Lode Runner is the platform games equivalent of The Beatles’ Yesterday: it has had almost as many ‘covers’. Now MacSoft has taken the formula a step further with the first 3D version: Lode Runner 2.
In most respects, the ethos of the game is the same with the standard actions still being run, dig through bricks, climb ladders and fall. The major difference is in the movement with the programmers adopting a perspective style where the game’s character, Jake Peril, moves north-east, north-west, south-east and south-west on the compass rather than left, right, forward and back, an idea that works well. Additionally, Jake can now ‘scale’ – move hand-over-hand along ropes.
Play starts at the Jump Station from where you select one of the game’s five worlds. On completion of a level by solving the puzzles and collecting all the gold, the exit portal becomes active and transports you to the next level. Ultimately, on completion of all levels within a world, you find yourself back at the Jump Station ready for the next world. Each world has its own look – even the portals and gold have a different appearance.
All versions of Lode Runner have the bomb element but LR2 has 3D versions – six in all. These vary from simple x, y or z-axis straight-line blowouts through to the sphere, a deadly 27-square doozy. Leave Jake in the line of fire and he perishes in the same way as any bricks. LR2 also sports ten different power-ups, each of which provide Jake with a unique ability for a short period of time, and three kinds of triggers that alter aspects of the current level. With three different kinds of monks on the prowl (and instant death on contact), the old grey matter is in permanent use.
With a number of new features including multiplayer mode (either co-operative or deathmatch), a comprehensive set of tutorials and a level editor, LR2 will addict puzzle freaks instantly. However, it may leave the rest of us a little cold through its sheer difficulty at times. It’s a bit like chess – easy to get the hang of the moves but tough to do well. Check out the demo and decide for yourself.