The original Lode Runner is a platform video game originally released back in 1983 by the now-defunct Broderbund Software. Unlike other platformers of its time, it was puzzle-oriented and allowed players to create their own levels. Nearly a quarter-century later (!), Lode Runner Legacy is here, courtesy of Tozai Games and O-Two inc. I’m still new to ‘retro games’ rebirth going on currently, but I soldiered ahead and played the original platformer (in my browser) to prepare myself for what lay ahead. I compared to the two and honestly, there’s much to love here.
Compared to the original, there weren’t many differences between Lode Runner Legacy and its predecessor, apart from the huge visual upgrade. Improvements like small indicators to letting us know where blocks were about to respawn were helpful, especially to gamers like myself that weren’t weaned on quarter-gobbling difficulty levels.
Appearance wise I simply LOVED Legacy because it’s cute and colorful in a way that makes me want to play with Legos. I kept telling myself I’d only play for ‘one more level’ for the sake of the review, but each time I failed a puzzle I had to go back and retry again. I know, I know…first-world problems.
Being a recently-converted fan of the original Lode Runner, I’m glad to see the formula still has what it takes; Legacy takes the spirit of its predecessor and runs with it. There are lights that pop-up after a block has been eliminated that gradually change color over time. When these floating lights turn red, blocks materialize, which can either be good news or bad news. The same goes for the little white stick men running around looking to snatch up the barrels I’m trying to retrieve. They’ll have sparks flying off of them to indicate they’ve taken possession of a barrel and the only way to get it back is to trick them into falling into a vacated block space.
And…that’s it! Less is more in this instance and it kept it thoroughly entertained (OK I lied, I’m still playing Legacy trying to beat another level) but that’s beside the point. Not every level I came across showed me the solution the moment I looked at the screen. I died multiple times puzzling out a level before the answer came to me and I could breeze through it. The difficulty is addicting and offered me a challenge I’d only experienced a handful of times. I found myself craving another challenge and wanting to get to the next level with that sense of accomplishment I’d ‘conquered’ Lode Runner.
And Legacy has me as a newfound fan too. The best way to describe it is a ‘package’ of goodies fans of the original will love here. There’s a nifty level editor and options for creating your own character tossed into the mix. It’s not quite Mario Maker… but technically speaking this addition opens up nearly a limitless supply of content since passionate fans can craft their own levels for others to play through. I can’t wait to see the clever and creative levels other people can come up with.
Personally, I preferred to play through the Adventure and Original modes included. Original is just that – a throwback to 1983 Lode Runner in all its glory with familiar levels I’d tried to get through previously. They were just as difficult as I remembered them, but contained that same addicting challenge that practically begged me to play just one more. Just one more! I can quit anytime I want!
I hope others follow my lead and give Lode Runner Legacy a chance, especially given how well the nearly 30-year old formula has held up. There’s nothing complex about it, except the puzzles, which is a great thing given how much strategy they provide. Who knows…with luck perhaps this remake will spawn a whole new generation of Lode Runner fans as it did for me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a few dozen levels that need some attention…