Version Reviewed: 1.01
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5
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Lode Runner, at least to my perception, is one of those series that most everyone has played some incarnation of, but the number of people that actually, truly love it is quite few. Yet, familiarity breeds profitability, and so here we are with Lode Runner Classic, an iOS version of the first entry in the familiar series, that’s just…okay.
Lode Runner’s objective is to navigate ladders and bricks, which are destructible, in order to collect all the gold, before then climbing on a ladder to the top of the screen. Enemies that run around and steal the gold are also present, and there are two ways to tackle this problem: one, skillfully avoid them by baiting them into bad routes, or by using the brick destruction mechanic to get them to fall into a pit, which can then be crossed by running on top of their heads. Oh, and the bricks respawn, and occasionally will kill the enemies, which is a bad way to go. Of course, considering that bricks can only be destroyed diagonally, it makes it tricky to carve out paths with the bricks. Naturally, some levels involve this very heavily!
Now, the port job here was kind of half-baked. The game is iPhone/iPod-only, doesn’t support widescreen, and by default has a windowed view. It feels like it was made in 2009 and unearthed only recently. The interface is ugly and confusing too. The default control scheme of a virtual d-pad works decently, if only because there’s a visible indicator to show where the player’s thumb is on the d-pad. A touch-based control scheme is intriguing because it makes the game full screen, but it’s bad for actually controlling the game.
The game has a very rudimentary look that, thanks to the rise of retro revival games, stands out as its own art style instead of as just primitive graphics. They are still primitive, but it’s not the worst look. There’s also 150 levels to play, and they’re all accessible from the very beginning, so if a level gets particularly frustrating in one mode (Expedition being a mode for playing levels straight through with a limited set of lives, Time Attack to beat a single level as quickly as possible), then it’s possible to jump to another. The lack of Game Center support is baffling, but at least there’s a built-in leaderboard system for all 150 levels, which is not possible with Game Center.
Lode Runner Classic is not really essential for anyone that isn’t in love with the series, and while the game does pack loads of content, that’s really just it – there’s little redeeming value here.