(I hate 3D, so god knows how I'm going to feel about this...)
Title : 3-D WorldRunner
Release Date : September, 1987
Publisher : Acclaim (distb. by SQUARE)
I really didn't know what to expect with 3-D WorldRunner. When it comes to 3D, I tend to develop migraines. Part of me wanted to avoid whatever I was going to get into, and toss this cartridge out the window. You can probably guess before we even step into this review, I am highly anti-3D. Some of you may think I'm out of my mind, but to me, the 3D era ended back in the 80s (just like when this game came out).
I still don't understand how 3D is making a comeback. Sure the technology has vastly improved, and the 3D effects are pretty impressive, but I still don't get it. To me its a gimmick, and I dislike gimmicks. 3D is just a band-aid on something you're hiding with your film / video game / etc. Distract the viewer with some 3D images and they'll ignore some of the problems. Not to mention, 3D visuals has the tendency to give me a splitting headache. Luckily, I didn't have to play through this game with the 3D feature on, but I did give it a shot. Anyway, on to the review.
(seems pretty epic, don't you think?)
First things first. I am going to get the entire 3D bit of this game out of the way. Especially after my opening rant, I don't think you want to hear me complain about it anymore. During your play through, you have the option of hitting the select button at any point which turns on the game's 3D mode. The screen changes color (giving you those classic red and blue 3D colors applied across the screen), and you're free to put on your 3D glasses for the full effect. Now, I didn't have the original pair of 3D glasses for the game, and I don't even know anyone that still does. They were probably all trashed long ago, but I did have a set lying around. I used those, and I have to say, while the 3D wasn't that great, it was still effective. But like I said earlier, it still felt like a gimmick. The game itself is already set in a "mock" 3D vertical side scrolling environment, so it's not much different.
(If I wanted 3D I would go see Pacific Rim again, but even that gave me a headache)
Enough about the 3D complaints, let's talk about the game itself. Your goal as the WorldRunner is to travel through each section of the eight worlds you encounter and defeat the serpent-like beast at the end. The game play involves you dodging obstacles which include a variety of monsters that either impede your progress or try to kill you, pillars of fire, or giant pits that you need to jump over. In the basic sections of each world, you aren't fighting anything. You are literally just running through the scrolling world until you reach the next section. Hit something, and you lose precious time (or occasionally die). Fall in a bottomless hole? Well, you're dead.
(Is that, Kirby!?)
Now, most of this game is just about building up a high score while beating out the clock of each level. (The clock being represented by the bar above the WORLD NUMBER). As you're moving, you can't really slow yourself down, but you can move left or right. Each level is really only varied by the path you take. You are basically encountering the same things over and over again each level, just in greater frequency. In a way, it's a lot like the vertical shooters I just played in 1942 and 1943, just in a different perspective.
(run, damn you! RUN!)
To help you along the way are certain power ups and "stars" that increase your score. Stars, which can be obtained throughout the level, or certain bonus stages that can be accessed, basically act as score multipliers. Other power ups can be found by slamming into the pillars you see above. The pillars will drop an item that you can pick up that either increase your time, grant you invincibility, or give you an extra life. However, there is one item that you WOULD THINK helps you, but actually kills you. A poison mushroom. I don't know about you, but I'm used to Super Mario Bros and mushrooms = helpful. Unless we're talking about Mario Lost Levels with those purple mushrooms.
(that boss looks familiar. Anyone?)
There are a total of 8 worlds that you need to run through, but before you can move on to the next level, you have to defeat a world boss. All of them are basically serpent-like creatures that just move forward and backward on the screen, occasionally shooting things at you or having other monsters spawn near you to try and hinder you. Now, this is also the only point in the game where you can actually fire a weapon (to my knowledge? Unless I played through the entire game without realizing you can shoot.) Fire enough shots, and the beast is dead. On to the next level. Simple enough, right? Rinse and repeat 8 more times.
(it's just a giant chessboard in space, really)
One thing that I really enjoyed about this game was the sound. As frustrating as the game was at some points, the music was just so pleasing that I couldn't help but grin like an idiot as I played. I admit, my head was bobbing along to the rhythm while I sped through each level. Tack that on with the visuals, and this game reminded me a lot of the "family" games Nintendo releases with their Wii and Wii U.
It took me approximately an hour, to an hour and a half to get through the entire game. I don't even know how I managed to do it. Die enough times, and there are no continues. You have to start COMPLETELY OVER. The real trick of the game is to keep moving in diagonally. For some reason, I noticed that by moving diagonally across the screen, you tend to evade most monster movements, and I for one had an easier time making the jumps that way. One more piece of advice - make it a goal to slam into every pillar you can, but just avoid those mushrooms. The power ups are more helpful than you think.
So yes, the game was a heck of a lot of fun, despite the fact that it had 3D in the title. Luckily, I didn't even have to use the 3D feature to enjoy the game. But seriously, what was up with the ending? Random text quips from your main character talking to the monsters. Makes no sense. But then again, what ending did back then? Other than that, a winner with some real challenge in my book.
(Seriously, that's the ending....you and the monsters just hanging out on a black screen. Good times.)
Until next time. Keep on gaming.