Gotta' get the scrilla to make those Retirement Home payments.
Welcome to the 21st Century. The Tyrell Corporation has made a bunch of androids called "replicants." Highly dangerous and murderous, these replicants have blended in among us. You play a member of an elite police squad that's out to execute… I mean retire those replicants. The goal is to put them all in an old folks home so they won't bother us no more. Your name is Deckard and… oh wait, I'm talking about Blade Runner. My bad. Lode Runner 3D is nothing like that.
Lode Runner 3D is, in fact, an update to the classic Lode Runner game that came out in the 80s. Basically, you're just a gold diggin' fool out for some money grubbin' fun. You run through labyrinths filled with monks. Those monks aren't too keen on you taking their samolleians. To fight the onslaught of Monks, you have the mighty ability to DIG HOLES! Good thing the monks aren't very bright, because they usually fall into your holes. Hurrah. Now you can dance a merry jig on their heads.
The main character is the "The Lode Runner." No name, just "The Lode Runner." I wonder what went into the design of this little dude. Hard and fruity… the Jolly Rancher of video game characters. It isn't a big deal, though. There's no real story: just grab your cheddar and run away, you greedy little bastard you.
The game isn't even true 3-D. The Lode Runner runs along tracks, so this isn't a free world environment. Though you can move in all three planes, you're confined to the path. This is true to the old style of Lode Runner: run along platforms, up and down stairs, dig a hole. Lode Runner 3D manages to translate the feel of the original really well, so it's good for a dose of nostalgia.
The driving force behind the original and the N64 update was and has always been figuring out the puzzles. For every level, there is a "best method" solution you must figure out through trial and error. Success comes from knowing the layout of the level, mastering the timing, and predicting the movements of the enemies. Problem is, knowing the layout of the level requires being able to see as much of it as possible. That means having to play as a teeny-tiny little character.
While efforts were made to make the camera system work, it still isn't very fun when you can barely make out the 7-pixel Lode Runner from a distance. Before you start, you can move the camera around to take in and analyze the level. There is also a free camera mode, but it's pretty useless. When you manipulate that free camera, the enemies are still "free" to attack you. Timing is too important to take the time to adjust the camera. And when you do zoom in, you can see how blurry some of the polygons are.
There are many levels, but they eventually get really repetitive. The enemies remain the same, while only the backgrounds and environments change. To add more variety, different devices were placed in each world. Most of the devices are similar to each other, but they make things slightly more interesting… sort of. And there's LOAD TIME! C'mon people-- this is a cartridge!
As a thinker's game it can be fun. The puzzles are hard and challenging, but in long doses the game gets old fast. It's only good for about ten minutes, to try and figure out the stage you're stuck on. InfoGrames brings the the retro-gamer back to his good ol' Commodore 64, but to the newer gamer, Lode Runner 3D just feels dated. Sadly, it ended up being yet another rushed-through-development, generic N64 game.