The timing could have been a bit better for this as the far superior Battle Lode Runner for the TurboGrafx became available on the Virtual Console only two months ago. Is there a reason to bother with the NES original when for just 100 more points you could be enjoying better graphics, music and a whole host of new gameplay options? As this game is a big of an old classic we might as well try to give it a fair hearing; here goes!
For those not in the know, our pal Lode is a greedy sort. He loves nothing more than collecting gold wherever he goes. Sadly he hasn’t acquired the much-needed ability to jump, so we’re reliant on his excellent digging abilities to find our way around. Things couldn’t be much simpler; one button lets you dig to your left, the other to your right. Digging the land below you allows you to access parts of the maze beneath, or cleverly create a hole for your adversaries to get trapped in! If you so much as touch a bad guy then its curtains for you, so you’ll need to keep on your toes at all times.
The gameplay is as basic as it comes. You just avoid the enemies, collect all the gold and use the ladder to get to the next stage – simple! It’s all good fun for a while, but like many games of this era it could use some extra game modes to spice things up. So we end up coming back full circle to the superior Battle Lode Runner gloating over its NES counterpart safe in the knowledge that its five player battle mode makes it streets ahead of the competition.
There is a two player mode in the NES version, but it is not simultaneous. You take turns to challenge each other for the high score. There is also a mode which allows you to creates your own stages which is a nice touch, but predictably the TurboGrafx version outshines in this department as well.
It’s hard to knock this game too hard because there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the gameplay on offer. Our recommendation would be to skip this and get Battle Lode Runner instead; only the most hardened NES gamer should be nostalgic enough to invest in this version.