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Mastertronic Plus
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

No. this isn't a game about chasing after men wearing red yellow and green bobble-hats, so you can get that idea right out of your mind, it's even more surprising than that; a version of a real oldie, the ancient Gridrunner theme; pilot your light bike around a grid, laying down a plasma trail, trying to manoeuvre your human or computerised computer into a tragic accident. The justification for digging up this digital dinosaur is a 23rd century deathsport featuring performers like Gazza P and Flathead Andy (surely familiar names in the computer industry?). You have ten lives, shown by a large digital counter in the status area, and you get 1 point for each second you survive, and a 1000 point bonus for winning a round. The rider with the highest score at the end of the rounds gets the title of Supreme Champion, hurrah!

A central radar screen gives a top-down view of the entire raster field, while the two players are shown in individual screens on the left and right. There's one twist which makes Raster Runner superior to earlier incarnations; in each round you get three energy shields. Prod the fire button, and for a few seconds you can bash into or cross over a plasma barrier without damage. But for each unused shield at the end of a round you get 100 bonus points, so you don't want to use them unnecessarily.

The great thing about the game is that because there's so little moving on the screen - just the background grid and the angle of the bikes - the action is blisteringly fast and the animation very smooth. The computerised opponent operates on three skill levels, the most advanced of which is very fast and clever - so much so that he sometimes manages to move diagonally! You have to be really good to outsmart him, considering that even when you box him in, he can escape three times using a shield.

Nothing in the way of originality here then, but with good sound FX and music and exceptionally fast gameplay, Raster Runner is going to keep you on the trot for a months.

Label: Mastertronic
Price: £2.99
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Fast-moving version of a classic game with exciting twists.