Based on the 1985 Atari arcade game of the same name, Road Runner (no relation to the 5200 game) is a side scrolling action game in which you must help guide the road runner down a dark desert highway (no Hotel California jokes please!) in an attempt to eat as much bird seed as possible while avoiding your arch nemesis Wile E. Coyote. Thankfully unlike many video games based off of popular cartoon licenses, Road Runner is actually just much fun as the cartoon.
You know the plot; Wile E. Coyote has scattered bird seed across the desert in an attempt to lure our poor unsuspecting hero into his dastardly trap. And while Wile may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, he certainly is persistent. Wile will chase the road runner across eight different levels full of deadly traps, falling rocks, and highway traffic. Of course it wouldn't be a road runner cartoon without the help Acme and their wide assortment of deadly inventions...
Wile may start out chasing you on foot, but he's not going to stay that way for long. Wile has numerous Acme products he's just dying to try out. Starting on stage three, if Wile gets too far behind you he'll switch to his rocket skates which allow him to move faster than you for a time. You can get around the rocket skates by luring him into a land mine or oncoming truck, and if you're feeling really adventurous you can run circles around him until the skates run out of energy. This strategy can be used on most of Wile's inventions.
Every few stages you'll run into a series of chasms that you must carefully just over. Unfortunately Wile doesn't seem to have a problem running over the chasms so he have a big speed advantage over you on these boards. Your only hope is to lure Wile into land mines which are strategically placed around the board while avoiding them yourself. Be particularly careful of Wile's Rocket (hehe...) which he likes to ride on these stages, it acts like the rocket skates but is much faster. Thankfully these levels are few and far between.
Another one of Wile's deadly inventions is steel shot. Steel shot looks just like bird seed (except its a little wider), and you'll even get points for eating it. However once you've eaten the steel shot Wile will attempt slow you down using a huge magnet (steel = magnetic). Thankfully this effect only last a short time, but its still best to avoid steel shot when possible. On later levels you'll begin to encounter deadly roadside cannons and rock slides, these hazards are deadly but can also be used to stop Wile for a short time.
Road Runner is a fun and addicting game which really shows off what the 2600 was capable of when pushed to its limits. However if there's one flaw with Road Runner it's that the game is very VERY hard. Although there are eight levels, most people will be lucky if they see four. The steep difficulty may turn off casual gamers, but hard core gamers will find the challenge a welcome change. Road Runner is one of the shining gems of the 2600 library.