Slick gameplay makes up for a disappointing lack of challange
The quality of Christmas cracker toys is in a downward spiral. Last year I won a cheap plastic comb, while my brother's pack of cards had no spades in it. Do you remember years ago, you might win one of those tilting ball-mazes where a steady hand and patience were key to success? Well, replace the steel ball-bearing with a rotund treasure hunting archaeologist, drop back to two dimensions and you have the basic idea behind this charming puzzler. Though Dr. Diggabone's adventure doesn't require too much patience, quick reflexes should be enough to see you through his 75 level adventure.
In Lazy Raiders you control the game world rather than your character. You can rotate levels 360 degrees and watch as the chubby treasure-hunter become gravity's plaything, tumbling around and collecting treasures on contact. Press the A button and the world flips 180 degrees, allowing you to accurately aim Diggabone at treasures, keys & switches. This is the lazy style in which he carries out his raids, though you can also choose your equally lackadaisical Microsoft Avatar for the job.
The initial training levels will help you grasp the basic mechanics, but like any good puzzle game, the formula is modified several times throughout the game. The goal of every level is reaching the golden pickaxe which appears once you've collected enough gems and idols. When it appears you can end the level right then or continue collecting treasure for leader-board glory. Like any decent video-game tomb, treasure is often hidden behind doors which require you to reach colour-coded keys. Hazards come in the form of spike-pits, rolling boulders and explosive crates among others. As some items also fall under the influence of gravity, the trick is to try use these to disable traps, giving Diggabone clear passage. Snow boulders will soften a dangerous spike pit while navigating a TNT box toward a flame-thrower will blow open locked doors.
You play across Aztec, Arctic and Wild West themed tombs, each with their own unique mechanic thrown into the mix. After every five levels the game adds thieves to the equation; devilish looking chaps who collect keys and treasure just as well as Diggabone. Though touching them will harm your fat friend, what's worse is accidentally guiding them to the end-game treasure. Levels, though often re-branded across the three themes, are well designed and are key to keeping the action entertaining.
Death in Lazy Raiders results in a points penalty if your struck twice in a row. The game continues as normal, but the points deducted can inhibit you unlocking the illusive 75th level. For this reason Lazy Raiders can seem easier than it should be. If you're not interested in unlocking the final level, you could easily burn through each level dying multiple times without hesitation. However the satisfaction of figuring out and executing a level perfectly is its own reward. Scores are measured in dollars, and on top of the treasure collecting, cash can be made by disabling hazards and killing thieves. This gives you several ways to accrue enough cash to gain a gold rating.
Controlling Diggabone's world feels fluid as he tumbles and slides hilariously through each level. Presentation is polished too, with colourful visuals, quick loading times and a catchy soundtrack typical of the genre. However it's a pretty slim package with no multiplayer or alternative modes in sight. At 800 Microsoft Points, Lazy Raiders' value for money is very much dependant on how much of a completionist you are. In any case, the imaginative level design and silly gameplay makes Lazy Raiders enjoyable from start to finish. If it makes any difference, a cheesy treasure-hunter outfit for your Avatar is thrown into the deal with an extra hat available on completion. Now that's something you won't find in a Christmas cracker.