It's common knowledge that the Xbox LIVE Arcade is full of titles, and that a number of them are re-makes of true classics. This includes the likes of Pac-Man: Championship Edition, Galaga Legions and R-Type Dimensions, well you can now add Lode Runner to the ever-growing list. Originally releasing in 1983, Lode Runner was ahead of its time, by being one of the first games to contain a level editor. Sixteen years on and the game has released on the Xbox LIVE Arcade as part of the 'Days of Arcade' campaign.
The goal in Lode Runner is simple: Collect all the gold without making contact with the enemy robots or getting yourself killed, using a floor-destroying gun. The gun can only destroy weaker floors to the left and right of the game’s unnamed character, and not directly underneath him. Destroying the floor offers new pathways to gold, but can also prevent the enemy from moving for a few seconds if they happen to fall into it. If an enemy happens to make contact with the player, a life is lost and the level is restarted; losing all your lives results in Game Over. More lives can be obtained through a bonus level at the end of each level, in which clever thinking is required.
In fact, the whole game requires clever thinking, but more importantly, doing it quickly. Players do not have the time to stand around and plan on how they are going to obtain each bit of gold - due to the game’s enemies. A lot of the fun in the game comes from the mad rush and the sheer excitement of escaping the robots. Another thing about Lode Runner is despite the many attempts you may have at a level, the urge to keep playing is there. To put it simply, it’s quite addictive.
One of the best features of Lode Runner is the amount of great game modes the title offers. The main game mode is ‘Journey’ – your typical campaign mode which sees gamers playing through the game’s sixteen chapters, with each chapter consisting of five levels. Depending on how long it takes you to complete each level the game mode offers a good few hours of play time to keep you occupied.
Possibly the most fun game mode to play is ‘Hang On’ in which players gather as much gold as possible whilst enemies pursue you. Twisting and shooting your way through a rather intense few minutes is possibly the highlight of the entire game, as well as being tremendous fun. The last of the single player game modes is ‘Puzzle Mode’ in which players simply have to gather all the gold, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Not only does the mode require clever-thinking and knowledge in order to succeed, but timing is crucial as well. At some points within the mode, players have to destroy a block, collect the gold and quickly return before the block re-appears. It truly is a challenge and one worthy of participating in.
All three single player game modes have been altered for the multiplayer so that co-op partners can join. Lode Runner supports up to four players on each of its multiplayer game modes. The Co-op Journey is slightly easier than the single player journey as the same amount of enemies and gold is evident. When one of the pair dies, a blue orb spawns on the level, which, if collected, resurrects the other player. This could prove vital as some of the gold requires teamwork and sacrifice in order to triumph.
Co-op Puzzle is more-or-less identical to the single player version with the added addition of some gold that can only be obtained through the use of co-operative play. 'Last Man’ is possibly the fastest game of tag you will ever see. The mode consists of three rounds with all four players having to survive for as long as possible from the pursuing robots. A timer runs for each individual player which totals up the amount of time the player has survived; once all players have been tagged, the next round starts. The victor is the one with the highest-time gained through the three rounds. It really is a joy to play and I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun on an Xbox LIVE Arcade title. All these multiplayer game modes are also available to play over Xbox LIVE, another great addition to the game.
Possibly the best addition, likewise to the title released 26 years ago (despite the game saying 25), is the inclusion of a Level Editor. Any level throughout the game can easily be recreated in the fairly simple-to-use level editor as well as any of your own ideas. These can then be shared over Xbox LIVE. The only real let-down with the level editor is that the controls take a bit of getting used to. Other than that, it’s very simple to use.
Graphically, Lode Runner has been done very well. Despite obtaining a fairly pleasant 3D makeover, it has still managed to keep the same style as portrayed in its 1983 release. From nice looking backgrounds to well designed ladders and blocks, Lode Runner is not only a beauty to play, but also to look at.
Lode Runner’s achievements reward nicely, but are quite time-consuming. They range from earning your first star to having to complete both single player and co-op journeys and therefore the sound of ‘bleep bloop’ will not be heard as often as you might like.
Controversy surrounded Lode Runner from release when the title originally pricing at 800 Microsoft Points changed to 1200 Microsoft Points hours later. This shouldn’t put you off purchasing this fantastic title though. One of my favourite Xbox LIVE Arcade titles to date and one I will be playing for a while to come.