Lose control of yourself

Run the Gauntlet logo

RUN the Gauntlet is a game played on an international scale with four teams from Britain, Holland, Australasia and the USA, all racing against one another in every type of mortised vehicle known to mankind. The action starts by allowing you and a friend to choose one of the four countries to represent. The game will then select, apparently at random, a set of three special events for you to compete in. These are mostly three-lap races around a four-way scrolling landscape.

In the corner of the screen a small map is supplied to confuse and annoy you - it rather cunningly bears little or no resemblance to the actual playing area. The computer controls the two other competitors in the race. You cannot play directly against your friend, and all events are scored by the time you took to finish. During the race the other computer players, whether boats, hovercrafts or cars, simply refuse to let you pass. If you should bump into them, you will automatically go into a time-wasting spin. The computer-controlled boat will carry on as if nothing has happened. Exactly the same thing occurs if they crash into you, which is not what you would really go so far as to call fair. To make things even worse, some psycho is shooting at you.

Trying to steer your player around the screen is so difficult as to make play impossible. Just when you think you have got the hang of it, some prat will shoot you and stop you taking first place. Why? I don't know. I am sure I would have remembered it if it had been in the TV show. If you win, or least not come last, you will take part in the next event. If you are really unlucky you will win all three and take part in another series.

Graphically Run the Gauntlet is quite good. With digitised static displays plus passable landscapes and sprites, good use has been made of the Amiga hardware. Your little boat will even leave a shimmering wake as it vainly attempts to take part in the race.

However, the music must be the worst I have heard. A tedious little sampled ditty plays over and over and over again. Even the point when the tune starts and stops has not been blended together, so it sounds exactly like a record playing with a stuck stylus.

The only saving grace is 10 seconds of Martin Shaw sampled from the TV saying what a fun time you are going to have. Martin Shaw, if you remember, was the one with the curly hair from The Professionals, a TV series banned because of excessive violence. His idea of fun is, therefore, to be treated with suspicion.

Run the Gauntlet must rate as the least enjoyable game I have ever had the misfortune to play. How Ocean managed to fill not one, but two discs with such tedium is a miracle of modern 16 bit technology.

Run the Gauntlet logo


This is another TV tie in, featuring boats, buggies, and assault courses (not to mention plenty of explosions). If you have not seen it, it is a game show, which features suicidal adventurers from all over the world, charging round tracks being blown up left, right and centre. It is nearly as bad as a Japanese game show (well not quite).

I was nearly put off by the appallingly bad pic of Martin 'Grey Sidies' Shaw (the programme's presenter). But nonetheless I hit the space, successfully managed to negotiate the multi-player selection screen and wound up representing Australasia.

The game is separated into three stages, each containing three events which are randomly selected to make sure the game is different every time you play it. Ending up in the ultimate test, the Castle siege, a mixture of the land, water and assault course events (with still more explosions).

The road events feature Spacecats (slow six-wheeled vehicles), jeeps and quads (four-wheeled bikes). Set over dirt tracks, hills and jumps feature prominently as the major hazards, though the opponent's vehicles do not help if you get too close.

In the water, you are among jet bikes and easily controlled speedboats - very fast and difficult to handle, and hovercraft slow and unmanoeuvrable bricks. The only real problem with the water event is the lack of a proper map - in the ensuing confusion, you tend to wrap the vehicle you are in around an island of a buoy. Oh yeah, while all this is going there is still plenty of explosions erupting everywhere.

On the assault course there is no protection, you are on your own with only the ubiquitous explosions to keep you company. Left/right movements enable your man to run forward and a jab forward makes you jump. Hurdle with the logs or you will end up with mud on your face, and use a rotary joystick action to clear the scramble nets.

Run The Gauntlet was one of those conversions I had expected to fail completely, but I was wrong, it is a very well programmed piece of software. The graphics are clear and precise all the way through and almost totally glitch free. More importantly the computer controlled vehicles are quite intelligent (as well as being immune to the explosions), making the game challenging in the right way.

The sound is not quite up to scratch, a funkier action tune could have been used, but the sound effects are adequate enough.

This is a solid game which can only be gently praised, though I must warn tape owners that I reviewed the disk version and it did have a multiload which was spread over both sides. But if you feel you can put up with another multiload you could do a lot worse than look here. After all it is a lot safer than being blown up doing the real thing.