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Maze Runner (DOS)

Maze Runner DOS Title screen


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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (41003)
Written on  :  Oct 22, 2014
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars
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Challengingly good!

The Good

I always assumed that my favorite company, Apogee Software, was established in the early ‘90s, releasing hit after hit such as Wolfenstein 3-D, Alien Carnage, and Rise of the Triad. I found out years later, though, that Apogee started its life in the mid-’80s, but their games released back then were as fun to play as their later games. One such example is Maze Runner, a game that was included on the Adventure Fun-Pak and on Big Blue Disk #26.

The objective of Maze Runner is to search for the legendary Heart of Courage located deep within the Ezam dungeons. Upon entering the dungeon, the player is given a brief glimpse of it, just seconds before the dungeon is blanked out and few of the walls are still visible. Part of the fun is trying not to crash into the invisible walls while you escape the “lost souls”, and trying to find the exit on the right side. In the event that you are trapped, you can use a teleport spell to warp to a different location. The further you progress in the game, the more lost souls you have to deal with. No dungeon is the same every time you play the game, so Maze Runner offers some randomness.

Scattered throughout the dungeons are various other items (besides teleports) that help the player get through the maze. Among these is a map, represented on the screen as a blinking object that reveals the entire maze's walls, including the exit on the far right. Also, there are pickaxes which can be used to break certain walls.

Before you start the game, you have the choice of using either color or monochrome graphics. This choice is ideal for people who still didn't have a CGA graphics card back in the day. Everything is presented in a third-person view and the game uses the ASCII character set to depict the maze and its objects. Even with the ASCII standard, everything looks detailed and much bigger than those sprites in Kroz.

Sound-wise, there is no background music, and the effects are similar to those in the Kroz games. Although the PC Speaker would sound terrible for music, If Miller decided to include music, the player would have been given the option of choosing music or effects, but not both. (The music would only drown out the effects.)

The Bad

There is no save feature, so you are forced to finish the game in one sitting. To add insult to injury, touch any of the lost souls and you are out of the game. Between levels, there is a boring time-warp which ends immediately at the start, but gets longer the more levels you progressed through.

The Bottom Line

Maze Runner is an early game from Apogee Software where you are trying to navigate a series of dungeons searching for the legendary Heart of Courage. Your quest becomes difficult as you progress through the game, with one or two “lost souls” added after each dungeon and more of the walls hidden from view. Pluses for the game include the randomness of the dungeons and the different color schemes the game uses, while minuses include the only one life you have, the lack of a save slot, and the stupid time-warp effect. Still, don’t let this stop you from trying out the game. If you didn’t get the opportunity to play Maze Runner when it was first released, you can download the freeware version from the 3D Realms web site.