Everyone has an off day, a dud, a momentary lapse. Well, this arcade game from Hewson was certainly by their standards, well below par.
For a company associated with high quality arcade games such as Technician Ted, Avalon, Exolon and Uridium, Gunrunner came as a bit of a disappointment.
In Gunrunner you had to save a distant ice planet from a bunch of not very nice aliens called the 'Destrovians'. This planet contained an elaborate set of pipes (plutonium pipes) which the Destrovians were going to sabotage. Enter you (as the Gunrunner) so save the day!
The game was a right to left scrolling arcade game played over a total of ten levels. Our main character was quite a nifty soldier, he could run left and right, kneel down and jump. At certain points you would acquire at Jet Pack which allowed you to take to the air and zip along the level rapidly.
As you moved along waves of Destrovians would attack you from both directions - and coming into contact with any of these took away one of your three lives. Losing a life also sent you back to the beginning of the current level. Bummer.
The Destrovians were devious though - you would come across booby trapped sections of pipework; bombs would blow you away and mines would decorate the surroundings using our hero's innards as paint.
You started this not quite classic game with a standard blaster as a weapon but this could be upgraded by picking up varying weapons left lying around by previous (and unsucessfull) freedom fighters.
These powerups (in classic arcade game fashion) included a tri-directional blaster, a temporary shield, the aforementioned jet-pack and a poison bomb which would take out all destrovians in the immediate vicinity (think smart bomb).
It was possible to have more than one powerup at one time though - so you could cause a lot of destruction with the jet-pack and tri-blaster.
At the end of each level there was a computer station - and once this had been reached then it was onto the next stage. Completing all ten meant the end of the game - and you were a gun-runing hero. Hooray!
It has to be said thsi arcade game was a bit of a let-down when it was released. It's not that it was bad game, far from it in fact. It was the fact that it was an average arcade game (in a shoot em up style), and was not of the high quality everyone had come to expect from Hewson. The look and feel was very much like Uridium (the character set, the monochromatic scrolling backdrops, even the enemy aliens moved in the same pattern as the enemy fighters) - without the overall polish and playability. Gunrunner was a moderate hit but never hit the heights of previous releases by Hewson.
The test of time:
Well Gunnrunner was merely 'pretty good' back then, and today it doesn't really offer anything special. The action is lacklustre and the gameplay is pretty flat. Of course most classic games seems simple by todays standards, but some of them (Uridium included) still have a certain amount of playability inside. Gunrunner does not really 'suck you in'. Worth a luck purely for interest.
Stick to your guns - and play any of the other Hewson classic games.
GENRE: Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: June of 1987
RELEASED BY: Hewson Consultants
DEVELOPER(S): Christian Urquhart and Mike Smith
PRICE: £7.95 - UK
Running a gauntlet in Gunrunner... not quite a classic arcade game
Classic Games and Arcade Games