The problem with Toadrunner is that it isn't a budget game. It has all the makings of an absolutely classic budget offering but Ariolasoft are trying to get top wack for it.
For £8.95 you get a program which is colourful, smoothly animated, moderately well designed and quite enjoyable. It is also exactly the sort of thing that Mastertronic are putting out for £1.99 or £2.99.
The original for Toadrunner was probably Atic Atac (that was in the days when Ultimate made influential programs). Similar screen layout, same sort of mixed bag of large but immobile or small but bouncy sprites, same assortment of curious objects to collect and use.
My feeling for the game rarely developed beyond the wildly indifferent but credit where it is due: there are a few moderately original touches - various points where you must choose between three routes, two of which mean instantly frazzled frog, and the right exit is found by reading the clues in the arrangements of rocks and boulders which surround the gateways.
Playing the game is your standard, wander-around-collect-objects figure-out-what-objects-solve-what-problem (kill what nasty, mostly) and avoid losing energy. The quest is for a Princess, having first disposed of the head baddie.
Presumably the big finish involves the Princess kissing you.
In a couple of hours I had solved some of the problems in the game, working out many of the boulder clues and swiping at some objects with the axe, so I think that the whole game is probably only moderately difficult. Some of the sprites are very nicely designed and animated, a sleeping Dragon in particular caught my attention and at the same time burnt me to cinders.
The problem with it - and a good many other games beside - is that Mastertronic and Firebird have upped the stakes. What would have been highly rated a year or so ago is a budget game now.
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
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