Lode Runner 25th Anniversary Edition Review (XBLA)

Game Review: Lode Runner 25th Anniversary Edition (XBLA)
Release: April 22, 2009
Genre: Action Platformer
Developer: Tozai Games
Available Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1 to 4
MSRP: 800 MS Points ($9.99)
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

In Lode Runner you navigate a 2D maze avoiding enemies and collecting gold. Enemies can be trapped for a short time by digging a hole for them to fall into. It’s a simple set of rules but it has kept Lode Runner popular in all of its inceptions since 1984. This 25th Anniversary Edition has been completely remade from the ground up for Xbox Live Arcade with high resolution 3D graphics and several new game modes – and in March 2011 the price was permanently lowered from 1200 MS points to 800 MS points.

There are several ways to play this remade Lode Runner, so let’s go over each of them separately beginning with the single player modes.

Practice Mode: This is a small collection of simple levels to serve as a primer. It’s here that you learn how to navigate, blast holes in the ground, and collect gold. New terrain types such as avalanche blocks, stalactites and teleports and hidden enemies that appear from blasted blocks give this old game a fresh feel.

Journey Mode: This is a long sequence of levels that represent your journey. The levels get increasingly more difficult and with more enemies as you progress through . This mode plays just like the classic Lode Runner that everyone is familiar with. Be warned though, with all the new additions to the game, this mode is tougher that ever.

Hang On Mode: This is simply a survival mode where you try to stay alive and collect as much gold as possible.

Puzzle Mode: My favorite of all the modes is the Puzzle Mode. There is a collection of 50 mind bending puzzles to solve with the simple goal of getting the gold and getting out. The puzzles are devious and rewarding to solve without enemies trying to hunt you down and kill you.

My Levels: Here is where you play levels created by you with the built-in level editor or levels you have downloaded from the XBL community. The level editor is pure bliss to use and allows great looking levels to be created and revised quickly and easily. However, I was disappointed to find nobody sharing their levels at any time I was playing.

The Multi-Player modes range from local 4 player coop to a last man standing free for all. Of course you can also play with your friends over XBL if you can catch them online. This, again, was somewhat disappointing as I could never find anyone playing online while I was.

My favorite part of this remake is definitely the Puzzle Mode, but I’m partial to puzzles and other cerebral gymnastics over the “die and try again” gaming found in the Journey Mode. It’s amazing just how much content is crammed into this game when taking in all the modes of play and the vast number of levels and puzzles. Plus there is new downloadable content available to add even more puzzles and coop Journey Mode levels.

The one thing that is really lacking is the community side of Lode Runner. In order to get user made levels from others, they have to be online and create a lobby to share their levels at the same time you are looking for them. This limits exchanges to pre-arranged meetings rather than building a common repository for all players to access. With the level editor being one of the shining jewels of this game, the un-inspired method of sharing user creations will keep the online community around Lode Runner from flourishing.

The Journey Mode is far more challenging than the original Lode Runner to the point it sometimes becomes tedious and frustrating. If you are looking to relive days of past by playing this remake, you may be disappointed in this part of the game. While the graphics are beautifully done, something in the gameplay has been lost. Fortunately there are so many ways to play this version of Lode Runner that there is sure to be something here for everyone.

The bottom line is that even though I found the main Journey Mode to be frustrating I really enjoyed the puzzle mode and playing in the level editor. The price has been permanently lowered to 800 MS points and the DLC is priced very reasonably. The already released “Skill Pack” adds 50 new puzzle levels and new “Hang-on” survival levels for only 160 MS points. On April 13th the “Journey Pack” will be released for only 240 MS points adding a coop journey adventure.

With this much variety in a game, there is bound to be something that each person does not like, but that shouldn’t take away from all the things that are here to enjoy. My hope is that the online community around Lode Runner will grow so I can play everyone else’s puzzle creations.

  • Challenging and Enjoyable Puzzles
  • Expansive and Affordable New DLC
  • Full Featured Level Editor
  • Aggressive New Pricing
  • Frustrating Journey Mode
  • Absent Online Community

Final Score: 8 out of 10

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