point scoring stars and high-speed boost pads line the walls of the tunnel and they become increasingly difficult to reach as the game progresses.

To gain variety challenges are set on levels that lead to bonus runs. These can be to collect a number of bonus stars, destroying as many drone ships as possible, or giving the Runner a choice of different routes.

Tube Hogs
Along the STUN Running road you'll find wire-frame sections that drag you to a stop and outdoor runs that constrict you in order to test your steering skills. The guns on the front of the sled allow Runners to blast tube hogs out of the way as well as score points.

That's the theory: a high-speed ramp run in a tube. The practice however is somewhat different. They are not so much STUN Runners, as STUN Joggers, as the game lacks blinding speed. IT's tolerably quick, but lacks the terrifying edge of the arcade, even on boost. Without this uncontrollable pace STUN is little more than a futuristic bobsled run.

The graphics suffer in translation too, the sled for example doesn't take any damage; a feature which seriously hampered your chances in the arcade version. The pick-ups are vague and this hinders the game. The only way to recover time is by collecting boost pads, but if you stray from the racing line to get them and they don't register, the lost seconds prove critical and extremely annoying.

Shadow of The Beast?
Other factors have been faithfully replicated from the arcade, with varying degrees of success. The sound effects, while tedious, (one 'bing' for each and every star of the 134 stage) are true to the coin op.

The maps that are used to introduce your next level are indistinct enough to be useless, but this doesn't hamper gameplay because most routes lead towards the finishing post anyway, but if a feature is there it should serve a purpose.

STUN Runner's a shadow of its coin-op self. It's pleasant enough, with fun touches, yet these simply tempt thoughts of what might have been. As a playable game it works well but to use the obvious pun, it is never stunning even when running at full tilt. As a conversion it doesn't come close to emulating the arcade version that churned the stomach and dazzled the eyes.

S.T.U.N. Runner logo

Als wir Anfang letztes Jahres die Arcade-Vorlage für's Coin Op getestet haben, war ich von der rasanten Jagd durch Vektor-Tunnel hellauf begeistert. Ehrlich, ich konnte Domarks Amigaumsetzung kaum noch erwarten.

Jetzt, nach den ersten Proberunden, bin ich wieder recht unsaft auf dem Boden der Tatsachen gelandet. Dabei kommt das Game bis auf eine "Kleinigkeit" erstaunlich nahe ans Original heran: Auch hier hat man vor dem Start die Wahl zwischen drei unterschiedlich schweren Strecken durch ein verschlungenes Tunnelsystem in ausgefüllter Vektorgrafik.

Mit einem futuristischem Gleiter düst man in Bobfahrermanier die Wände entlang und bemüht sich Bonussymbole zu erhaschen, die für eine Art Smartbomb sorgen. Diese "Shockwaves" sind wichtig, weil sich manche der ebenfalls in den Röhren umherschwirrenden Gegner von der regulären Bordkanone nicht beeindrucken lassen.

Ab und an tauchen Turbo-Rampen auf, die das Gefährt nochmals beschleunigen - dann wird der Gleiter nur noch als Glitterrahmen dargestellt und ist für den Moment unzerstörbar.

So weit, so gut. Nun sind Musik und Effekte zwar schauderhaft (das Klingeln beim Aufsammeln der Bonussterne erinnert fatal an die Registrierkasse im Kinder-Kaufmannsladen), aber die Grafik sieht nicht mal so übel aus. Bloß: Sie ruckelt gar fürchterlich und ist viel, viel zu langsam! Und damit wäre auch schon das ganze Game abgehakt, denn der Automat lebt ja einzig und allein von seiner atemberaubenden Geschwindigkeit. Schade um die ordentliche Joysticksteuerung, schade um die vergebene Chance auf eine spektakuläre Arcadeumsetzung! (ml)

S.T.U.N. Runner logo

STUN Runner is essentially futuristic bobsledding with bells on. The object is to pilot your STUN craft around 24 tracks without crashing or running out of time. The STUN craft is capable of reaching 900mph, though due to the game's lack of speed this effect is somewhat lost. Drone craft also race round the track, crashing into one slows you down and depletes your ship's shields.

Each track must be completed within the allotted time, and there isn't much of a margin for error - for instance, track one is supposed to be the training levels; but if you make one mistake, there's no way you can complete it. It's problems like these that severely damage the gameplay.

An average track is made up from two elements: roadways and tunnels. Roads are easy enough to negotiate, although they do occasionally narrow restricting movement and making life very difficult. Tunnels can cause all sorts of problems, too. To take a corner without slowing down you have to manoeuvre the STUN ship on the outer wall. This was tricky on the arcade machine as the higher the craft was on the tunnel wall. On the Amiga version, though, the STUN craft can quite happily sit halfway upa tunnel wall without causing you any problems.

The graphics inside the tunnel are very basic. The shading on the tunnel walls has been removed, so now it looks like you're flying through a tube of multi-coloured fruit Polos. Apart from that, flying through a tube of multi-coloured vehicles are as close to the original as you are likely to get.

The main criticism regards the speed at which the tunnels and roads come towards you. Speed is essential to this game, and it's sadly lacking on the Amiga version. There's no real reason why this version should run as slow as it does.

Obviously, there's no way the Amiga can emulate the coin-op exactly; but it's a very capable machine and, when exploited to its full potential, has the speed, sound, multi tasking and graphics capabilities to give the 16-bit 'arcade quality' consoles a run for their money. This should have, and could have, been a far better conversion. Speedmongers, though, should try elsewhere.

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Tengen/Domark, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

You've done some Hard Drivin', but have you tried 900mph speed racing in the 21st century's Spread Tunnel Underground Network Runner? Taking on all contenders and the tightest of time limits you race through the 24 tunnel networks, the twists and turns getting wilder and crazier with each new level.

The Runner is initially unarmed but progression sees wing pods added and lasers for disposing of annoying drones and mag cycles that can slow you down. Avoid the armoured drones though; they're indestructible.

The Runner can climb up onto the sides of the tunnel walls to keep up speed. Running over boost pads gives extra acceleration and allows the Runner to loop over the top of the tunnel. Ramps lift it momentarily into the air over obstacles. Collecting 30 green stars (blocks on the C64) gives a Shockwave (smart-bomb) for use later on.

Three skill levels allow the Runner to start on selected stages of the network with two continue-plays. Also in the game are Challenge Levels consisting purely of boost pads where the Runner has to race over as many pads as possible to get into the Booster Bunch Hall Of Fame. The prize for the fastest Runners is a chance at the Ultimate Challenge track where everything is thrown at the player.

Phil King I'm stunned by just how bad this is, especially the pathetic Amiga version. The exhilarating speed of the coin-op has been replaced by amazingly sluggish 3-D - it's more like a Sunday drive than a race! Without the speed, you're left with some very limited gameplay: running over bonuses and turbo pads while avoiding or shooting the odd nasty. There's hills to ride over but it's deadly dull. The C64 game is actually faster than the Amiga with a decent speed effect, but ultimately suffers from the same lack of content. Not a bad effort, though.
Robin Hogg I adored the coin-op so I was wary of this one following the disastrous C64 Hard Drivin'. I hoped for something at least passable, especially with ex-Ocean programmer Zach Townsend behind the C64 version, and I almost got it with a good main sprite, accurate tunnel perspective and some of the coin-op's presentation. I was pleasantly surprised by its looks. Pity about the actual tunnel effect: it's faster than I expected, but still relatively slow with limited types of turn and a severe lack of side object graphics. After Drivin', Runner really wasn't a possibility but it looks fairly close to the coin-op so well done for that, but otherwise half marks for sacrificing the fun of the game.
The Amiga version is just one bad dream, with a less convincing 3-D effect than the C64! Sure, it's got all the vehicles and side graphics but it's too slow-paced to keep even me hooked. I feel the need for speed and I'm not getting it here. To top it all, the pale colour scheme suggests a PC or ST port-across and the weak graphic of the Runner looks like bits have fallen off it!