Review by KFHEWUI

"A solid platformer that is over to quickly and offers no replay value"

After many years of staring as a side kick in several Army Men games, Vikki finally gets her chance to star in her own video game. The plot has something to do with Brigitte Bleu, Vikki's nemesis, is trying to get rid of Vikki, and Vikki is thrown through a portal into a toy store. Now she must find her way home. Story really feels like it was an afterthought of the developer because there is zero plot development in the game and what little story telling there is comes from the instruction booklet. Lack of any effort for a coherent story ultimately hurts the game the most.

Portal Runner is 2D plat former, and the game takes place in a variety of places from toy store, castle, volcano, forest, and futuristic area. Each area has its own look and feel however the graphics are a mix bag while the backgrounds look nice and are detailed; the items and characters look rough. Arrows look more like dumbbells, and I could not even figure out what the final boss is supposed to be. Vikki does not look that bad, and she is nicely animated. Every once in a while in-between some levels there will be a still frame picture that shows what area the player is now entering into, and the picture does not look that bad.

Controls are simplistic and for the most part easy to grasp with D-Pad used for movement and "A" and "B" used for jump and attack in that order. The combat system is a little more in depth, and holding Down and attack will have Vikki perform a kick, and Vikki will use her bow as a default weapon however sometimes she will punch and tapping attack again will have her to do a spin kick. Tapping jump twice will have her do a spin kick, but hitting jump a third time when she starts to do the kick will have her do a downward kick. The controls for the most part are responsive, but in the heat of combat the bow and punch attack can be questionable at times.

The basic goal of every level is to collect gems (red blobs), and a certain amount has to be obtained to activate the portal. Gems are obtained by defeating enemies and also they are scattered about throughout the levels. Also scattered throughout levels are 1-up (at least one in every level save for boss levels) and blue blobs (look more like water drops) these restore health and larger drops restore more health. In some levels there will be a lion's head and grabbing it will summon Leo which Vikki can ride for a limited amount of time. While riding Leo, Vikki is invincible and can do major damage to enemies, but if time is running low, collecting a chick leg will give Leo more time. One major problem with Leo is that he is too fast so sometimes it is easy to over shoot a platform and fall into a bottomless pit.

At the end of each area is a boss fight, and the boss fights are weak and pathetic. Most of the bosses do not put up much of a fight and they have predictable attack pattern. The only difficult fight is the final boss, but this fight is difficult because it is drawn out. It takes around thirty hits to beat the first form, but the second form is cheap and annoying.

Music is one of the stronger points of the game, and there is a different song for each area of the game. Each track is catchy and unforgettable, and a few times I did find myself humming the music along. The sound effects are minimal from Vikki grunting and enemies popping to name a few.

Combat in the game is solid, and Vikki has a bow-and-arrow plus melee attacks. One nice touch is how holding down the attack will cause Vikki to draw back more which determines how far the arrow will fly plus she can aim at the ground, straight up, or diagonal. Besides basic arrows she can also use explosive arrows which are rare to find and are better off saving for boss fights. The enemies are generic including bats, ghosts, suits of armor, wasps, and scorpions to name a few. Also worth noting is that some enemies in the game cannot be killed at all.

Portal Runner is composed of thirty-six levels, and most of the levels are straight forward with only a few maze like levels plus most of the levels can be beaten in only a few minutes. The ending is definitely a problem, and beating the game on any difficulty other than hard will give the player a message to play on higher difficulty. After playing through the game on hard and the mind numbingly tough second phase of the final boss, I can say the ending is not worth the effort at all. This hurts the replay value since there are only three difficulties and no multiplayer at all. Also Portal Runner incorporates a password system with each password only being four characters long however the password system does not contain vowels.

Portal Runner is a solid game however the biggest flaw is the lack of replay value and since the game is so short most players will be able to plow through the game in no time even on hard only the bosses offer any challenge.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/08/12

Game Release: Portal Runner (US, 09/30/01)

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