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Posted on Feb 14th 2014 at 09:07:57 AM by (singlebanana)
Posted under Road Runner, Atari, 2600, VCS, Review

Game:  Road Runner
Genre: Action
Year:  1989
Publisher:  Atari
Developer:  Atari
Designer(s)/Programmer(s):  Bob Polaro
Rarity (according to AtariAge):  6 = Rare Plus
Controls:  Joystick
Number of Players:  1 - 2 (turn-based)
Average Cost:  approx. $10-$20 loose depending on condition
Also Available On:   Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, NES, and Atari arcade cabinet.

Tagline/Description: "Imagine yourself as the Road Runner in a Saturday morning cartoon. You are happily whizzing across the desert, racing along that black ribbon of highway. It's glorious! But the cunning Wile E. Coyote is out there somewhere. So watch out! He is planning to smash you to smithereens. He is also scheming to blast you with his ACME cannon in a very sneaky way."

In Atari's "Road Runner," you control the quick and loveable Looney Toons' character as he escapes the clutches of the ever-persistent Wile E. Coyote. "Road Runner" is a side scrolling action game, but unlike many titles that move from left to right, this game moves from right to left. In order to move down the highway, you must continually push the joystick left, while at the same time moving up and down to grab bird seed and avoid a variety of danger. In the meantime, you are pursued by Wile E. Coyote, who moves directly behind you and follows suit as you go up and down. This continual pattern of movement allows you to direct Wile E. Coyote into oncoming hazards such as traffic, land mines, and falling rocks. Though primarily a one-player game, two players can alternate turns in two-player mode. The two-player option is very good in that while playing, you are able to see your opponent's score and therefore, change you gameplay in order to catch up or extend your lead.

While traveling down the highway to reach your goal, you can earn additional points by gobbling up bird seed and by leading your pursuer into immediate danger. For each mound of bird seed you pick up, you earn 100 points and this number increases another 100 points, up to 1000 points, for each mound of seed you eat in consecutive order. For instance, the first mound is worth 100 points, the second 200, the third 300, and so on up to 1000 points. When you reach the 1000 point mark, each additional mound of seed you munch is worth 1000 points. Missing a mound of seed causes your consecutive point total to restart and return to 100 points. Eating a mound of steel shot also earns you 100 points, but the coyote's distance shortens as he has a magnet which pulls him closer.

Another way to accumulate points in Road Runner is to lead Wile E. Coyote into danger. Not only do you earn points, but most of the time this is the only way to slow down his pursuit. For each vehicle you lead him into, you receive 1000 points and for each land mine, falling rock, or cannonball he runs into, you receive an additional 200 points.

One of the most impressive features of this game is how it stays very true to the cartoon. Wile E. Coyote is armed with an assortment of ACME devices in his pursuit of the road runner including a magnet, rocket skates, land mines, cannons, and a ride-on rocket. As in the cartoon, these devices can be turned around and used against him by the clever road runner. The desert setting is quite good for a 2600 title, though not exceptionally impressive, it is suitable and works well with the game.

The most disappointing aspect of this game is the controls. The stiffness of the Atari joystick makes it difficult to move up and down the highway while at the same time holding it left to keep the road runner moving away from the coyote. The single joystick button is used to make the road runner jump and in my opinion is heavily underutilized in this game. The graphics are some of the best on the 2600 and this could have something to do with the game's late release (in fact, it is one of the last games released on this system). The road runner and coyote sprites are crisp and recognizable and I love the way their legs "cartoonily" evolve into brisk circles at top speed. The game's level music and sound effects are nothing special, but the Looney Toons score is clearly recognizable at the title/game select screen.

**video courtesy of highretrogamelord89**

The concept of this game is familiar due to its recognizable characters and plot line, and it has really good replay value. "Road Runner" is comprised of 8 levels, all of which are different and extremely challenging. This game is tough as you only have 3 lives, the levels become increasingly difficult, and that wiley coyote becomes faster and faster; however, when you lose a life, you get to start from where you captured or injured on the level. Due to the way the levels are set up, you have to employ various strategies to make it through. For instance, you can finish Level 1 on speed alone, Level 2 requires you to lead the coyote into land mines, and Level 3 requires you to keep the coyote a little closer because if he goes off screen too long, he will jump onto a rocket and catch up to you quickly. For a system that typically has very simple games, "Road Runner" proves to be one of the most diverse and challenging. For this reason, it has a very "one more time" replay value. Though "Road Runner" is a rare plus cartridge, oddly enough it is not very expensive and should be an essential title in any 2600 collection.

(on as scale of 1-4: 4 being the highest):

Controls:  2
Graphics:  4
Sound Effects/Music:  3
Concept:  4
Replay Value:  4
Overall Score: 3.4

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Very interesting. Does that game keep looping after you've finished the 8th round or is there a definitive ending to the game?
I really expected a higher price due to the rarity as well, but this surprised me.  I wonder if that has to do with supply?  Anyways, looks like a really fun game.
Crabby, I was wondering the same thing, but this game is exceedingly difficult. I couldn't make it past Stage 4 to find out. According to a thread started by "Deteacher" on AtariAge, the game goes past Level 8 to Level 9, but the boards repeat and are more difficult. For instance, in Level 9 the board layout is the same as Level 1, but there is steel shot, which you don't come across in Level 1. Also important to note that you get an extra life at 200k......if you can get that far. It seems that most people, myself included, have a really hard time making it past Level 4.

Bombatomba, I have seen CIB and even sealed copies of this game for around $20. I waited around for several months to get a loose copy of this game for under $10. I'm baffled at the price of this game due to its rarity as well.
Excellent post that we need more of! This might be my new favorite 2600 game Cheesy
[you can't edit comments?] I've never seen this game even on NES so I looked it up. Here's a picture of the arcade version. Look at that beast

[img width=700 height=244]http://www.gamesdbase.com/Media/SYSTEM/Arcade/CP/big/Road_Runner_-_1985_-_Atari.jpg[/img]

[img width=640 height=480]http://www.pingeek.com/challenge_arcade/challenge12.jpg[/img]
@singlebanana: Rarity is one component, but demand is the other. The box for Sqoon has the same rarity as the box for Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak, but the values are wildly different.
Good post! Makes me want to try and find this game.
I'm glad people are enjoying the review. It's been a while since I last did one. I may branch out a little and do some reviews of Colecovision titles as well if there is interest. We will see.
that looks really addicting, makes me want to get a 2600
Hi I have a little Facebook fan page for my favorite Atari 2600 game hope there are a few fans of this game Smiley

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