Lode Runner Legacy is a modern recreation of a classic with the largest question being: Does simplistic gameplay from 1983 still hold up in 2018? This new entry also looks to build upon the create aspects that were pioneered by the original. Let’s go ahead and see how this all stacks up and we may get a sense of what Lode Runner’s future could be.
Release Date: March 29, 2018
Approximate Size: 261MB
Genre: Puzzle, Action
Developed by Tozai Games
Published by Tozai Games
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch, Also Available On PC
Lode Runner Legacy is a modern take on a classic, and while it doesn’t redefine the franchise, it does show that the same gameplay elements that defined it back when it launched in 1983 still hold up over thirty years later in 2018. Good gameplay and design can transcend eras and generations and this game displays that.
The goal you want to accomplish is simple, you maneuver around the levels to acquire collectables while keeping away from enemies. You have no jump button and no attack either, all you can do in terms of actively affecting the world is digging blocks, destroying them, so that you can either drop down to get a collectable or cause an enemy to fall.
This simplicity can quickly become disastrous and one must think several moves ahead because carelessness can result in unwanted death or trapped with no means to continue. Both are failures and will affect your score at the end.
Over the course of levels, these become more difficult the higher you go and that’s where this game gets special and fun. You see the game, at first, is too easy even by introductory standards but once you breeze through those levels, the game no longer holds your hand and respects your knowledge and understanding on how the mechanics work. Climbing ladders, inching across select ledges, and breaking bricks is what you’ll have to do to move forward, while either dodging enemies that want to attack you or get past them as they follow a pattern.
The gameplay isn’t the deepest and it’s not supposed to; that’s not what it’s set out to be known for. Instead, the game gives you a few tools and makes the levels difficult and forces you to think on the best ways to use these tools. This is good game design that many games with tons of content could look to for inspiration, but I can see where the lack of variety in gameplay could let other players down and turn them off from the experience. But I recommend you don’t look away if you like a challenge, a ton of content, and a vast creative suite.
This game isn’t for those searching for a deep plot, well written characters, or massive set pieces. This game is designed for puzzle enthusiasts and, so, the plot is entirely not existent.
The general motivating factor for Adventure Mode is for you to maneuver through the puzzle levels that are filled with enemies and regain stolen gold from the Evil Empire. Adventure Mode can be challenging in the latter levels and the enemy A.I. can be sneaky. The highlight of this mode are the small cutscenes that play out because they are a throwback to classic games and, like many aspects of this game, are adorable. I would definitely recommend this mode for a change of pace from the other modes and for the different dynamic enemies add to the puzzle solving.
This is the mode where I spent most of my time in. Gone are the enemies and in their place are some of the most difficult and creative puzzles this game offers. You maneuver through the levels and try to get all the collectables. You would think the lack of enemies would make things easier or provide less stress to the player but that isn’t the case. Some levels will provide a level of stress that other games would dream of, but this only serves to make the player better and provide some of the greatest sense of accomplishment you’ll feel. Definitely recommend this mode for new players wanting to learn the game, especially the earlier levels, and it’ll better equip the player for the adventure mode.
A welcomed surprise when I downloaded this game was to see that included in this package are the original 150 levels of Lode Runner.
Beautifully recreated in a higher resolution and running just as good, if not better, as it had back when it originally launched in ’83. This was obvious before my time but getting a chance to time travel and experience one of the pioneers of gaming as a popular form of entertainment is a privilege and, yes, the gameplay holds up perfectly well and reaffirms that good gameplay can stand the test of time. My time in this mode will probably eventually overtake the puzzle mode but both are extremely satisfying and a wonderful experience. I do want to mention that the enemy A.I. in this mode seems way more determined to make sure you fail, they seem more active and involved in the experience.
This mode is where everything is taken to a whole other level and magnifies the replay value of this package to infinite numbers. Lode Runner Legacy provides a large section for those who are creatively inclined and these levels can be uploaded for everyone to download and play. Essentially you have an unlimited supply of levels that require different techniques to conquer and various enemies to avoid. Like Mario Maker, these levels are on a large spectrum in terms of difficulty but accomplishing those difficult ones will bring you immense satisfaction. Lode Runner was the first to provide a level creators but I don’t think those developers ever expected consumers to ever be able to create what they have been able to. People are amazing, their creativity limitless, and this game demonstrates a small part of that. A complete joy.
Lode Runner Legacy is perfect to play in bursts or for large challenging sessions. The gameplay is simple, but the level designs and enemies offer a satisfying challenge to overcome.
There are many modes, a plethora of levels, and a few that can be played cooperatively. The game nails exactly what it sets out to; recapture the magic of the original and apply it to modern times. Modes have leaderboards for those looking to compete for that top spot of bragging rights and with an unlimited supply of levels and challenges, it’s a great time to have. No frame rate issues or technical difficulties of any kind.
The only negative is the optional first-person camera because it doesn’t work but no points are docked because of this, just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean someone else can’t master it. Simply, not my cup of tea but everything else is.
Lode Runner Legacy has a healthy creation system, deep and full of freedom for those who love to build and create. It’s pretty spectacular what can be created and your only limited really by your imagination with the tools you are given. This creation section can be broken into three categories: Character, Item, and level.
The character creator is where I spent most time in when it comes to creating aspect of the game. My only real limitations were of my own doing but someone else can shape these into original characters or recreate iconic ones.
The level creator is where most creators will get the most out of this game. I’m almost convinced that there are only really two kinds of creators in this game. Those who make simple levels to give instant, easy gratification to players and those who are spawns of Satan who get enjoyment out of creating impossible levels and feasting on the tears of frustrations of unsuspecting players. I am a masochist of course.
The item creator allows you to design what players will be collection as they traverse through your creative levels and ties it all together in a nice package.
There are no complaints to the creation aspects of this game, it’s a ton of fun to play and create. My only wish, maybe for the future, is for more variety in locations but this complaint can be spread across the entire game.
The visuals in this game are unique, something I didn’t know the name of but learned it’s a style called Voxel. The game sticks out among other indie games because of how other titles seem to harken back to 8 and/or 16 bit graphics and this adds another layer to the games aesthetics. It ties it all together nicely.
The character and enemy designs, the base ones, look nice. The game does well to switch up the enemy types and space them out so that they never become too frequent. Then you have what can be created and the spectacular visuals get some variety and show just how appealing this game can look under these circumstances.
Despite everything looking great in this fascinating graphical choice, I can’t help but wish they would have used more colors and different locales to showcase what could be expanded upon in the graphics department. Ice levels, grassy areas, etc. Could all have made this game stick out more and brought more recognition to the game. It’s a shame, really, because the game seems to nail everything at variety.
The music in the game will transport older players back to when they used to go to their local arcade to play games, the sound does well to harken back to that long gone era that used to be so prevalent.
You will like the music, the sound team did a great job with it. Newer players may not be familiar with arcades but they will recognize that the music is a throwback and it’ll earn their appreciation. Good music.
As for the sound effects, they are adorable and serve their purpose. You can’t not dislike the sound choices the team has gone with. There is a charm that was chosen for this new release in this iconic series and the original levels included have preserved the originals sounds with respect. I can’t complain about anything relating to the sound, it’s cute and adorable. You won’t find any symphonies or adrenaline rising beats but you will find simple music that enhances the overall simplicity and fits the game well.
Lode Runner Legacy is loaded with content and open freedom for individuals to dabble into their creative sides with little restrictions.
Puzzles increase in difficulty as you progress through the levels and the gameplay does still hold up after 35 years, but the gameplay is where I can see gamers getting turned off.
Unfortunately for Lode Runner, we live in an era where dynamic gameplay is prevalent and new ways to play are being discovered constantly, so players may see this simplicity and not give it a shot. That would be a shame.
I’ve really grown to appreciate and enjoy Lode Runner Legacy and I think others could too; I definitely recommend this game.