Updated: Feb 9, 2022
Published: January 7th, 2021
Author: Caitlynn Joann
Road Runner is a side-scrolling racing arcade machine game based on a cartoon short, Wile E. Coyote by Warner Bros. Road Runner was published by Atari in 1985. Other developers and publishers who worked on this game include Tengen, Midway Games West Inc., Mindscape, and Beam Software. While the game was going to be released in 1984, Atari decided to cancel the game and then released it in 1985.
When development began, the game was meant to use laserdisc technology for the background. When the player died one of the cartoon deaths would be shown on the screen. These laser-disc cut scenes were taken out before the release and the backgrounds were revered to computer-generated graphics.
The player attains the role of Road Runner and must dodge obstacles while outrunning Wile E. Coyote. Many traps include canons, land mines, and cliffs that must be avoided but can also lead to the downfall of Wile E Coyote. While there are traps, there are also bonuses. Piles of birdseed must be ingested by Road Runner as often as possible to prevent feeling faint or cease running. You can track your seed digestion with the Seed Meter at the top of the screen to indicate Road Runner’s energy level.
The player needs to ensure he can always see the Wile E. Coyote, as if you lose sight, he’ll come back and attack at high speeds and at times on rocket skates. If the player is too close to Wile E. Coyote, he will stick his arms out in an attempt to snatch you. If Road Runner sticks his tongue out twice at Wile E. Coyote, he will receive a tongue bonus for 2000 points. As the levels increase, invisible paint buckets will appear for Road Runner. If he manages to paint himself before Wile E. Coyote does, he will lose sight of you and become very baffled. When Wile E. Coyote acquires a helicopter, he will drop dynamite on the Road Runner. If he runs in a zig-zag fashion, it will be increasingly difficult for Wile E. Coyote to drop it accurately.
Road Runner can earn points in various forms. With birdseed, points increase by 100, up to 1000, per seed. If he misses a seed pile, it resets at 100. He can also drink lemonade, jump over landmines, and lure Wile E. Coyote into traps. If the coyote’s traps backfire, points are earned here as well. Road Runner can become temporarily stunned if he is hit by falling boulders. Road Runner dies if Wile E. Coyote catches him, if he is hit by a car, runs into a landmine, or falls off of a cliff (all reasonable explanations for death). While the game doesn’t “end” with traditional levels, it comes to a close when the player exhausts all three lives. When the game ends, the classic Looney Tunes ending theme will play.