reviews\ Jul 21, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Tobi On The Run - PC - Review

Tobi on the Run is a straight-forward and simplistic puzzle game that has taken it’s gameplay mechanics from such classic games as Lode Runner.  You’ll play the part of Tobi and, as the name suggests, you’ll also be “on the run.”  Running from platform to platform, climbing up ladders and collecting rings, that is what this game is all about.  The 50 included levels become increasingly more complex and intricate as you progress and fortunately, more entertaining. 


The point of the game is to collect all the ‘golden-donuts’ on each stage, after collecting them all you will have to make your way to the extraction point on the map without getting caught.  Golden-donuts are not always easy to find either; sometimes you will have to dig up pieces of the ground in order to find them.  This whole time you will have chasers attempting to catch you, constantly running around, falling from platform to platform, climbing up ladders and swinging hand-over-hand on overhead poles.  As you venture deeper into the game you’ll have more and more chasers breathing down your neck.  If one of these chasers catches you the level will have to be played over from the beginning.  Luckily, you’ll be able to dig holes that the chasers can fall into, this gives you some time to formulate a new strategy but you’ll have to think quick because they will only stay in the hole for a few seconds before they get back out and maintain their chase.  The holes you dig will gradually refill themselves and if either you or your chasers get caught in a hole while it is refilling it will kill you, though the enemy simply re-spawns a few seconds later.  Each time you complete a stage it will be denoted with a triumphant blowing of horns.


Graphics are incredibly one-dimensional and harkens back to the days of old-school arcade games on which Tobi has quite obviously taken it’s inspiration from.  In all honesty, this game could have been almost pixel-for-pixel ported to an Atari 2600 while maintaining complete visual clarity, there are instances where pre-rendered graphics are presented, like when you die and a detailed-looking angel floats to the top of the screen, though.  Character models are around the size of the thimble on a 17-inch monitor and are comprised of only a few basic colors.  The various atmospheric platform additions vary widely from concrete to dirt-type floors.  There are ladders, poles, platforms, and a few characters on-screen at any given time, that’s about it.  Suffice to say that this game won’t be winning any technological achievement awards for it’s visuals, but it gets the job done and looks aesthetically appealing considering the lack of graphical enhancements. 


Music consists of a handful of light-hearted ditties that fit the simplistic premise of the game well.  Sound effects are over-the-top and every on-screen action has an aural sound clip to accompany it.  This comes in particularly useful for knowing what chasers are currently doing, for example if an opponent is falling from platform to platform in an attempt to catch you you’ll be notified by the wacky sound clip that that action triggers. 


Tobi on the Run is an entertaining, albeit overly simplistic puzzle/platform game that should provide more than a few hours of entertainment for anyone looking for a sit-down-and-play type of mind-bending action game.  A couple additional modes of play would have been nice but what is there proves to be quite a challenge in itself.  At a retail price of 15 bucks its hard to complain about lack of features, but a mere 50 stages that take an average of 4 minutes to complete hardly makes for a long-term gaming adventure, its more of a quick jaunt down old-school memory lane.



Gameplay: 7.4
Controlling Tobi is incredibly easy, you move around with the directional pad and dig holes with the Alt or Ctrl buttons.  This simple control method is what makes the game entertaining, avoiding the chasers and collecting the golden rings is all you really have to worry about in order to progress in this game.   

Graphics: 3.2
These graphics would have been impressive 20 years ago but in this day and age of cutting-edge 3D accelerators they look antiquated and obsolete.  The stick-figure-esque character models are comprised of around 3 separate colors and the various atmospheric additions are only marginally diversified.

Sound: 6.4
The music is surprisingly entertaining and fit the game nicely while the over-the-top sound effects mesh nicely with the action and also fill you in as to what the opponents are currently scheming.  Overall, the aural additions in this game are far better than any other part of the package.

Difficulty: Medium
Completing the included 50 stages will take some time and the later puzzles can be incredibly difficult to complete.  The simple mechanics of the game help to keep the difficulty level focused almost entirely on level design.

Concept: 4.5 
Lets be honest here, this is a blatant Lode Runner rip off.  Nevertheless, it manages to use the formulaic mechanics of the game to great effect.  There is no plot or storyline to speak of, but the on-screen action should speak for itself; you are Tobi and you are being chased, not much of a storyline is needed for that.

Overall: 5.5

I had quite a bit of fun with this title, but the antiquated graphics coupled with the fact that it only offers 50 quick stages equates to a game whose direct competition would be, say, solitaire.  However, at 15 dollars it may be worth the investment for some to get a few hours of enjoyment out of the game. 


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