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Enjoyably old-fashioned platformer
Classic arcade games like the original Mario Bros (check out the Mario VGA remake), Donkey Kong and, more obviously, Lode Runner, are the clear inspirations behind this neat, if unoriginal, little platformer. At first glance, the game is highly straightforward but appearances can be deceptive and if the time is taken to explore Gold Runner, then it becomes apparent that there is actually some pretty clever design work going on here and which makes it a game worth investigating for retro fans. The objective of the game is simple: guide your little avatar through a series of 2D levels, jumping, climbing, avoiding guards and of course collecting gold. The addition of the ability to dig holes for the guards to fall into is quite nifty and adds a nice touch to what is pretty familiar stuff. There really isn't much else to the game, but it manages to transcend its inspirations through the sheer fact of its playability and the clever design. While visually fairly unimpressive, with simple stick characters and blocky backgrounds which lack the appeal and personality of Mario or Bubble Bobble, the action is fast, furious and inventive. Gameplay requires quick reactions and some careful planning to avoid those pesky guards and it is undeniably fun to leap, climb and dig your way through the levels. This is helped by a fluid and responsive control system that gives a good sense of being in command at all times. Gold Runner starts out pretty easy, but the difficulty soon ramps up and later levels become maddeningly challenging and yet maintain their addictiveness. If you love old-school platformers then there is much to enjoy with Gold Runner and it provides plenty of retro entertainment.