A Grown Man Attempts To Review NES Games, Part 2

The Battle to Understand The 3-D Battles of World Runner

I know none of you out there want to read what we think about baseball, right? That's why I'm back with another reason to knock the NES off its pedestal. As per last time, I will be rating this game by a scale that only makes sense to me, Stephen Hawking, and the rest of the Secret Genius Cabal that runs what you have all been convinced is "The Earth." Again, I have done no research on this game, and had never heard of it before I started the emulator.

I'm already having second thoughts.

The game in question is The 3-D Battles of World Runner. It was made by the same people responsible for the popular Final Fantasy games, so it's probably pretty good. Oh, wait. It was made in 1987. And it's an arcade game. I think...

Oh hell.

This is going to be rough. I can feel it.

This is the single most exciting thing you will be doing in this game.

Graphics: Okay, who designed this "3-D" world? Jeff Spicoli? Just because it looks good on a pair of Vans is no reason to assume I want to frolic on a checkerboard pattern. Neither checkers nor chess are fun unless you are (a) running a general store in Appalachia (for the former) or (b) a completely batshit Antisemitic Jewish homeless wizard (the latter). I also feel as if the characters are poorly designed, and not fully taking advantage of the lush capabilities of 8-bit processing. Also, the near constant chasms in this game are just black rectangles. Meh. (2/5)

I bet you weren't even expecting to find a picture of Bobby Fischer today.

Sound: A hideous squalling noise (not unlike a snippet from Metal Machine Music) greeted me when I started the game. And it didn't get better from there. In fact, I almost got into a fight with my girlfriend because I told her I needed to hear at least 1-2 minutes of this "Midi Carnival In Hell" score. Feh. (1/5)

Gameplay: Okay, so the "Battles" in the title seems to be a misnomer, since the whole point of this game is to run forward, while sidestepping cutesy monsters and obstacles and leaping ridiculous distances over solid black rectangles. This game could have been played with an old 2600 joystick for all the complexity of controls. You have no weapons, shields, or useful power-ups - at least none that I could discover (there is at least on part where you can pick items up, but they seem to only give points). The jump function is the exact opposite of Castlevania's - it's video game physics to the Nth degree. The longer you hold the button, the longer you jump, and you can steer yourself in midair. However, it's very hard to judge depth and while in midair it feels like you're steering an '85 diesel Oldsmobile through Jell-o. Guh. (2/5)

Your guess is as good as mine.

Level of Adult Confusion: This game didn't mystify me like 8-Eyes did, as it's clearly a mindless arcade game whose main gimmick is the illusion of 3-D. However, I would love to know exactly what the hell is the point of running endlessly until you die. At least Asteroids and Centipede had some sort of backstory. As far as I can tell, you're just running as fast as you can on a giant chessboard until you either fall in a pit, ram into a pillar of fire, or lightly bump into a bouncing ball with eyes. Maybe that's some sort of metaphor for life, but it's pretty forced. Also, would it have hurt to go through this metaphorical "Game of Life" with some missiles or something?

This game also has some sort of health meter or something, but it's clearly decorative, as every time I ran into anything, I died. And when you die, the screen flashes black and red and a dragon left over from a Chinese New Year parade flounces about the screen like Rip Taylor on ecstasy. I think he's taunting you, but for all I know, he's mourning your passing.

Other "charming" (read: confusing and infuriating) touches: when you pause the game, World Runner (I assume that's his name, or at least his title according to the Peerage Registry) turns and faces you, sitting Indian-style. And naps. Lazy bastard. World Runner also flashes a damn peace sign from the bottom corner of the screen - at all times. Maybe if you were less of a damn hippie pacifist, you'd be able to defend yourself against a figgin' beach ball moving at 10mph. (3/5)

Ram it, Churchill.

Level of Childhood Rage If I Had Spent My Own Money On This: I'm guessing rather high. I mean, at least Spyhunter had the "Peter Gunn Theme" playing as you drove until your death, not an outtake from a Melt-Banana casio tribute band rehearsal playing as you ran until you fall into a black rectangle. The 3-D gimmick would have hooked me for a while, but honestly, even the old vector graphics Star Wars was more convincing. Being poor as a child, I would have probably gritted my teeth and gotten very good at this game, meanwhile hating every second as much as I hated my parents for not buying me a Mega Man game instead. Bleh. (4/5)

Time Spent Playing as an Adult Before Quitting In Annoyance: Wanting to give this monstrosity one more chance, I came back to this game two weeks after my first attempt. This means I have spent a total composite time of nearly 10 minutes of my only time on this "Earth" playing this game. I could have spent that time listening to 6 Ramones songs. I feel like a fool. Bah.

He's like a tiny, boring, confusing angel when he sleeps.

Composite Grade: D

You're better off just hitting pause and taking a nap with World Runner. Unless you have a fever above 103, your dreams will make more sense. And you'll have more fun.

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