1001 Video GamesLode Runner appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
Arcade versionThe original Lode Runner proved so popular a coin-op version was commissioned and appeared in 1984 housed in its own cabinet and complete with artwork.
BungelingsWhile they both spawned strings of sequels to lead series of their own, Lode Runner and Choplifter can be considered to share not just human sprite animation, but a "game world" along with Will Wright's Raid on Bungeling Bay. All three games (all published by Brøderbund) ultimately featured the militaristic denizens of the Bungeling Empire as the primary antagonists.
- Lode Runner was being ported to the Atari Lynx but was abandoned while in a fairly advanced state.
- An Amiga version is mentioned in the French manual, ported by Loriciels' Annecy studio, but beyond that, no information of an official Amiga port exists.
- A Dragon 32 port is advertised as "coming soon" in an ad in C&VG magazine. Presumably, it was cancelled at a late stage, since programmer Roy Coates, who converted Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy for Software Projects, later came out with Beanstalker on his own label.
CompetitionOne of the biggest ever Lode Runner competitions took place during Japan's World Fair in August 1985. Gameplay was shown on a massive Sony Jumbotron (then the world's largest television at 80x150 feet). Over 3,000 people entered from across Japan and only 50 were selected to try their luck at achieving the highest score within three minutes. 12 year old Yasutaka Fujii was proclaimed the winner.
DevelopmentThe development started in 1980 on Commodore PET with ASCII graphics. In 1981 the Doug Smith joined the University of Washington which had VAX computers in their lab, so he continued development there (together with James Steinbeck). When they decided to make it a commercial project, they used Smith's nephew as playtester. Because of his nagging, Smith ported to the game to Apple II; the platform it was eventually released first. Then Smith changed the name to Miner and bought off Steinbeck who could not afford the time for project anymore.
After a rejection by Brøderbund, he continued working on the game on his own money. He especially worked on refining the graphics and the controls. Then he offered it to four companies, Electronic Arts, Epyx, Sirius Software, and Brøderbund. Brøderbund offered him $10,000 and 23% of future profits and he actually rejected an offer of $100,000 without royalties.
When Brøderbund bought the game they demanded that it contain 150 levels. The creative solution Smith came up with was to give the kids in his neighbourhood the level designer, promising to pay each kid who make a good level. One of them was Daron Stinnett, the executive producer of several LucasArts games including Dark Forces and Outlaws.
MessageStrings found in the game code:
If the original MASTER disk fails to run, return it to Broderbund for replacement. COPIES WILL NOT WORK.
Thanks for the run. See ya' next time.
Version differencesLode Runner was enhanced for the Apple Macintosh (and packaged as such). It remains the only 16-bit version of the first game and has possibly the highest resolution at 512x342 pixels on a crisp monochrome display. This version also features added mouse support for in-game configuration within windows, pull-down menus, pop-up dialogue boxes, and level creation. The game itself is played using the keyboard.
- Computer Gaming World
- November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #80 on the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
- Game Informer
- August 2001 (Issue #100) - #52 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll