Run, Run, Run. Run, Run, Run… Away!
Psycho killer, what is that? It’s a little red bastard who, at every turn,
manages to destroy sequels. Ah yes, sequels; the god given right of any game
to have its memory defamed and its fans pissed the hell off. Well I’ll just
state this plainly, I AM PISSED OFF WITH THIS GAME!
entire world there are only three things over which I would become murderously
enraged, should their sequels stink. They are: Star Wars, Wing Commander,
and Lode Runner. I’ve been a Lode Runner fan since it originally
came out (in the prehistoric 80’s) and I played it on a dowdy old Macintosh
512K. Back then it simply did not get better than Lode Runner.
The gameplay was fast, strategic, nail biting, and in all ways kickass. There
were about 100 levels of thievery and fun. Hell, it was one of those games that
defined what PC Gaming would become. Lode Runner is sacred, it is the
seminal Virgin Mother Mary Convict of side-scrolling arcade games.
The basic premise was that you were some sort of thief who wanted gold. You
ran around picking up gold, evading cops (or Mad Monks), blasting open holes
in the ground, and dying quite a lot if you weren’t slick. It was cool.
Now enters Lode Runner 2. Good old Mother Mary in cell block 2D is not
the virgin she once was. I picture her wearing ragged black clothing, nineteen
facial rings, 3 different colors of hair for each eyebrow. Needle tracks broadcasting
their sticky redness. A Virginia slim in one hand, a bottle of whiskey in the
other. A drunk truck driver pulled up one day and took Scarlet O’Hara away to
Time’s Square, NYC.
Basically, Lode Runner 2 fails because it is attempting to make a side-scrolling
2D game into an isometric, fake 3D game. See, in LR2 the gaming world
is an isometric grid. This means that the four directions you have are North
West, North East, South West, and South East. This means that control in this
game has taken a terminal shit. Don’t believe my angry words? Just try using
the keypad 7,9,1,3 keys for the directions I just mentioned. Then try using
q,w,a,s for zapping the ground in those directions.
It’s insultingly awkward and it doesn’t leave many free keys to perform all
of the various other actions such as: let go, drop bomb, suicide, pick up/drop,
use, and cycle bombs. You just don’t have enough fingers to really control this
sucker effectively unless you really jinx around the controls long enough that
any interest you ever had in the game is gone. Then you play the game, and guess
what? You might have gotten an elusively comfortable control set up, but the
1: The control, even if you modify your keyboard or hands, is highly unresponsive.
It sometimes takes two taps of a directional key just to turn to face that direction.
At other times the slightest tap will have you bounding down the grid to an
unfortunate encounter with one of the “Mad Monks” (strange dudes dressed in
blue robes who for some reason are protecting vast gold deposits and will slice
you in half like a Jell-O pudding if they catch you).
Problem 2: False advertising. The punks who pushed this cheap dope lauded
it’s “3D-World” and “Dazzling 3D Graphics.” This game is about as 3-D as Crusader:
No Remorse. The entire game is in fixed viewpoint isometric 2D, not 3D,
not remotely. To add further insult, the 2D graphics are about as compelling
as those in Crusader, accepting of course that Crusader came out
in late ’95 and this is now late ’98.
Problem 3: Is this some cheap bloody Acid Trip? Yes folks, there is
no realism in what you see. All these island-like environments are suspended
above some sort of misty backdrop that clashes blatantly with the underground
environs of the recent Lode Runner Returns and Lode Runner Online
(both excellent remakes of the original, look them up and give them an obscene
To make it even worse there is only 1 good environment type: Jungle. The Jungle
is fairly attractive to look at and features creepy plants with really big human
eyes. The eyes don’t hurt, mind you – the designers wouldn’t have sprung for
something so interesting, and this is merely window dressing. The other environs
are bad Techno, bad contemporary construction yard, and really, really bad children’s
building blocks (Chutes and Ladders, anyone?).
Also, to kill off the gameplay, the designers included bombs. These bombs are
your other way of killing the Monks or a multiplayer opponent. They work just
like those bombs found in Bomberman, shooting
their flames in an easily avoided +. They suck – add another to the tally. So
does the multiplayer for that matter.
Is it any fun? No. Not remotely. And no, the included level editor just extends
the misery. It adds nothing to the value. Look, overall this game simply blows.
I cannot stress enough how much of a crime I think this game commits by its
mere presence. I love the original Lode Runner and its two faithful sequels
from way back in ’96. This is not Lode Runner. It is not fun. IT IS NO
CHILD OF MINE! LEAVE THIS HOUSE AT ONCE!