|Dick Balaska &
|A RAM Plus
Tunnel Runner is one of the few overly ambitious Atari 2600
games that manages to actually pull everything off.
Graphically Tunnel Runner is impressive with 3-D corridors that
fill the screen and smoothly scroll as the player attempts to
navigate the maze. The gameplay, while seeming simple at
first, actually requires careful strategy and planning to play
to the higher levels. The sound and music, while simple,
give the game a haunting and creepy vibe. Tunnel Runner is
with out a doubt one of those games that pushed the 2600 to its
limits and succeeded.
The goal of Tunnel Runner is simple, make your way through the
maze and find the key. Once youíve found the key you must
then find the exit door and escape from the maze before time
(indicated by the bar at the bottom of the screen) runs out or you
will be forced to replay the level. As youíre normally
facing down the corridor, doors arenít immediately visible until
you turn to face the wall theyíre on. To help clue you in on
where a door might be, the floor will begin to flash when one is
near. Once you see this flashing floor, quickly search the
walls and see what kind of door it is and make your choice on if
you want to take it or not. There are four kinds of doors:
|This door (indicated by the up arrow) will take
you to the next level. You will need the key to
enter this door.
|Double Up Door
|This door (indicated by two up arrows) will take
you up TWO levels. To use a Double Up door you must
not only have the key, but must also have found the
regular Up Door while in possession of the key. No
|This door (indicated by
two arrows pointing sideways) will transport you to a
random location in the maze. Teleport Doors make a
great emergency escape when surrounded by Zots, and you
donít need a key to enter one.
|This door (indicated by two arrows pointing down)
is also known as the door of last resort. While you
can enter this door to escape from an approaching Zot it
will take you back to the previous level. Make sure
you really want to do this before entering. You
donít need a key to enter a Down Door, which is nice.
Of course, this wonít be a simple stroll in the park (errÖ
maze). Oh no, that would be too easy. Making things
more complicated are the presence of four orb like monsters called
Zots who are out for your blood. Each Zot has
its own unique personality and can be identified by its color and
|Slow, dumb and easy to outrun.
|Faster and smarter than the Grey Zot, he likes to
follow you around but can still be outrun fairly easily.
|Extremely fast, but also
incredibly dumb. You canít outrun him, but you can
lose him easily enough.
|The head Zot. The Red Zot is incredibly
smart and fairly fast. Once he gets on your tail,
heís hard to lose.
During the course of running for your life around a giant maze,
youíre bound to get lost quickly. Thankfully Tunnel Runner
includes a handy map which is called by hitting the fire
button. The map shows the entire maze youíre in, your
position, the location of the Zots, and the location of the key
(up to maze 16). You will need to constantly refer to this
map in order to keep your bearings. Unfortunately, the map
does not show the location of the doors so youíll still need to
hunt those down on your own. You can also see what direction
youíre moving by looking at the compass arrow at the bottom of the
screen. Keep in mind though that while youíre looking at the
map, the Zots are constantly on the move. If you take too
long, they may sneak up behind you and end your run!
Speaking of running, Tunnel Runner has an interesting movement
mechanic. The longer you push forward in a direction the
faster you will run. Thereís a catch however, the faster
youíre running the harder it is to stop and turn around. To
change directions you must pull back on the stick to stop and only
then can you turn left or right. You can also back up while
still facing forward if you keep pulling back on the stick.
Thankfully you will automatically stop running when you go past a
door, which makes a handy way to find them quickly. Learning
how to run is an important part of Tunnel Runner so make sure you
practice on the lower levels or youíll find yourself running
straight into the mouth of a waiting Zot.
Tunnel Runner features two different game variations. In
Game 1 the mazes are always the same so the player can memorize
each level. As the locations of the key and escape doors are
also always the same, this variation is recommended for
beginners. Game 2 features randomly generated mazes which
add an extra challenge to the game. This variation is
recommended for players looking for a challenge or for those who
have memorized the beginning levels. Tunnel Runner also
features an undocumented escape move. If you find yourself
trapped without any chance of escape, you can activate the
emergency teleport by holding down the button and rotating the
joystick in a circle. This will teleport you to a random
location in the maze, much like a Teleport Door. This move
may only be done once per level, so hold onto it until you need
it. Itís unknown why this isnít mentioned in the manual.
to 2600 Software