Beer Run (Apple II) review
"Sirius Software's 1982 advertising material called platformer Beer Run 'a light-headed game of suspense.' Certainly the beer puns could flow thick and fast and in a sort of yeasty fashion where this game is concerned. But except for the twin schticks of cuteness and having a really cool title, Beer Run is one of Sirius Software's most minor efforts for the Apple II, and the surprise is that it's so slight that it just doesn't prompt any alcohol-related humour at all. "
Sirius Software's 1982 advertising material called platformer Beer Run 'a light-headed game of suspense.' Certainly the beer puns could flow thick and fast and in a sort of yeasty fashion where this game is concerned. But except for the twin schticks of cuteness and having a really cool title, Beer Run is one of Sirius Software's most minor efforts for the Apple II, and the surprise is that it's so slight that it just doesn't prompt any alcohol-related humour at all.
A minor Sirius game is worth slapping around, as a quick recap of some of Sirius' output will make any Apple II guru reel. Fly Wars, Twerps, Hadron, Epoch, Sneakers - and of course, Snake Byte, the game which lives on over twenty years later as 'that line that eats dots game' on mobile phones - are all terrific games.
And then there's Beer Run.
Imagine if you will that in The Sirius Building, beers rain gently and constantly from the sky, and we're talking full schooners here.
'Jeez, I could live 'ere!'
The Sirius Building is a snakes and ladders arrangement with fifty floors, five of which are visible on the screen at any one time. Your small block-handed stick figure hero can waddle left and right under paddle control, and climb or descend a ladder by pressing the button. To re-emphasise this point, know that in the days before joysticks were mainstream, you only had one axis of control on a dial, and a bright red button which broke all the time. This construction was known as a 'paddle'. So the button governs both your up and down movement in this game out of necessity.
The hero's goal is to catch (drink???) as many beers as possible whilst making for the top of the building and avoiding the attentions of both green splat-like beings called Guzzlers and drink-tray wielding left-and-right guys known as Bouncers. To leave a cluster of five platforms, an elevator must be reached, an elevator which appears at random. It's the worst kind of 'random', too, the kind dictated by your position on the screen to maximise difficulty.
The whole thing may sound like a recipe for decent old school gaming entertainment and a lot of rampant humour concerning inebriation, but it's really a quaint and tinkly feeling game which doesn't invite any great feelings of mirth when you play it. 'Tinkly' best describes the little crystalline tones that accompany such actions as climbing or descending a ladder. Your man waddles slowly, the Guzzlers float up and down the ladders, the Bouncers stutter along with about two frames of animation. It's mellow, man.
Catching falling beers is remarkably difficult - not because of their speed, they float, but because of bizarre collision detection where the schooners are concerned - and given that they net you one whole point each, the effort is barely worth it. Five, seven and nine icons appear at will (representing that many beers) and can be picked up with a mash of the button. The only really decent points are in the elevator rides.
The fundamental problem with Beer Run is that it's mostly a game of luck, and a fairly ponderous one at that. You can't jump to dodge anything and the screens are hardly rich in alternate routes, so it's pretty hard to avoid enemies (the Guzzlers in particular) if they choose to come your way. In fact it's often impossible. Patience and boredom tolerance are virtues as you hide in a corner waiting for all the monsters to clear the deck.
If you make it to the top of the first building, you score some major bonus points by jumping onto a blimp (which is a slight but admitted thrill) and then descend a second building, the 'Oly' building, doing the same things you did in the Sirius Building.
Beer Run is simple, annoyingly random, unexciting, weirdly-controlled, and whether by good taste or lack of inspiration, it doesn't get any mileage out of the whole beer theme. It's one surreal idea with a splat of charm and some gently wafting schooners which you can skol down in just a couple of screens. The game's jokey cult status with hunters of old Apple peculiarities must have grown out of the loveable idea of what it represents rather than what it is.
Community review by bloomer (February 05, 2004)
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