Flash back to, oh, 1983 or so. I was only like, in kindergarten or first grade, and we just got our very first home computer: the Apple ][+ (you know I’m hardcore because I used brackets). I used the computer mostly to play games, in fact, you could say it was my first ‘gaming console.’ I was playing near arcade perfect versions of Pac-Man while everyone else was cursing the poor port on the Atari 2600. Anyway, while my two favorite Apple ][+ games were Aquatron and Spare Change, another game that grabbed my interest a lot was Lode Runner. It looked like Donkey Kong, had Pac-Man-like run and chase gameplay (I thought the ‘gold’ you collected looked like hamburgers), and had some puzzle elements, too. Now, 25 years later, you can play a new updated version of Lode Runner on Xbox LIVE. And for the week of September 14, it’s available on sale for only 800 MS Points!
Lode Runner is an arcade action maze puzzle game where you must collect all the gold scattered about to progress to the next stage. Climb ladders and ropes and avoid enemies trying to chase you down. Your signature move in the Lode Runner games is a drill used to break a single block to the left and right of you. You can then trap enemies in the holes or fall through them to reach other parts of the maze. Drilling holes also has a bit of a puzzle element to them, as you must be careful not to fall into a hole you can’t get out of. Drilled blocks will regenerate over time, so you don’t want to be trapped or you’ll lose a life. New kinds of blocks on the Xbox version will keep you on your toes.
The Xbox LIVE version of Lode Runner is “Lode-ed” with gameplay modes as well. The single player journey is a mix of puzzle and action as you make your way across stages to find hidden treasure and gold. There are also co-op and competitive versions of Journey Mode and others for two players. In the Hang On mode, it’s a challenge of survival as you try and collect as much gold as you can while avoiding waves of roving enemies. And in Puzzle Mode, you have to figure out tricky solutions to get all the gold in the mazes. If that’s not enough, you can even design your own levels and share them with friends!
One of my favorite additions was a history mode where you can view a timeline of all the Lode Runner games and interesting facts and pictures about the series. I didn’t even know there were arcade versions of Lode Runner, and the Famicom version (Japanese NES) was the first third party Famicom game to sell more than a million copies!
The action in the Xbox Lode Runner is a bit quicker than what I remember, so you’ll need to be fast on your feet when maneuvering around the mazes. Luckily the play control is responsive enough to compensate for the quicker gameplay. Though the game is 2-D, the 3-D graphics look cool and make the flow of travelling to different levels really neat. You’ll definitely want to snag Lode Runner on Xbox LIVE this week (9/14), because it’s a good deal at 800 points. 1200 points is a bit steep, so don’t delay!
Hardly any violence here. You can squish bad guys (and yourself) in blocks, but nobody dies. You just regenerate at a different part of the maze. Younger players might get a little frustrated at the higher difficulty levels, and reading skill is helpful for the tutorials and navigating around the menus. Kids might enjoy making their own levels, though, and two players can play at the same time in both co-op and competitive modes. Lode Runner is rated E for Everyone.
And in the comments section, if you played games on the Apple ][ back in the day, let me know what your favorites were!