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Load Runner was a very popular computer game back in the 1980's. Hudson Soft remade it and ported it for the NES back in the early days of the console and now Nintendo has released it on the Wii Virtual Console as well. Does this simple action puzzle game hold up over twenty years later? Yeah, it kind of does.
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You are Load Runner. The little pixelly man with a dangerous obsession with gold. That's right, it's that shiny mineral that keeps you coming back for more. Hence the title Load Runner. He runs loads of gold he finds (steals) from a mine or where ever he is (is that even legal?). Your arch nemesis is Bomberman sans bombs. Okay, they are probably just the same model of robot as Bomberman sent to protect the gold or something, it's not really clear. Bomberman became human when he got out of the robot factory, after all.
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There are three points to this game, collect the gold, avoid the robots, make it to the next level. Since Load Runner is an action based puzzle game, this isn't always easy. The robots that are after you will always follow you around. The only way to stop them is by digging holes in the ground so they can fall into them and be momentarily delayed. In fact, that is the only thing you really can do in Load Runner besides walk and climb ladders. The 1 and 2 buttons on the Wiimote control digging holes on the left and right respectively while the d-pad moves him around.
After you have collected all of the gold (which the robots also drop at times. Why are they carrying piles of the stuff?) you have to find the exit in order to make it to the next level.
There are lots of ladders to climb and bars you can crawl on (the robots can too so be careful!) and in the later levels you may have to dig to get the gold.
One of the challenging things about the gameplay is the holes you dig will automatically fill up in a few seconds. If there was a trapped robot in it (whose heads you can walk across without repercussions) they will either get free or disappear and re-spawn at the top of the screen. There is no way to permanently disable them. Also, the levels are so long that you can't see the whole screen at one time and may accidentally walk right into a robot while scrolling over. If the robot touches you, you lose a life (typical).
There is a two player mode in which players compete for a high score (only one player gets to play at a time), but it's not that exciting.
One of the most innovative things about Load Runner at the time of its release was the ability to create your own levels. However, it is pretty limited in what you can do (you can really only create half a level) and you can only save one on the Wii.
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Graphics and Sound
Load Runner is an early NES game and the graphics are really reminiscent of Bomberman (no wonder, they are both Hudson Soft games). The backgrounds are black, the bricks and floor are brown and the gold is well, gold. There is nothing really exciting going on, but nor is it terrible. It's not like a game this simple needs stellar graphics anyway.
Sound-wise Load Runner is rather forgettable. I know Hudson Soft could have good music back then (Bomberman), but the sound in this game is disappointing at best.
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While I didn't enjoy Load Runner as much as I do Bomberman, BurgerTime or Solomon's Key, it is still a fun action puzzle game. If you like any of the aforementioned games you will probably have fun with Load Runner too. But be warned this is no platformer, and it can be challenging in the later levels. But isn't that what puzzle games are for?
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If you are a fan of NES era action puzzlers or just want to try them out, Load Runner will keep you busy for a while. However, at 500 Wii points it is a bit expensive. There are other Load Runner games available for the Wii Virtual Console. For just 100 points more you can buy Battle Load Runner which has a much better level building mode. The choice is yours.