Doug Smith's imaginative 2D action puzzle hybrid debuted 35 years ago and it's still a blast to play. Lode Runner Legacy is a fitting tribute to the late visionary developer so let's explore what makes Lode Runner such a timeless classic.
For the unfamiliar, you play Lode Runner by moving your character around single-screen stages in order to collect all of the loot and escape. You can dig through brick-based blocks but only to your bottom-left and bottom-right. Therefore, you may accidentally trap yourself but thankfully, there's a convenient retry button. As you try and loot the stages, a variety of enemies will attempt to end your life. They either follow you relentlessly or move in predictable patterns so outsmarting them in order to emerge unscathed is a rewarding moment. Although you can't cause direct damage to foes, the fact that you can temporarily trap them in holes and use them as stepping stones is a very cool mechanic. Additionally, you may have to utilize that if an enemy ever steals a piece of treasure in order to reclaim it. Overall, traversing the stages while climbing ladders, shimmying across ropes, trapping enemies, and digging your way to victory is a ton of fun and is still highly enjoyable in this day and age.
Lode Runner Legacy looks and sounds great. It's developed by Tozai Games who also created the recent Spelunker games and very similar aesthetics are used here. Most notably, the audio is full of cute sound effects and cheerful arcade-style music that makes the whole experience feel lively and lighthearted. The characters are composed of voxels and pop off the screen beautifully with charming animations and bright colour palettes. However, one aspect that I find could use some work is the fact that the stages don't have much variety. They all look stereotypical and plain and could have definitely used different environmental themes.
One thing that Lode Runner Legacy excels at is providing a massive amount of content to enjoy. If you're playing solo then you can try and master 50 adventure stages, 20 extra levels that feature unique enemies, and a whopping 150 classic stages; all of which include their own leaderboards, too. On top of that, there are 50 puzzle-based stages to work through and an extensive Craft Mode that allows you to create your own characters, items, and stages. The in-depth tools are rather easy to use and playing other people's creations via the World Levels mode is a great deal of fun. If you want to play multiplayer then there's a whole two player cooperative campaign that contains 30 stages. I'm very impressed with the amount of content that they managed to cram into Lode Runner Legacy.
Obviously, Lode Runner Legacy is an old-school game and because of that, modern gamers might find it to be a bit too retro. The fact that you can easily trap yourself by not thoroughly planning ahead can be super-irritating if you're used to primarily playing modern games which, let's face it, are overly forgiving. All of that being said, if you love retro games or are a fan of the Lode Runner series then Lode Runner Legacy will provide hours of old-school enjoyment, especially if you like climbing leaderboards and striving for perfection.
Simply put, Lode Runner Legacy is a retro remake done right. The fact that it contains so much content while remaining true to the original game makes it a must-have experience for any gamer who's thirsty for old-school fun.
- + Fantastic classic Lode Runner gameplay that's as fun and tight as ever
- + Loads of modes and stages to enjoy
- + In-depth creation tools add a ton of value
- - Modern gamers may find the old-school mechanics to be too frustrating
- - Could use more visual variety