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Code Masters Ltd
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

Here's one from the cheap and cheerful department, a brisk little number from Code Masters. Written by Christian Urquhart, co-programmer of Daley Thompson's Decathlon. Star Runner also has an athletic theme, but there ain't no joystick juggling to run screaming from here, thank de Lawd! It's 2087, as you might imagine, and you're running for your planet in the interstellar Olympics (strordinary!) But they've junked the dear old Marathon (a fistful of peanuts in every bite) and instead you have to enter the fiendish Star Running event. What it all amounts to is a sort of cross between Shockway Rider and Zaxxon, a race against the clock through twelve levels of a viciously hard obstacle-strewn course.

Your runner, a curious little chap in a cloth cap, beetles along at a rare old pace, and the skill lies in dodging the hazards and getting through each level with time to spare. There's certainly room to manoeuvre, with five lanes to weave in and out of throughout the course. Hazards include fire pits, which turn on and off and when active can send you back to the start of that screen, high resistance surfaces which slow you down, numerous aliens fizzing around banging into you and all sorts of other things to trip over. Worst of all, though, are the teleport pads which bung you back two or three screens and almost certainly doom you to failure.

It's all clever, simple and well executed and I'm a fan! You'll need a good memory - too many of the hazards are unavoidable unless you've remembered they're coming up and nipped into another lane accordingly. But that's the learning curve, innit? If you like Shockway Rider, it's my guess you'll go for Star Runner as well. And what more can you say about a game that'll set you back only £1.99?