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 highspeed 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 highspeed 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.
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 off 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 on the first 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.
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