In the summer of 82, in a lonely computer lab at the University of Washington, Doug Smith sat mostly alone. It was Doug's job to man the computer lab incase anyone decided to use it, but summer was not the computer lab's busiest time. So to keep himself occupied, Doug decided to write a computer game with his copious free time. In that lonely computer lab over the summer Lode Runner was created.
Lode Runner's success can not be understated. Lode Runner was originally made for almost every possible system: Apple II, Commodore 64, VIC-20, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, NES, DOS and more, and later re-releases have found themselves on most systems since then. Chances are if you've been playing computer games for any length of time, you've played Lode Runner at one point. In its original run Lode Runner sold millions of copies. Not bad for a game that started as a summer project.
In Lode Runner you play the part of a treasure collecting hero with a burrowing laser. The object is the same on each of the 150 screens: collect all the treasure and escape to the highest ladder with your life. Yes, that's right, 150 levels of brick digging action. Each level requires planning and technique to beat. You can fall harmlessly through holes dug with your laser, but your enemies will be temporarily trapped and drop any treasure they are carrying if they are lured in.
While trapped in a hole you can safely walk over the heads of trapped enemies, but don't wait to long or they'll climb out and get you. In a short time dug holes will fill back in which means instant death for whoever is still inside. Occasionally you will need to dig a row of holes to give yourself room to dig another row so that you can get treasure that is buried several layers deep. Occasionally blocks that you see are not actually there and you'll find yourself falling through blocks at sometimes inopportune but occasionally lifesaving moments.
Pay attention to the levels you play. The boards were sometimes designed not so much with game play challenge in mind but ascetics. It's amusing at times while desperately dodging the enemies to stop and say, "Wait, the ladders on this level spell 'Lode Runner'!" (Level 44)
Perhaps the key to Lode Runner's success, however, was that it was one of the first mod-able games. Okay, not really mod-able, but it did come with a level editor allowing budding game developers make their own levels and share them with friends, as if the original 150 weren't enough. To use the level editor you'll need a disk to save your levels on, which if you're using DOSBox will mean familiarizing yourself with the disk mounting commands. So popular was Lode Runner's level creating feature that it prompted a follow up "Championship Lode Runner" the very next year (unfortunately no DOS version known) with only 50 levels, but the most challenging Lode Runner levels designed.
If this all seems too challenging, fear not. Lode Runner lets you modify the number of lives and even lets you skip levels. Doing so you will not get your name on the high score list, but at least you aren't restricted to the straight forward play thought, always wondering what level 106 looks like, because you can't get past level 15.
This game could best be called fast and furious puzzle solving. It's simple to learn, a challenge to master, and still has a lot to offer after you're done playing.
3 versions of Lode Runner are in this archive. The difference between V1 and V2, I don't know, but the one in lrslow is designed to play on faster computers. If you have a slower computer or throttle down DOSBox V2 works fine. If not, stick with patched version.
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