Toadrunner (Ariolasoft) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action


Toadrunner
By Ariolasoft
Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #10

Toadrunner

It's hard to believe it from the title but this is an arcade adventure and not a version of Frogger. It may seem odd that the main character, played by you is a toad, but then it seems only natural when you're trying to rescue a princess. Perhaps he'll turn into a prince at the end - don't you just love a happy ending?

The game is set in a funny sort of landscape filled with odd looking plants, weird monsters and strange building structures. The toad has to 'slime' (a horrible sound effect) his way around the screen, with his bulbous belly bouncing up and down. To start with the game area is quite limited - to escape into a wider arena you've got to crack some very tough problems.

Toad has four pockets (odd things for an amphibian to have) in which he can carry the many objects found in the game. An object in the fourth pocket can be used under the right circumstances - for instance an axe can be waved around to try to hit something.

On each screen, a bug appears which drains old toady's energy when it touches him. Other screens have larger monsters which may also drain his energy but are more likely to kill him outright if they run into him while following a movement pat-tern. These patterns usually guard a screen exit, so the monster has to be removed before you can get through.

Getting rid of monsters is a major part of the game and to do it you need to have the right object. An axe obviously comes in handy - your only problem is finding out which monsters to use it on. Trial and error is what's needed most of the time and this will cost you an awful lot of lives and games early on.

Another source of death and frustration at the start are the 'triple exits'. This is where there are three parallel exits from a screen but two result in the end of the game. A scenery feature indicates which is the safe route, but this has to be learnt by trial and error, isn't standard for different screens and will drive you up the wall until you've worked it out.

A later frustration is a thief who ap-pears on screen after a while and maliciously swaps objects around from locations you have visited. Once you've worked out his behaviour he shouldn't be too tough to cope with though.

The game's main problem is that to start with there are too many difficult problems. There are the triple exits, many deaths and restarted games through trial and error, and some obscure puzzles that need many frustrating games to crack. A much more friendly opening would have been appreciated because there's quite a good game size and many things to do.

The game also suffers from annoying practical problems in picking up objects, using them, and in movement, which further damage first impressions. The graphics are quite pleasant, featuring some nicely drawn monsters, although many locations look quite bare. The sound is disappointing with the incessant squelching noise of the toad guaranteed to get on your nerves. A game that has quite a few tough problems and plenty to keep you going, but that will probably have lost its audience long before they get to most of them.

Second Opinion

Revolting graphics and wretched sound ought to be enough for any game, but the gameplay beats them both. The use of objects is largely irrational, and those triple exits are criminally stupid. If you really work at it, there is more to this game than meets the eye - but nowhere near enough to be worth the effort.

Green Screen View

I thought this might look okay in green, but I was wrong. It's horrid, and some features are quite difficult to see.

Good News

P. Many locations and objects to find.
P. Some tough problems to work out.

Bad News

N. Triple exits are infuriating at first and take some while to work out.
N. Picking up objects can be difficult.
N. One mistake can end a game - very annoying.
N. Relies mostly on trial and error at first, giving a bad first impression.

Bob Wade