Skulduggery! Skulduggery and blackmail! These two things alone have forced international super spies and assassins to come together in a battle to the death just so each spy’s awful personal secret remains hidden. Blimey, what did they do, secretly audition to be contestants on Blind Date or something?
The inspiration behind Trap Runner is its distant descendant, Spy Vs Spy, the classic C64 game of outwitting your opponent before they have chance to outwit you. Plonked slap bang in the middle of 36 deadly arenas with a backpack of high explosives you must then plant them in strategic positions in the hope that your heavily armoured enemy unwittingly steps on one and blows their legs off. Nice.
At least, it could have been nice if it didn’t run at a pace which is nothing short of the annual paraplegic, asthmatic tortoise marathon. The spies drag themselves about, aiming willy-nilly with their guns and when called to action, lethargically plod around until you lay some explosives. Luckily, once you master your trap planting technique, the action hots up. A bit. But not enough to convince you of imminent joy…
Traps can be planted in combos to great effect and the more advanced player you become, the more rewarding skills you’ll learn. As you become proficient in combining varying types of pitfall, your rivals learn how to disarm your bombs and also learn from experience where you are most likely to try and ensnare them. You, in turn, learn that different enemies have different intelligence and attack patterns. Some will go for a full frontal, others will slyly watch in order to suss out your strategy. It really is a world of cunning trickery. A real dose of arse that could have been avoided is the minuscule screen size that hampers so much of the enjoyment. The menu bar that stretches across the top of the screen is absurd, often blocking out good chunks of the action. It’s even worse in split screen mode where you are confined to a playing area no bigger than the average letterbox. The players are also too tiny to appreciate and although the game’s emphasis is firmly on utilising the arena more than the individual fighter, a little more attention to detail wouldn’t have gone a miss, especially when the arenas are often very similar to one another. A greater variety in trap would have helped enormously and as it is the six traps at your disposal soon become jaded in their enjoyment too.
MAN TRAP MADNESS!
If only Trap Runner exploded onto the screen in an orgy of fire and gunpowder rather than whimpering on like a soggy Roman Candle. If only the traps arrived in a torrent of sickening bone-crunching choice rather than resembling a joke mousetrap. If only the action whipped along rather than stumbling along at crawling speed through treacle. If only Trap Runner was more fun. As it is though, this is just one more game that fails to live up to the original’s appeal and gameplay.
For die-hard fans of this genre all is not lost yet, because if Trap Runner is anything like Spy Vs Spy then we can all look forward to at least another five sequels. Can’t wait.