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North American PlayStation 2 cover art
|Developer(s)||The 3DO Company|
|Publisher(s)||The 3DO Company|
|Designer(s)||Michael S. Maza|
|Release||Game Boy Color
Portal Runner is a platform video game produced by The 3DO Company for the PlayStation 2 game console and Game Boy Color handheld on September 10, 2001 in North America and one month later on October 19 in the UK.
It all started when General Plastro, the general of the Tan army, loosely based on general Douglas MacArthur was captured by the Green Army and locked away. Bridgette Bleu observes this through a magic mirror and makes sinister plans to obtain Sarge and kill Vikki Grimm (she wants to share all that she owns with a king and says Vikki is a treasure waiting to be buried).
As Vikki follows Sarge to his mission, she ends up in a giant outer space chessboard and then a candy store. Then Vikki has to fight off gingerbread men to continue her mission for a better story, as if the fact that gingerbread men were attacking her isn't good enough. Now, Vikki finds Sarge trapped in a castle by the gingerbread men and has to save him by using her arrow techniques to shoot down a plastic pig. After Vikki saves Sarge, he snitches on her by telling her father, Colonel Jack Grimm. Vikki gets into an argument with her dad and stormed out of the room. Then as she walks back to her army base, a green army soldier gave her a package from an unknown person. In it is a raptor egg and a letter. The letter said, "The story of your career awaits you. Follow the map and seek out the one called Rage. Tell no one, leave now." Sarge walks up and tells her that her father's right about her being too adventurous for her own good. Vikki walks off in disgust, with Sarge commenting about how that was a good start and how he'll be buying plastic flowers for a week.
Vikki uses a camera to take all of her pictures on her trip. During her trip, she was ambushed by Rage (a WarTrooper enemy from previous games), Bridgette's WarTrooper friend who will do whatever she says, and was forced to the prehistoric jungle toy world. That was also when she met Leo the lion, who was also forced to the same world as Rage destroys the portal. Vikki decides to be friends with the lion, which she calls Leo and they both help each other on this great adventure.
After enduring magic pillars, a pyramid, and air lifts, they come upon a volcano with another portal. Once they step through, they end up in a medieval world. Vikki rescues a wizard named Merlin from death in a chessboard. Merlin explains that he made a magic mirror that could see anywhere for Bridgette, thinking she would appreciate his mind. He directs Vikki to the castle to another portal, guarded by a ghosty barrier, an evil tree, and a moat dragon. When they reach the portal, they're captured by Rage and Plastro's soldiers.
Bridgette had captured Sarge and wanted to marry him. Bridgette acquired a love gun from some Martians in exchange for the secret of the portals and she used it on Sarge. She visited Vikki and told her what she had in mind and that Leo was going to be burned alive. As Vikki cries to herself, she contacted by Merlin. He informs her that he left a few secrets in the mirror before handing it over. When Vikki asks about Sarge's situation, the wizard tells her only the kiss of his true love can apparently break the inducement somehow. Meanwhile, in a toy store, Leo's about to be burned when he notices the bars are melting. He breaks out and travels to a portal that takes him back to the castle.
After fighting off some ghosts, he and Vikki head to the space world to stop the wedding. Once they acquire a stolen key from a martian saucer, Vikki breaks into the room and kisses Sarge, breaking the trance on him. A voice tells all Martians to report to battle. Vikki tells Bridgette to call off the attack. She tries, but some monitors show they expanded the attack into all the other worlds. While Leo and Sarge head to slow most of the soldiers, Vikki heads to the brain room, where the Brain refuses to call of the attack.
After Vikki destroys the Brain, the attack stops. Sarge and Leo head on, with Leo holding Rage's leg in his mouth. They meet up, as Merlin congratulates Vikki for stopping the attack, and they head back to their own world. Once there, Leo stays, showing that he wasn't guarding the portals but protecting his family. Back at the base, Vikki apologizes to her dad and says that her home is where ever he is, with her dad thanking her. The game ends with Bridgette sharing a cell with General Plastro, who says that before she gets any ideas, the top bunk is his and he blows a raspberry. Bridgette yells out, "Noooooooo!"
Reception and controversy
The PlayStation 2 version received "mixed" reviews according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. The Game Boy Color version gave an earliest review from Nintendo Power, which gave it a score of two-and-a-half stars out of five, just nearly five months before the game was released.
The PS2 version gained notoriety when it was panned by GamePro, with a rating of 2.3 out of 5. GamePro was the first to review the game, saying that it "looks like a late-generation PlayStation title rather than a second-generation PS2 effort." Trip Hawkins, then-president of 3DO and publisher of Portal Runner, sent an angry email to John Rousseau, who was president of GamePro. The email was published on the internet in its entirety. In the email, Hawkins told Rousseau that Rousseau's customers were the advertisers, not the readers, and implied that the reviews should be written to keep the advertisers happy. Wrote Hawkins, "...there is something wrong with (the reviewer), not with Portal Runner. If you disagree with me, you do so at your own peril.... I should mention in passing that 3DO has been one of your largest advertisers. Effective immediately, we are going to have to cut that back."
- Thompson, Jon. "Portal Runner (PS2) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- EGM staff (November 2001). "Portal Runner (PS2)". Electronic Gaming Monthly: 210.
- Helgeson, Matt (October 2001). "Portal Runner (PS2)". Game Informer (102). Archived from the original on February 11, 2005. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- Iron Monkey (2001). "Portal Runner Review for PS2 on GamePro.com [score in this link is given as "2 out of 5"]". GamePro. Archived from the original on February 3, 2005. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- Dodson, Joe (October 2001). "Portal Runner Review (PS2)". Game Revolution. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- Lopez, Miguel (September 12, 2001). "Portal Runner Review (PS2)". GameSpot. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- Alupului, Andrei (October 19, 2001). "Portal Runner (PS2)". GameSpy. Archived from the original on December 15, 2004. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- Parrotta, Dylan (October 19, 2001). "Portal Runner Review - PlayStation 2". GameZone. Archived from the original on October 4, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- Zdyrko, David (September 24, 2001). "Portal Runner (PS2)". IGN. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- "Portal Runner". Nintendo Power. 144. May 2001.
- "Portal Runner". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine: 160. November 2001.
- D'Aprile, Jason (October 19, 2001). "'Portal Runner' (PS2) Review". X-Play. Archived from the original on November 5, 2001. Retrieved May 13, 2015.
- "Portal Runner for Game Boy Color". GameRankings. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- "Portal Runner for PlayStation 2". GameRankings. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- "Portal Runner for PlayStation 2 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- Dubious Quality: The Shame of Trip Hawkins