I grew up on Looney Tunes, Bug Bunny, Daffy Duck et al, and as such it brings a smile to my face when starting up the Road Runner cartridge to see that gorgeous WB style laid out in front of me, bringing back all the memories of What’s up Doc* and Saturday morning cartoons.
*What’s up Doc was a Saturday morning Magazine show themed around the looney tunes on CITV during the early 90’s, and featured some rather ‘creative’** but no way associated with the looney tunes characters… after all take a look at the Wikipedia Entry
**The series also included a variety of characters including Simon Perry, Colin, Wooly, Billy Box, Baljit, Pasty the Worm, Mister Spanky, Naughty Torty, Gaston, Sam Sam, and Bro and Bro the Wolves
Oh and Frank Sidebottom!
Now Road Runner game on the Super Nintendo does what it needs to do. It doesn’t look exactly like the cartoon, but it fills the gap. It’s box also does the same job, looking close enough that kids (and parents) were probably fooled in the store and thinking that it could feel the same.
And there lies the issue, you see part of the joy of the Road Runner / Wile E Coyote format is the humour, and to be fair the game does a reasonable job there, starting up each level in a similar format to the cartoon, with the cheeky subtitling above our main characters (and latin) before the fun begins. Each new stage bring abound a new plan formed by Wile E. Coyote to catch Road Runner, each as silly as the cartoon. With the payoff at the end of every level allowing the player watch as Road Runner outsmarts him and turns the traps against the coyote. It’s great how the game follows the structure of the cartoon and adapts it quite well for a game.
Given this came out in 1992 it’s clear to see that it took inspiration from that years leading game ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’. Running fast is generally encouraged, and sometimes you’ll need to build up momentum to climb walls while Wile E.’s contraptions are easy to dodge when on the move. But sadly much like later Sonic games, there’s too much precise platforming to break up to fun fast parts. Secret flagpoles and point bonuses are scattered in out-of-the-way places in the levels to encourage exploration, and at this point it’s where the game struggles to find it’s identity.. trying to be two different kinds of platformers at once and it’s annoying and never clicks the way it wants.
Overall Road Runner is a good game that is let down by poor level design. Nailing the Looney Tunes feel is a amazing achievement even if this could have been more interesting to perhaps base the game more towards Wile E. rather than the bird..
Slightly missed opportunity but still worth a look and play through on a rainy day.