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Tunnel Runner Review

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Developer: CBS Electronics Publisher: CBS Electronics
Release Date: 1983 Available On: Atari 2600

Here is a quick question for you. What was the first game to employ 3D graphics? Was it Doom for the PC? No. Maybe it was Phantasy Star for the Master System? No. Actually, I will confess I have no clue as to the answer to this question, but I do know one thing: 3D graphics were around by 1983, when CBS Electronics used their special Ram Plus technology on the Atari 2600 to make Tunnel Runner, a first-person game in 3D. Is the game any good? Read on to find out.

So what exactly is Tunnel Runner? Picture a maze in the same style as those used for the dungeons in Phantasy Star. In this maze are creatures called zots as well as your character, the tunnel runner. Your objective as the tunnel runner is to progress through each maze, which the game refers to as a run, without getting caught by the zots, find a key to escape the run, and then find an escape door to escape through, all within a time limit. To help you along, you have a map that can be brought up by pushing the button, but you are not allowed to move while the map is up. Essentially, it is Pac-man in 3D without having to eat all the pellets.

The graphics in this game are not that bad for an Atari 2600 game. Not only does it scroll, but it scrolls in 3D, which is something not seen in very many games at all for the Atari 2600. The sound effects are fairly average as well, but they are nothing bad and they do not detract from the game at all. The aesthetics may not be the best in terms of sound effects or pixel size, but this would be a good game to use to show anybody who thinks it impossible that the Atari 2600 can handle 3D.

In the first game mode, there are quite a number of preset mazes that never change for those people who want a lesser challenge. For those people who want a greater challenge, there is the second game mode in which the mazes are always randomized. Those of you who enjoy mazes will think this game is a dream come true, but if you have trouble reading maps or you get lost easily, this game can easily become frustrating as well.

The game boasts no multiplayer option, although that is a minor gripe. This game does not have the lasting appeal of many other Atari 2600 games either. It is a decent game in its own right, but it is also one that is not particularly easy to find, so you will have to decide for yourself whether or not it is a game worth looking for and paying for or whether it is not worth the trouble to do so. At the very least, CBS Electronics put another notch into the beginning of the 3D age.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 5.5
Final: 6.9
Written by Martin Henely Write a User Review