1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
Take the New York subway system, throw in a hovercraft cruising at 900 MPH, and you have S.T.U.N. RUNNER, the latest Atari Games' arcade sensation adapted for the Lynx. The game starts off simple enough: just drive your S.T.U.N. sled up, down, and around a twisting course of tunnels and walkways, trying to finish it in the brief amount of time given. Complicating the matter are the other cars in the passages, trying to ram and slow you down, as well as passing jets trying to bomb your craft. While firing back, you must keep an eye on the track, for reckless driving will slow you down, which can cost you the race. There are over 20 levels, each with its own variety of twists, branches, jumps, and obstacles.
S.T.U.N. RUNNER on the Lynx is both a thrilling action game and another shining translation. In terms of action, the gameplay is fast and furious, requiring you to negotiate the twisting track, deal with opponents, and go for bonuses all at the same time. Enemies may be dodged or destroyed, though you can unleash a road-clearing Shockwave if things get too thick. The only time you really get to relax is while examining the map between races.
As a conversion, S.T.U.N. RUNNER offers all of the game features found in the original. Each of the arcade courses have been faithfully duplicated, with the same combination of narrow tunnels, jump ramps, and other track features. Similarly, the opposing vehicles are as varied and tenacious as ever, blocking your path in the most annoying ways. Finally, challenge stages are scatted throughout the game for extra points.
There are a few imperfections, but they are very minor. The steering controls are a little sensitive, and beginning players will tend to oversteer. The problem is not critical, however, and players will adapt to them in a short time. The Lynx version is also harder than the arcade game: turning improperly into a curve will slow down your craft significantly. Coupled with the tight time limits on each track, this can cost you the race.
S.T.U.N. RUNNER on the Lynx exploits the graphics engine completely. While the original game drew everything with filled polygons, this version duplicates it with scaled sprites. The end result is not as refined, but the action is incredibly fast -- you really get the sensation of flying at supersonic speeds. Distinctive-looking enemies, sharp backgrounds, and intermissions round out the sensational effects.
Sounds are also very good, with a constant barrage of blasts, screeches, and explosions pulling you into the action. Even better, sound effects and voices are digitized from the original game, giving strategies, tips, and encouragement throughout.
This game is a high-quality production from beginning to end, retaining all of the action, thrills, and speed of the original game. The Lynx's abilities are exploited to the fullest, making this version of S.T.U.N. RUNNER a fully-loaded action extravaganza and the best adaptation now available for any machine.
GAMEPLAY: 9 GRAPHICS: 9.5 SOUND: 9 OVERALL: 9