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Video Game / Road Runner

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Road Runner, that Coyote's after you; Road Runner, if he catches you, you're through!

Road Runner, an arcade game based upon the Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons, was released by Atari in 1985 and later ported to several other formats. The goal is simple: Guide the Road Runner around the New Mexican desert to eat as much bird seed as possible whilst avoiding Wile E. Coyote's tricks and traps, oncoming traffic, and other environmental hazards.

Road Runner contains examples of these tropes:

  • All or Nothing: A bonus rewarded at the end of each level for eating every last morsel of bird seed and, in later levels, drinking glasses of lemonade. Consuming them all earns a bonus of 10,000 points; missing one of either means getting nothing for their respective bonuses.
  • Ash Face: Explosions will cover both the Road Runner and Wile E.'s entire bodies in ash.
  • Amusing Injuries: Wile E. will occasionally get crushed by rocks, blown up by land mines, and even fall victim to his own contraptions.
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  • Auto-Scrolling Level: Though the game is rather generous by allowing players to progress at their own pace, if too much time is spent in one spot, the game start will force forward movement by itself.
  • Back from the Dead: It's entirely possibly for the Road Runner to survive getting caught by the Coyote. It's simply a matter of Wile E. attacked by one of his own hazards as he carries the Road Runner off screen.
  • Binomium ridiculus: Just like the cartoons, the Road Runner (Verus Quickus) and the Wile E. (C. Jonesus Creatus) are given mock Latin names.note 
  • Bottomless Pits: Only found in every fourth level.
  • Chase Scene: Pretty much all this game is.
  • Cut and Paste Environments / Hard Mode Filler: There are only four different stage layouts. Each time a stage layout repeats, more obstacles will be added that have to be avoided.
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  • Death Course: The narrower passages on later maps qualify.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In the arcade version, losing a life won't penalize the player by resetting the value of bird seeds. Other versions, however, avert this by resetting the bird seed to its base value.
  • Determinator: The Coyote.
  • Endless Game: Averted in the Commodore 64 port, which ends after Level 16.
  • Every 10,000 Points: Extra lives are awarded for reaching various scoring thresholds (these depend on the version).
  • Evil Laugh: The Coyote will occasionally do this (or something like it) if he catches the runner:
    "Heh, heh, heh, heh!"
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Unlike the cartoons, where the Road Runner seemingly flies over pits and the Coyote's falls into them are delayed for humor's sake, the game completely averts this trope for both of them.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Wile E.'s traps are among the very few things that can injure him.
  • Impassable Desert: The Road Runner can only travel along paved roads and certain portions of the sandy terrain.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": Averted. Land mines automatically detonate when stepped upon.
  • Level Goal: In order, the four maps end at these points:
    • Map 1: After a series of sidewinding roads.
    • Map 2: After passing under a cliff from which rocks fall.
    • Map 3: After a series of narrow streets with cannons on at least one end.
    • Map 4: After jumping over a canyon and crossing a wooden bridge.
  • Losing Horns: Type B plays occasionally if the Road Runner gets caught.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Averted in most cases. Aside from axle grease on the road in every fourth stage, every hazard on the ground that can impede the Road Runner can also impede the Coyote.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Logic straight from the cartoons: No matter how bad the Coyote's injuries are, he will always come back with the strength to try and catch the Road Runner.
  • No Plot? No Problem!
  • Pacifist Run: Technically speaking, since there's no way for the Road Runner to directly attack the Coyote, this whole game is a pacifist run.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The in-game music includes "The William Tell Overture", "Flight of the Bumblebee" (by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov), 'Sabre Dance', and "Trepak".
  • Ratchet Scrolling: Unlike 99% of side-scrolling games, this game has the Road Runner moving from right to left. However, the trope is played fairly straight since there's little, if any, opportunity to pick up any seed that's disappeared off the right side of the screen.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Besides the four Public Domain Soundtrack examples, one of the songs that plays during the attract mode is "This Is It", the original theme song to The Bugs Bunny Show, which was still airing at the time.note  Also, during the Game Over sequence, either "Merilly We Roll Along" (the Merrie Melodies theme) or the ending version of "The Merry-Go-round Broke Down" (the Looney Tunes theme) will play depending on whether or not the player makes the high score list.
  • Respawn on the Spot: Played straight in most cases. The only exception comes in the sandy labyrinth at the start of the second map; if caught there, you start at the beginning.
  • Road Runner Needs Food Badly: Outside of reduced scoring, there's no penalty for missing a single serving of bird seed. Missing five during the same life, however, will case the Road Runner to faint, making him easy pickings for the Coyote.
  • Road Runner vs. Coyote: Natch.
  • Rubber-Band A.I.: If Wile E. lags so much that he disappears off the screen, he'll come flying toward the Road Runner on a pair of rocket skates.
  • Run, Don't Walk: The original arcade version features an analog joystick that allowed the Road Runner to run at three different speeds, but it's much easier to have the Road Runner moving at his fastest speed. (Home versions tend to lack this feature, meaning the Road Runner will always move at a set speed.)
  • Save Scumming: The arcade version has a tunnel that works as a Warp Zone that leads to the start of a later level, with the player's score preserved. This can only be done a limited number of times.
  • Score Multiplier: Eating consecutive piles of bird seed increases their point values (100, 200, 300... up to a maximum of 1,000). Missing one results in them returning to their base value, but the point values can still be increased.
  • Scripted Event: Wile E. will always ride on a rocket and hop onto a pogo stick on the second map, then he'll strap himself into a jet pack on the fourth. These contraptions will always backfire on him at specific points in both cases.
  • Side View
  • Super Speed: Not in this game. The Road Runner's top speed is only about 1.5x the speed that the Coyote runs on foot. Even at his fastest, the Road Runner can't outpace the Coyote's rocket-powered skates.
  • That's All, Folks!: This message appears when the game ends, but with the Road Runner standing in place of Porky Pig.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Much like the cartoons, there are several ways Wile E. can be hurt, but all of them are results of either his own traps or environmental hazards.
    • Finding ways to hurt the Coyote is also encouraged; there's an end-of-level bonus for how many times he gets hit.
  • Video Game Geography: The deserts in New Mexico are apparently cylindrical. The end of each level seamlessly transitions to the start of the next, with the end of the fourth map returning to the start of the first map.
  • Warp Zone: The first level features a tunnel that might open up for players as a "short cut" that works as a continue feature.