• Graphics
  • Sound
  • Playability
  • Lastability
FormatCommodore 64
DeveloperAleksi Eeben
ReviewJason and Shaun B.

Main review

Redrunner is the sequel to Aleksi Eeben’s 2006 game Greenrunner and, like its sibling, this is an all-out hardcore blaster that takes its cues from several different genres of game and in particular from arena shooters like Robotron 2084, although at the same time it borrows from Centipede or more particularly Jeff Minter’s takes on that genre, the Gridrunner series. In fact it really shares a feel with a couple of Minter’s often-forgotten third instalment in the ‘Runner series Voidrunner, but combined with elements from another C16 classic, Spore from Mastertronic. The action itself is very simple, the player or players are given a ship each with four reasonable cannons mounted around the hull; holding the fire button down releases bullets in four directions simultaneously and if, knowing how much firepower the Cyanitizer `and Yellowizer (the two player ships) wield doesn’t give the game away, the objective is to go out there and convert anything that holds still long enough into their component atoms.

The game starts off at a rapid pace and accelerates from there, so it doesn’t take very long before words like “fast” or indeed most of the expletives you know simply won’t cover it any more, because if things moved any faster than Redrunner already does at full tilt, it’d become impossible to follow. But despite a truly mind-boggling turn of speed, somehow it remains playable because it’s just on that edge where repeatedly throwing the ship out of danger through some kind of primal survival instinct is still possible even if tactical playing or simply trying to think about what the hell you’re doing have long since given up the ghost; there’s no break between levels either, since each starts the moment the previous is completed with just a shower of explosions and a colour change to mark the transition. The speed also doesn’t make it impossible to grab the power-ups either, which either blow up everything currently on-screen, power up the already formidable cannons on the players’ ship or, in slightly surreal fashion, turn everything into mushrooms…!


On the graphics front this game is a bit of an improvement over the original Greenrunner, there’s more colour in general on the screen and, despite the change from high resolution to the chunkier multicolour graphics and how small everything is, it’s actually slightly easier to see what’s going on when things start to get truly busy. The audio front is also well-served, since it features a very solid soundtrack from C64 maestro Glenn Rune Gallefoss but, whilst the speech samples feature the voice of Antti Hukkannen (who is credited as, amongst other works, for the trailer for sci-fi parody “Star Wreck” where he provided the voiceover) the actual content of the speech has been pared down a little from Greenrunner, meaning that the new voice of the Redrunner has a little less to say for himself than his female counterpart.

Okay, so the long term playability for the average gamer has to be considered here but, whilst there’s no doubt that by level twenty this thing is seriously out to bury the player both figuratively and literally so that a more seasoned shoot ’em up player’s skills start to become a requirement to continue, it’s got enough variety in those earlier, slightly more sedate levels to keep those who don’t “zone out” and let their reactions take over in front of this kind of game busy. The two player mode shifts the odds just a little more in the favour of a couple of reasonable gamers working as a team and, if you are the sort of person who drifts into that slightly dazed, almost dreamlike state that has people worrying about you whilst playing Robotron, Geometry Wars or Jeff Minter’s single screen blasters, this is very much the sort of game you’ll find appealing. So find yourself a decent joystick, wedge your thumb down on the button and lose half an hour without realising it.

Second opinion

Commodore 64 fans might like to cast their minds back to the Game Over(View) Freestyle Jam 2007 which paid prize money to the best freeware games released on the 8-bit colossus. The winner of which was Greenrunner, a game by Aleksi Eeben, which was a psychedelic Jeff Minter-esque blasterama loosely based around the arcade game Centipede released in 1980. Redrunner, by no coincidence, is the sequel to this game, so what’s new then?

To be honest, Redrunner doesn’t add too much to an already classy piece of coding. Look past the fact that this game uses character blocks rather than hardware sprites, and you have a very good game indeed. Level after level of fast paced and nasty bugs await you on your quest to simply score as many points as possibly by obliterating them to nothingness – no other excuses given or needed.

Hinting at a main influence to this production is rather subtle – the fact that the beer gives you temporary immunity and super fire power, for instance, should give you some idea though. Fish bones act as a “kill-all”, where as apples will turn everything into Fungi and rocks will crush you. The manic visuals combined with the pumping and repetitive tones during play are strangely hypnotic. As with Greenrunner, there are some impressive and clear speech samples, which authoritatively declare “round complete”, “Redrunner”, “extra ship rewarded” and others.

Additionally, the musical score on the title screen is simply superb, making good use of the famed SID chip with analogue slides and solid baritone beats, melding together to produce something that fans of 8-bit music will certainly enjoy. This game can be played by one or two people simultaneously, and one may join in at any time during play simply by hitting the fire button on the free joystick. If you like simple blasters, this one is definitely for you. Disengage much of your brains usual activity (or in my case, don’t) and simply aim to kill the binary bugs that present themselves, it’s that simple. And great fun too!