Design Design are a quiet, well mannered, unassuming bunch of hooligans who come round to the Newsfield Towers and pinch our sweatshirts. In the past they have gained quite a reputation as games producers with titles like Dark Star and Tank Busters. On the Run was conceived in a public house and written in some dark and sleazy backroom in Manchester.
The game follows a short, but heroic period, in the life of one Rick Swift. Rick has volunteered to get the defence deépartment out of a rather awkward situation. It seems that the ministry men have been using a little corner of the world to conduct chemical experiments This corner — a huge maze in fact — has over the years become contaminated; the flora and fauna within it have mutated into grotesque and dangerous beings. To make matters worse the scientists have been a little careless by leaving six flasks of their most dangerous material in the maze In one hour the flasks will degrade so allowing their lethal contents to do unbelievable damage. Rick must explore the maze and recover all six flasks in the 60 minutes available.
The ministry has equiped Rick with a special suit to protect him against the chemicals and the mutants. However, the suit only affords limited protection because the mutants damage it. with each mutant contact the energy bar at the top of the screen diminishes; eventually to the point where the suit is rendered useless and poor old Rick passes on. If Rick is careful he can keep his suit in good nick by finding magic mushrooms which have the effect of restoring the suit's energy level. The mutants come in all shapes and sizes, some move slowly and almost ignore you, others appear to a have a severe grudge against humans in general and Hick in particular. They home in on their target at great speed - bent on killing some thing. Rick's ministry jet pack is just the tool for such awkward moments. It allows him to take to the air and make a rapid escape, or to take on his attackers and blast them to pieces with his ministry splurge gun. If Rick gets lucky he may chance uoon a few smart bombs within the maze, these can be picked up and kept for those occasions when he stumbles into an area full of baddies.
Collecting the flasks is almost sure to require that Rick explores the entire maze but he can only get into some areas of the maze if he has collected an object from another section. The frogs that guard the entrance to each section decide if he has the correct object or not. You see there are a very large number of collectable objects just waiting to be picked up, the problem is that Rick has to learn the hard way which he should touch and which he should leave alone.
Apart from the energy bar there are six empty flask slots sitting at the top of the screen, as Rick recovers each flask it is inserted into one of the slots.
Should Rick become the proud owner of any smart bombs then they will also be stored up there waiting to be used. The one thing that Rick must not forget to keep an eye on is the time, the clock at the top of the screen shows the seconds ticking past. Remember he has only got 60 minutes to find those flasks so don't let him dawdle or he will be dealing with a lot more than a bunch of mutated mushrooms. One last point, even though this game lacks the infamous Design Design high score table you still score points, depending on the number of baddies you have killed and the number of flasks that you have managed to recover.
Control keys: all keys are definable.
1. I know the graphics are mode 0 but they are really very colourful and nicely detailed. They do have that sort of stretched appearance but one soon adjusts to the effect. The movement and scrolling are very smooth which is just as well because this game can turn into a fast action shoot em up when you least expect it. I hesitate to class it as any sort of arcade adventure even though you are expected to collect objects. I defy anyone to show me the logic involved selecting the objects that are needed to get from one section to another. A very straight forward and attractive game.
2. I saw this game a couple of months ago on the Spectrum and I was very impressed with it then. Now, having seen the far superior version on the Amstrad. I am amazed with its graphics and sound; I could sit and play it for hours just to see all the different characters and foliage. Controlling your bloke is fairly easy until you get into close combat with the larger nasties, then you find out that fine movement is impossible so your energy is drained very quickly. Finding the objects to get past the frogs is a waste of time as picking up any objects in the search for flasks is sufficient.
3. I can't help feeling that there could have been a little more to the game-play. As shoot em ups go it's very good but not quite as demanding as some. I admit that the huge variety of different monsters makes the game very playable simply because you want to see them all. / played it because I was sure that sooner or later I was going to be in for a very big surprise when some thing really dramatic happened; / was surprised but only because no major events befell me. Perhaps I am demanding too much from a game that is very attractive, well designed and very challenging Oh yes, what happened to the high score table chaps?
Presentation 86% : Attractive front end with some of the Design Design wit and plenty of options.
Graphics 92%: Clever use of colour to give the graphics boldness and some very original sprites to boot
Sound 72% : Effective spot effects, would have been nice set to music.
Payability 91% : Easy to get into, great fun to play and really very hard to beat, bad luck Rick.
Addictive qualities 87% : Difficult, compelling and fantastic characters, plus Toads of screens to keep you at it.
Value For Money 88% : A lot of action and visual interest for a reasonable price.
Overall 89% : A very different game from Des Des, worth adding to your collection.