Game Review #6

For the game review this week, I decided to bust out my NES.

3-D World Runner

3-D World Runner is a Nintendo game developed by Square in 1987, and was the first Square game to reach American shores.  In the game, the player assumes the role of WorldRunner (known in Japan as Jack), a wild space cowboy on a mission to save various planets overrun by serpent-like beasts. The game takes place in Solar System #517, which is being overrun by a race of aliens known as Serpentbeasts, who are led by the evil Grax. As WorldRunner, the player must battle through eight planets to destroy Grax.

For its time, the game was technically advanced; the game’s three dimensional scrolling effect is very similar to the linescroll effects used by Pole Position and many racing games of its day.

3-D WorldRunner features many elements that are typical of a forward-scrolling rail shooter game, where the player focuses on destroying or dodging onscreen enemies against a scrolling background.  3-D WorldRunner incorporates a distinct third-person view, where the camera angle is positioned behind the main character.

As WorldRunner, players make their way through eight worlds, battling hostile alien creatures and leaping over bottomless canyons. Each world is divided into different quadrants, and the player must pass through each quadrant before the time counter on the bottom of the game screen reaches zero. In each quadrant, the player can find pillar-like columns that house power-ups, objects that are beneficial or add extra abilities to the game character.  At the end of each world’s last quadrant is a serpent-like creature which must be defeated to advance. A status bar at the bottom of the screen displays the player’s score, the time counter, the world number, the world quadrant, the number of bonus stars (items that increase the player’s score count) collected by the player, and the number of lives, or continues, remaining.

Part of the appeal and selling point of 3-D WorldRunner was its “3-D mode,” and it was the first of three games by Square to feature such an option. When the 3-D mode is selected, the game uses computer image processing techniques to combine images from two slightly different viewpoints into a single image, known as anaglyph images. The game was packaged with cardboard “anaglyph glasses,” which use red and cyan color filters to moderate the light reaching each eye to create the illusion of a three dimensional image.

This was one of my favorite games growing up.  It was back in the days when video games were actually challenging and you had to be pretty good at a game to complete it. 3-D WorldRunner has such a simple core mechanic that it is addicting.  It seems so simple to just jump and shoot on a mostly linear track.

The thing that I will never forget about this game is it’s soundtrack.  It is just one of those classic NES 8-bit soundtracks that is vintage and nostalgic.


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