Lode Runner

by David J. Anderson, Ian Morrison, Roger Tissyman
Software Projects Ltd
Crash Issue 12, Jan 1985   page(s) 38,39

Producer: Software Projects
Memory Required: 48K
Retail Price: £5.95
Language: Machine code

You are a highly trained Galactic Commando deep in enemy territory. Power hungry leaders of the repressive Bungeling Empire have stolen a fortune in gold from the peace loving people, and you have just discovered their underground treasury. Your aim in life is to recover every single ingot.

So Software Projects describe this manic arcade game with over 150 different screens, and a customising facility for you to design your own screens and save them to tape.

In fact, what we have here is a mammoth 'Panic' style game where the traditional digging function is actually an important part of the overall strategy. The screens are made up of numerous variations on the theme of brick blocks, ladders and bars, with the gold stacked here and there, often in seemingly inaccessible places. The Bugeling agents swarm all over the place after you, with one disadvantage - they can't leap up large blocks - but then, neither can you. What you can do is dig holes for them to fall into, out of which they spring after a few seconds. You can dig holes to get at the inaccessible gold too, and the longest possible fall does not kill you off.

A nasty touch is that the holes heal themselves after a while, and as you can't jump out of them like the nasties, you get concretised in! This factor is important on screens where the gold is deeply buried under brick, as you can only dig a hole through a layer if there is more than one block missing on the layer above it. This means having to dig out several blocks length in order to have the room to dig downwards for three or four blocks. Meanwhile they are filling in above you and the nasties are leaping down on top of you.

Because of the huge number of screens, there are 75 on one side of the tape and 75 on the second side. Access to any playing screen is available - they don't expect you to wade through all of them to complete the game!


Control keys: user definable, preset are: Q/Z up/down, I/P left/right, N to dig holes
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Sinclair 2
Keyboard play: highly responsive
Use of colour: simple on the whole, but very good
Graphics: small, mean as hell and well animated
Sound: not much, but doesn't spoil the game
Skill levels: 1, but it seems to get more difficult as you go along
Lives: 4 to kick off with
Screens: 150
Special features: you can design your own screens via the editor and save them to tape

Lode Runner is evidence that you don't need mega graphics to make a great game, just a good idea. All of the graphics in this game are small, one character size, and don't have all sorts of decoration. But the game is great fun to play. It has a high strategic element in determining the best way to get the goodies and escape. I found it both playable and addictive. the men, although smooth, moved nicely, running, Jumping, climbing and swinging in two commando style. An edit and save facility is provided so you can invent your own situations when you are fed up with the 150 screens already there.

A game to be dismissed, is a proabable first thought on seeing Lode Runner, because the graphics look small and old fashioned. But don't be misled. A closer examination reveals that the one character-sized men are beautifully animated and extremely characterful as well. This is another of those 'modern' arcade oldies given a new lease of life with clever thinking, which piles incident on top of incident until a completely new game emerges from it. Its simple game in playing concept, but difficult and challenging in execution. Fun and highly addictive, especially with so many screens to play, Lode Runner is a great game. Get it?

First impressions of this game is that it is going to be a crummy platform game, because the size of the characters is tiny. One then realises that each individual character, though only 8 pixels high, is quite detailed and fairly well animated, quite neat indeed. Screen layout is big, to say the least, mind you, it is an assault course. Usage of the screen space is excellent. While playing the game, it becomes apparent that collecting gold ingots isn't as easy as it seems. A considerable amount of forward planning is needed, especially on the higher screens when there seem to be hundreds of storm troopers after you - amazing! There is something, I don't quite know what it is, that attracted me to this game and I think it will have a long lasting appeal. Whilst you progress through the many screens, a useful item (known as spare lives) is incremented with every screen you clear, so that on level 5 you have 9 lives, and I can assure you, you really do need 9 lives. A much more complex game than first meets the eye, but usually these are the types that attract people into buying them, because they will have such a long lasting appeal. Another original idea that uses some previously tested graphics, it platforms.

Use of Computer: 81%
Graphics: 68%
Playability: 83%
Getting Started: 84%
Addictive Qualities: 80%
Value For Money: 87%
Overall: 81%

Summary: General Rating: A very good game, with plenty of playability and addictive qualities.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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