REVIEW: Lode Runner: Legacy

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

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oprainfall | Lode Runner: Legacy
Title Lode Runner: Legacy
Developer Tozai Games, Inc., O-TWO inc.
Publisher Tozai Games
Release Date July 13th,2017
Genre Action, Casual, Puzzle
Platform PC (Steam)
Age Rating N/A
Official Website

Lode Runner is a long running game series that has been around since the early days of gaming. Though its original creator, Doug Smith, sadly passed away in 2014, the series he created is still bringing us its unique style of puzzle-platforming gameplay. Lode Runner: Legacy is the latest entry in the series, which uses retro-styled voxel graphics for an interesting new look. The bad guys have stolen all the gold and it’s up to the Lode Runner to get it back. The bad guys aren’t just going to let you walk away with all their loot, though! Do you have what it takes to collect all the gold on each level while avoiding baddies and then escape in one piece?

Lode Runner: Legacy | Mode selection screen / main menu.

Mode selection screen/main menu.

In each level of the game, the goal is simple: get all of the gold while avoiding baddies, then reach the top of the screen to escape! Enemies can climb ladders and hand-over-hand bars just like you can, but they don’t have your laser blasting skills. This means you are the only one who can bust blocks, allowing you to drop down to a lower platform. Alternatively, you can blast a block between you and a baddie and he’ll fall in as he tries to walk up to you. Rather than falling down to the lower platform like you can, he will just get stuck in the space where the block used to be. After several seconds, a busted block will respawn, and it will kill anybody who is still in that space when it does.

There is also a scoring system in Lode Runner: Legacy. Trapping baddies in holes you blast out earns you points, as do other things like killing them (after which they quickly respawn), picking up gold, etc. As you play the level, the bonus points counter at the bottom of the screen decreases from 10k in 10 point intervals. As time progresses, the multiplier shown to the right of it will also decrease. You start the level with a score multiplier of 3x. All points you earn are multiplied immediately by the current multiplier value before being added to your score. Time bonus points left when you finish the level are multiplied by the remaining multiplier value upon level completion. So a faster clear time really helps increase your score a lot thanks to both the multiplier and the time bonus points.

Lode Runner: Legacy | An early Adventure Mode level.

An early Adventure Mode level.

Scoring isn’t just about points, though. There are also stars to earn in each level. In Adventure Mode, there are three stars to earn on every level. One is earned just for clearing the level, another for clearing it without any deaths, and a third star is earned by beating the scoring goal for that level. In Puzzle Mode, the first star is earned just by clearing the level, with the other two earned by clearing the level within two different time limits. In Classic Mode and World Levels there are only two stars per level, and they are the same as the first two star objectives in Adventure Mode. The stars themselves don’t do anything aside from unlocking various achievements if you collect enough of them. Across Adventure, Puzzle, and Classic Modes, there are 900 stars to get in all.

Throughout its handful of different game modes, Lode Runner: Legacy has puzzle solving, racing the clock, and action. This means you can play differently depending on whether you’re in the mood for beating the clock or the more casual style of Puzzle Mode. Depending on how many baddies are in a level, things can get stressful at times in this game. Adventure Mode and Puzzle Mode have 50 levels each, plus 150 more levels in Classic Mode, for a total of 250 levels packed into the game. Add to that the user-made levels in the World Levels mode and you have an almost endless supply of levels to play.

Lode Runner: Legacy | The level completion screen.

The level completion screen.

Lode Runner: Legacy is not the first entry in the franchise to feature a level editor. In fact, the Lode Runner series was one of the first video games to add a level editor. Lode Runner: Legacy‘s level editor is pretty simple to use. Simply select an item from the palette on the bottom of the screen and draw by left clicking with the mouse (delete by middle clicking). There are also shortcut keys for cycling through the various items you can place. Your level can be one of four different sizes, from small to extra large, and contain up to 60 gold and 20 enemies. The menu icon on the lower left allows you to change level settings, such as making it use custom characters for runners and enemies, use custom items, change its background visuals, and change which background music track it will use.

Custom characters are just player-created avatars made of voxels. You cannot give them new special abilities or anything like that. Custom items are also made of voxels. Normal items come in two types, regular gold pieces and special ones. You can only place one special gold piece in your level, and it looks like a regular gold piece but with a nice glowing ray effect to highlight it. The special one is meant to be an extra puzzle of sorts. If you collect a regular piece of gold before getting the special gold piece, then the special gold piece will turn into a regular piece of gold. This means the special gold piece has to be the first one you collect in the level if you want to earn its score bonus, which is 24k points I believe. The gold piece with an S on it in the editor screenshot above is one of these special items. Getting the score bonus from these special gold pieces is necessary to earn some stars in the main game modes.

Lode Runner: Legacy | Level editor.

The level editor.

While the default model for regular items is the gold pieces shown in the level above, custom items can be anything you want to make. You can also hide gold pieces in bricks, but unlike some past games, the hidden gold is guarded this time. When you reveal it by digging up the block that conceals it, a golden enemy in the hole you made will climb out of it after a second or two. When you trap him in a hole you dug, you have to collect the item he drops before he dies or it will disappear. Collecting one of these hidden gold pieces is worth an extra score bonus, too. It’s also worth noting that these hidden gold pieces have a different model from other gold pieces.

The editor lets you set a custom model separately for both regular gold pickups, and these hidden ones. The editor also limits you to placing only one of the hidden gold pieces in a level, which do not count toward the 60 gold limit per level. The hidden gold is optional and collecting it is not required to finish the level. It acts as an extra hidden goodie that can earn the player some more points if they find it. However, levels are not required to have a hidden gold piece in them.

Lode Runner: Legacy | The Character Editor.

The custom character editor for creating new player and enemy characters.

Characters and items have their own editor modes outside of the level editor. Once finished, you can upload your custom levels, characters, and items to Steam Workshop for others to enjoy. You have to go back to the main menu and enter the Data Management screen to upload your creations. People who subscribe to your custom items or characters can then use them in their own custom levels, too. The image above shows the custom character editor.

When creating a custom character, there are five body parts listed across the bottom of the screen. You sculpt them individually since they are already animated for you. The body is highlighted above since that’s the body part selected for editing. There are a few character types too. The default is the normal humanoid character, but there are also crawlers. Crawlers simply crawl around platforms in a circular path (including across the vertical sides and bottom of the platform). You left click to place voxels and middle click to remove them. You have a large color palette to choose colors from and some editing options above that. You can see in the image above that I have created the famous character, Link, from The Legend of Zelda. There are five animated preview images on the left of the screen, too.

Lode Runner: Legacy | Using custom items in your levels.

Using a custom gold item in the level editor (a gold piece from the NES Lode Runner game downloaded from Steam Workshop).

The gameplay in Lode Runner: Legacy can range from casual to frantic depending on the level. The controls and rules are both simple, but create a fun experience. The game also has full controller support if you don’t like playing on your keyboard. You can run left and right, climb ladders and hand-over-hand bars, as well as blast away the bricks to the right or left of your feet. There is no jumping, which makes dodging the bad guys a little trickier since you can’t jump over them like Mario could if he were here. The difficulty can also range from easy to very hard depending on the level. The game has also already been patched a couple of times to fix a few minor bugs like a few achievements not working, etc. It’s always good when the developers are watching and listening to players in the forums when they report bugs like this.

Lode Runner: Legacy | A custom level I made.

A custom level I made with my custom Link character in it.

The music adds a great retro mood to the game and fits in very well with the retro-style visuals. The sound effects are simple, but they get the job done well, furthering the retro vibe (along with satisfying visual effects like blocks exploding into a bunch of tiny voxels when you break them).

A single level can take you from one minute to a half hour or more to complete depending on its size and difficulty. You can blow through Adventure Mode somewhat quickly, unless you’re going for the stars. Puzzle Mode is a bit slower paced, and Classic Mode is much bigger and more challenging overall since this mode contains the levels from the original Lode Runner game. If you just play the main Adventure Mode, you could beat it in a few days to a week or more depending on if you go for the stars. If you go for all stars in Puzzle and Classic Modes as well, then the game will last you much longer (and then there’s still player-made levels, too). I’ve played around 20 hours so far for this review and I’m nowhere close to beating all of the levels or getting all of the stars! So there is no shortage of play time here. Lode Runner: Legacy is available on Steam for $19.99. Do you have what it takes to collect all of the gold and earn all 900 stars in Lode Runner: Legacy, or will the baddies get you first?

Review Score

Review copy provided by publisher.

About Michael Fontanini

Michael is a veteran gamer in his late 30s, who grew up around video games, with fond memories of the oldies like the NES, SNES, and N64 among others. He loves Nintendo, but also plays a lot of games on his PC. Michael also enjoys going for walks/bike rides, loves animals, and enjoys thunderstorms (and science in general).

I love Nintendo but I also play a lot of game's on PC, many of which are on steam. My favorite Nintendo game's include Zelda, Metroid, and Smash Bros to name a few. On PC I love the Half-Life games, as well as most all of the Source Engine games just to name a few.