Gaming App Of The Day: Lode Runner Is Still Kicking My Arse

I first played Douglas Smith's classic platformer, Lode Runner, on an Apple II computer in 1983. I wasn't very good, but then I was also only 10.

Nearly three decades later Tozai Games has released Lode Runner Classic for Windows Phone 7, with versions coming soon for iOS and Android. The simply running and digging gameplay has aged incredibly well. Me? Not so much.

Lode Runner is a relatively simple game. You control a stick man that must traverse a maze-like level, collecting all the gold before moving on to the next. Stick enemies are trying to stop you, and the only weapon at your disposal is a digging tool capable of removing sections of the ground, briefly trapping your enemies. These pits fill in gradually, so it's possible to kill your stick enemies if you time it right, but they'll just respawn somewhere else and continue their relentless pursuit.

For such a primitive title, the enemies are intelligent and relentless, their combined pathing granting the illusion that they are coordinating their efforts to bring you down. As you progress through the game the enemies become more unpredictable; they aren't simply trying to get you as efficiently as possible. They have an agenda, and figuring out why they act as they do is key to making your way through latter levels.

It's actually rather impressive, the amount of tension built by these ancient stick men nipping at your heels. These days big name developers spend millions on visuals and programming creature behaviours, when these little bastards are making my heart beat a mile a minute.

Lode Runner Classic delivers 150 levels of classic gameplay, playable in both Expedition and Time Attack, providing hours of old school goodness. What it doesn't deliver, sadly, is a level editor -- the original game was one of the first to do so. You can change the colours at least.

Thirty years down the road I feel I've developed a much deeper appreciation for Lode Runner than I had as a child. This seemingly simple title is actually a rather complex mechanism crafted specifically to hand me my arse. I've not gotten any better at it, but at least now I understand my failure is a result of brilliant programming.

Lode Runner Classic ($3.49) [Windows Phone Store]


    Too cool. Hurry up Android version. LOVED this game on my trusty Apple IIC. Shame about the lack of editor though.

    Nice, can't wait - I played this to death on the humble C64, and have been looking for an official version to become available on a tablet platform.

    Played it on a C64.

    I had it on Gameboy as a kid on a weird chinese compilation cart someone left behind at the motel we owned. Hated it because it was so damn hard. Thankfully 52 in 1 (more like 11...) also had Dr Mario, Tetris, Battle City and Alleyway to keep me distracted. Also a weird game called Mario 3. But it wasn't wario.. It was weird...

    Hated it thirty odd years ago. Hate it now. Micro (pixel perfect) jumping - getting chased pile of crap. AAAARGGHHH but thats because I had no skill and most joysticks sucked. Pitfall and Monty mole were more my style.

      Jumping???? Sure you have the right game?

      And you hate pixel perfect jumping/falling/dodging (whatever you want to call it) but like playing Pitfall.

      Me no understand.

    I can customize the colour of my runner? holy shit that's ground breaking

    GF has this on her laptop, she can beat it blindfolded. I think the XBL version is actually harder but a bit more fun.

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