Puzzle Mode is 100 per cent geared towards to either being one of the most rewarding videogame experiences to date or one of the most mind-bendingly frustrating things you could ever hope to do with your Xbox 360's wireless controller. You'll either love it or despise it. The 50 levels on offer here provide some outrageous moments of befuddlement, forehead-slapping and God-like ego head-swelling, but approach it with caution; it may just end up being your mental undoing.
Finally, single-player gives you the chance to play levels you've made yourself using the full-blown editor - which is not something that should be approached lightly unless you've already got a good grasp on general level editing. A community feature lets you share your levels with your chums over Xbox Live, and in return you can snag theirs. Mix it up a little by playing online with other players on hundreds of user-generated creations, or, if you're like me, don't bother.
Lode Runner's not just a game for the bachelors out there. No sir. The multiplayer modes are significant, but during testing it was impossible to find anyone else that wanted to play online. Not too sure if that's a blow for my own competency, or a bit of a statement about the current levels of Lode Runner's UK-based penetration, but either way I had no online joy. Luckily, Xbox Live's denizens didn't stop me from roasting a few good hours locally with a likeminded Lode Runner or two, so it all balanced out in the end.
For the most part, the multiplayer modes are the same with one noticeable exception: Last Man Mode. Here you and up to three others have to run for your lives from the same-coloured monsters that are chasing you. If you lose a set of rounds in a row, you'll actually be turned into an enemy and given the chance to hunt down the lucky sonfabitch who's winning. Last Man is Lode Runner's party piece, and is probably best enjoyed with a few single malts in the company of good friends. That, or a couple of 12 year-old knob-ends on Xbox Live. I'll take whatever I can get, honestly. Multiplayer's other charms include specific co-op Journey and Puzzle Modes, the latter of which requires a surprising amount of coordination and forward-thinking on the behalf of both players.
Lode Runner on Xbox Live Arcade proves once again that the critical acclaim drawn by Smith's 1983 classic is warranted. The reboot is an excellent example of how old-school gameplay can be brought to life on today's hardware. And if you're the sort of gamer who enjoys a solid workout for both hands and brain (who isn't?) then this is well worth the investment. On the flipside, if you are a bit slow, or hate puzzles, or get frustrated easily (who doesn't?) then you'd do well to demo Lode Runner before plunging into your MS Points cache. Who knows? Maybe we'll meet up online in Lode Runner's tumbleweed-filled lobbies...