Review: Desert Demolition Starring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote (Sega Genesis)

In this review, we become great customers for the ACME corporation as we play the Sega Genesis game Desert Demolition Starring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1995.

Judging by the endings in this game, both characters are striving to impress the ACME corporation. The question is, who will prevail?

At the beginning of the game, you have a choice of playing as either Wile E. Coyote or the Road Runner. The way the game plays differs by quite a bit by this selection. There are even unique endings for both characters.

If you choose to play as Wile E. Coyote, you play to beat each level by either making it to the end, flipping the end level switch, or defeating the last boss.

The levels are filled with traps. There are surprise doors, deadly pits, bombs, and a whole lot more. Everything is basically out to get you.

Along the way, you can find postage stamps. If you collect 125 stamps, you get to access a bonus level. The bonus levels allow you to collect more stamps, free lives, and other items within a time limit. The stamps are the most common and exist when you play either character.

Another item you can obtain is the screwball (red circle with the lightening bolt through it). You can collect up to 5 of these. While you can run normally, using one of these will allow you to run especially fast for a brief period of time (or until you run into something). These items exist for both characters.

A third item is the free life. These appear as an icon of Wile E. Coyote. Collect this item and earn a precious free life.

A fourth item found is the jar of water. As you might have noticed, you have a health meter. If that health meter runs out, then you lose a free life. To replenish this health meter, you need to collect the jar of water to replenish a large portion (or all) of your health. The interesting thing is the fact that you cannot collect jars of water with full health. This can prove beneficial in the grand scheme of things.

A fifth item is the stop watch. As you may have noticed, every level is timed. Not only is every level timed, but you actually don’t have a whole lot of it to complete each level. As such, you’ll find yourself racing to get to the end of every level before time runs out. If you run out of time, you’ll lose a free life. To make your time on each level a little easier, collect the stop watches. Each one will increase the total time you have left. you won’t get a huge amount of extra time, but it just might allow you to make it to the end.

Also along the way are ACME crates. I you jump into the ACME crate, you’ll get a predetermined item from the box. Each item will give you some kind of advantage. One item are spring shoes that allow you to jump up to higher ledges. Another item is the wing suit which allows you to fly small distances. You can also get rocket shoes which will propel you forward for moderate periods of time without the use of a screwball. An oddball item is the tiny wheel hat. With this, you do a headstand with this hat and wheel yourself down a line. Keep your feet up to retain balance by using left or right.

Some items you collect prove to not be so helpful. One such item is the tiny umbrella. If you get this, you’ll jump into the pit below with this item and just free-fall onto the ground below.

There are other features in each level that exist for both characters. One feature is the cannon. Some cannons allow you to aim yourself in five different direction. Other cannons only aim directly up. Use these to get an extra jump up or over a pit.

Another feature are the bounce pads. These pads will bounce you in one direction or another. A similar feature are speed wheels. Run over these speed wheels to get a boost in speed.

A trap that doubles as a useful feature are the anvil balloons. Initially, you might think of these as little more than traps. However, if you jump on them, you’ll bounce upwards, sending the anvil free-falling down below. A number of hidden items can be found by bouncing in these. If you take the low road, running is often sufficient to escape the anvils, but use an extra burst of speed just to be sure.

Trampolines allow characters to bounce upwards. Sometimes, they are used to grab extra items. Other times, they are used to allow you to make it to higher ledges.

Levers and plungers can be used to make things happen. To use, go up to them and press down. Dynamite plungers often cause dynamite to explode, sending a boulder upwards. Jump on the boulder before the explosion to get additional height.

One feature that can only be used by Wile E. Coyote are ladders. Up and down allows Wile E. Coyote to go up and down them.

There aren’t a whole lot of enemies in the levels themselves. The biggest threat to your character is the timer followed up by the general traps found throughout the levels. Still, there are a small handful of enemies found in this game. These enemies include the suicide bombing creatures. These creature emerge from tipped over ACME crates and explode on impact of your character. Other enemies are, well, bombs thrown at you and exploding barrels of gun powder.

Of course, the main enemy throughout the game is the Road Runner if you are playing Wile E. Coyote. While the Road Runner doesn’t necessarily directly do damage to you, you do get small bonuses for “catching” the pesky bird. If you touch the Road Runner, it will run away, but leave you with 4 stamps and a stop watch to replenish a few extra seconds. It doesn’t happen often, but you can catch the Road Runner from time to time.

In the final stage, you’ll face off against the Road Runner in the ACME corporation building. You take that bird on on the warehouse floor. The problem is, Road Runner is driving a giant fork lift. Destroy the machine and win the game.

If you play the Road Runner, there are some differences in the gameplay. The first noticeable difference is that some items slightly different.

One item is the health. Instead of jars of water, you’ll get yellow bird seed. Press down over top of the seed to replenish your full health.

Another difference is that the free life token is displayed as a Road Runner icon instead of a Wile E. Coyote icon.

While you can use most objects in the levels like Wile E. Coyote, you can’t use ladders. You can jump down from the top rung, but you can’t climb up.

In addition to this, you can’t use ACME boxes. Instead, Wile E. Coyote can unexpectedly emerge from these using the various power-ups to try and catch you. If Wile E. Coyote catches you, you will disappear from the screen and come back with less health. You can also take damage from bombs and significant falls as well, but your biggest health draining nemesis is Wile E. Coyote.

While evasion is a very important tactic, you can also hurt Wile E. Coyote. Since Road Runner is a fast bird, you can race past several traps without tripping them. This means that Wile E. Coyote will take damage. If the canine enemy takes damage, he will vanish from the screen for a moment and leave behind four bonus stamps and a stop watch. It is possible to damage him by using a screwball and running over him.

At the end of the game, you face off against Wile E. Coyote in the ACME warehouse. He is driving the large forklift trying to take you down. Destroy the forklift and beat the game.

Another thing to note is that the level order does vary slightly between characters. Still, you do actually take on every level in the game eventually regardless of character.

One of the criticisms I’ve read about this game is that the game is far too easy. This ultimately depends on the character you decide to choose. I played this game on the normal difficulty for both characters. The game is quite easy if you play the Road Runner. All you have to do is jump over a number of obstacles, climb a few barriers, and otherwise just run to the exit. The only real challenge when you play Road Runner is the final showdown. Still, if you know how to destroy the forklift, the game can be quite easy as long as you use Road Runners speed to your advantage.

The same cannot be said if you choose to play Wile E. Coyote. Instead of a number of obstacles, you literally get every obstacle in the game to avoid or overcome. In addition to this, Wile E. Coyote is slower and takes damage much more easily. In a number of cases, significant hits will drain your time by quite a bit. This is because he has a lot of comical reactions to being flattened, blown up, or falling down deep pits. I found the game to be fairly challenging, requiring the need to use an additional continue. While this game is easier than some of the other games I’ve played so far on the system, this game doesn’t exactly have a push over difficulty either if you play this character.

The games length is pretty moderate. It isn’t extremely long, nor is it a game you spend 30 minutes playing to beat. It leans towards being a shorter game, but not offensively so.

Probably my biggest complaint about this game is the fact that time limits are so short. The levels may have had some pretty decent structure. Unfortunately, because you will have to race through each level to beat the clock, the chances of really enjoying the level design is pretty much non-existent.

On a more positive note, the game does capture the humour the cartoon series is known for. The slapstick comedy is present in many different corners of this game. Most of the endings punctuate the humour quite nicely. Being able to retain that humour in the video game environment, especially in an adventure game like this, is quite impressive.

Generally speaking, there is some good gameplay to be had here. The game is a little short and the difficulty is lopsided in favour of the Road Runner. The time limits are a bit tighter than they should be and controlling Wile E. Coyote can be irritating. Still, there are plenty of collectibles, variety, and environments to keep this game interesting. So, it’s fairly solid on this front.

One of the positive’s I’ve heard about this game is the graphics. Some might even consider it quite ground breaking. Unfortunately, I don’t consider it ground breaking for a game of its time. I find games like Dirt Trax FX or Ridge Racer to have much more groundbreaking graphics than this. While it is pretty solid, I’m not one to call this the most amazing game around on this front. On a more positive note, the animation sequences and detailed environments work quite well. A solid effort all around as far as I’m concerned.

The audio, meanwhile, has an acquired taste quality to it. when it comes to music, this game is both innovative and repetitive. It is innovative in that the characters movements dictates what the music is going to sound like. Even the character choice matters on what the music sounds like. It is repetitive in that you get the same kind of music throughout the entire game. With the train whistle and forklift engine sound as the only unique sounds in the music side of things, the music will get somewhat repetitive by the end. Still, the variety throughout works quite well. The sound effects, however, are quite good.

Overall, this game is a nice effort on the system. There is some pretty solid gameplay to be had here. This game isn’t without its flaws, however. The controls for Wile E. Coyote can be rather irritating at times. The time limits are bit too tight because you never really get the chance to fully explore the different levels. Still, the slapstick humour is well preserved here. The different characters is a nice approach to the game. The graphics are pretty decent, though the audio has its weaknesses. A pretty decent game all around if you ask me.

Furthest point in game: Beat the game on the default normal difficulty setting with both characters.

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 70%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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