|Min OS X: 10.5|
Do you remember that old Mac classic Lode Runner? The one where you run around blasting holes in the ground, grabbing gems, and avoiding the mad monks? Richie the Gnome: Treasure Hunter from Adore Games is at least a little like that. It's a 2D action game where you can only do two things: dig and run. The question is, can a game based solely on those two mechanics remain interesting for any length of time?
Not in this case. In the case of Lode Runner, the AI was a little unpredictable, the levels were designed around a lot of mind-bending levels, and there were quite a few things you could do beyond simply running and digging. Richie, on the other hand, doesn't appear to provide much beyond the simple mechanics. The enemies all run directly at you, or a mushroom close to them, and they're extremely bad at cornering you. As an example of this, if you dig a single hole, they fall in and eventually climb out. If you dig a hole two squares wide, they run back and forth until it fills in and they die. Given that they know how to climb, that seems rather silly.
The levels are also pretty easy to handle. If you take your time and bury all the enemies running your way, it's extremely easy to get the treasure chests. However, the game doesn't allow you to get a gold trophy unless you stick around and hunt mushrooms. That gets boring. After a certain part, it's just not worth the effort. Due to the fact that they come at semi-random intervals and locations, it's more about standing still and digging holes around the usual mushroom spots. Monsters drop in, monsters die, you grab mushrooms as they arrive. It isn't hard, just tedious.The game does look reasonably good, however. It's nothing that special, but the animations flow together well, the tiles are pretty clean, and the particle effect for when you're high on shrooms works quite well. The backgrounds are a little plain, but there is a good variety in tilesets. It'd just be nice if there were more moving parts to look at.
The sound and music hit a similar note. The sound effects were minimalistic, but hit all the required impacts, noises, and simple tones. There weren't many things in the game to make noise, however, so it's at least understandable why there weren't that many sounds in total. The music was, unfortunately, not very fulfilling. The tunes are pretty short, so they get old quick. In this case, it's best if you turn the sound down to nothing and play your own music.
In the end, there's not much more to say. The game isn't particularly difficult, the levels look and sound ok but not great, and there's limited gameplay variety. Still, at $7, it may end up being worth the price. It does last for a few hours, and it'll at least remind you why Lode Runner is still as awesome today as it used to be. For now, at least, it'll take care of your mad monk burying urges.
• Easy to learn
• Brings back some Lode Runner nostalgia
• Gets boring quickly
• Sound and music lacks variety
Franklin Pride is a game development graduate and professional programmer/consultant for the Unity development engine. He's currently working on completing his first two computer games (The Farming Game, Uncle Fred's Deep Space Security) while consulting on the side.