Millions of years ago. when earth was just a cooling blob of molten custard (or was it Angel Delight? Science was never my strong point) the people of the planet Zero had a spot of local difficulty.
Living below their planet surface (it was a bit nippy upstairs - ice age and all that) they were prone to attack by the less than chummy Destrovians, who wished to blag their plutonium. Teams of saboteurs would disrupt the outer networks of tubes and piping (which carried the plutonium to the heating plants) and the Zeronians faced a chilly future.
Heroes had tried in the past, of course, to rid the pipeworks of their alien invaders - what else are heroes for? - but they hadn't lasted long. The Zero High Council was desperate. So desperate, in fact, that they chose you to have a go. You made your will, kissed your wife and 43 small children goodbye. and off you went, facing almost certain doom...
But what a doom! Ten scrolling networks of pipes, tubes and hi-tech knick-knacks! Lethal formations of flying aliens stinging you in the heretofores and wherewithals! Yup, we're in Shoot 'Em Up Land, that curious country where bullets never run out, bombs can be dodged and the aliens' idea of strategy is flying at you in a straight line. Gun Runner is a fine example of the species, combining elements of Cobra and Uridium to excellent effect.
The course runs from left to right, although the Destrovians come in both directions. Your target on each level is a tower to the far right - if you regain control of that the level is yours. On the way you can pick up several pieces of equipment. The Multifire gun blasts faster and in three directions, while Poison is Gun Runner's smart bomb equivalent. A Jet Pack lets you fly around the screen for a brief period, and a Shield protects you from everything for an even shorter time. If you're not shielded, you'll lose any equipment you've picked up if you hit a Destrovian - if you have no equipment, of course, you're deaded.
The Destrovians themselves attack usually in fours (if you knock some off, the usrviviors have another go) and in any of several formations. Some are slow enough to be picked off almost at your leisure, but others, randomly it would seem, are viciously fast, and if you're facing the wrong way you have no chance. Certainly it's these megaswift attacks that always cause my downfall.
Other bits and bobs for you to blast are the Destrovians' scanning orbs, which are otherwise harmless, and domes which contain the aliens' supplies. Be careful what you do with these 'cos they're often booby-trapped. Watch out also for bombs, which just have to be dodged, and bits of broken pipework.
It's all been neatly put together by Christian Urquhart and Mike Smith. In these post-Uridium days Gun Runner is scarcely original, but it's a fast, efficient and by no means easy shooter which Cobra fans particularly should take a look at. And at least there aren't any hamburgers!