Lode Runner review

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Lode Runner review

Say hello to the world’s biggest gold digger — and it’s not Heather Mills, Kevin Federline, or a contestant on Rock of Love Bus. It’s the Lode Runner guy, who’s been mining for gold on computers and consoles since 1983. For the series’ Arcade debut, it sticks to the formula: your prospector races through 2D levels, nabbing the precious metal and using his digging gun to form holes, temporarily trapping robot pursuers.

Vibrant HD graphics add new appeal to hellish lava mines and stony ruins. But the real draw is the mix of action and hardcore puzzle-solving: in the main campaign, you’re running non-stop, avoiding relentless robots while trying to figure out the exact patterns for unearthing buried treasure. Most levels are hectic, hard, and diabolically well-designed, making them frustrating but ultimately satisfying to beat.

A calmer puzzle mode removes the enemies and makes gold more difficult to dig up, while co-op variants of the campaign and puzzle modes demand teamwork, and up to four players can struggle to survive the longest in Last Man mode. It’s not groundbreaking so much as breaking ground, but for $15, you get over a hundred levels of brain-racking, reflextapping fun.

On XBLA

+ Addictive, frantic sidescrolling and puzzling-solving.

+ Impressive visuals; tons of levels; good multiplayer modes.

- Levels can be irritatingly tough — almost too challenging.

? Will the recession keep gold values rising?

8.0

 
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