is a series of puzzle platform games where you control a man trying to collect gold and then escape the stage. Each level has a handful of enemy Mooks
trying to prevent the player from collecting the gold by picking it up themselves, but they can be trapped (and forced to drop any gold they are carrying) by holes burned in the levels' brick floors.
The original game, released for the Apple II
in 1983 by Brøderbundnote
, consisted of 150 levels and was one of the first games to include a Level Editor
; various sequels were released in the 1980s and 1990s by such diverse companies as HudsonSoft, Bandai, and Sierra Online (paradoxically, though the original game was developed by American Douglas E. Smith, the Lode Runner
series saw more games released in Japan
than in the United States).
Tropes in Lode Runner
- All There in the Manual: Lode Runner: The Legend Returns came with a manual which, among other things, named the lode runner (Jake Peril), also named the second lode runner for two-player mode (Wes Reckless), and identified the enemies in the game as mad monks.
- Ascended Glitch: The enemies have an odd artificial intelligence. These quirks have to be exploited in Championship Lode Runner.
- Buried Alive: One of the ways for player or enemies to get killed is to get buried inside regenerating bricks.
- Lode Runner: The Legend Returns takes this trope even further by having the lode runner scream in agony as he is crushed to death.
- Collision Damage: Touching the enemies from the side or having them land on the player's head means instant death.
- Cranium Ride: It's possible to stand on the enemies, and in some levels it is necessary to access platforms that are otherwise unreachable (the enemy mooks move more slowly than the player, even when falling, so the player can stand on their heads and walk off as they pass a platform).
- Endless Game: In some ports of the original Lode Runner, the levels eventually begin repeating themselves (for example, the Commodore 64 cartridge version only has seventeen distinct level layouts), but with faster enemy mooks.
- Every 10,000 Points: Or every level in this case; completing a level nets the player an extra life. You'll need these for the later levels.
- Fake Platform: In some of the games, some of the brick blocks can be fallen through and oftentimes they look exactly like normal brick blocks.
- Jump Physics: Averted. The player cannot jump except by falling off a ladder.
- Level Editor: The original Apple II Lode Runner from 1983 had one of the first custom level editors, contributing to the game's popularity. Most ports retained this feature, although in contrast to the Famicom port, the NES port did not allow the player to save custom level data.
- Nintendo Hard: It's very easy to die in these games. In NES Lode Runner, even the first level takes practice. Championship Lode Runner is much more difficult due to level designs and requiring to know the enemy AI perfectly.
- Press X to Die: Nearly all of the games literally have a suicide button (necessary, since there are certain situations that can render a level unwinnable).
- Respawning Enemies: Enemies respawn after getting killed. In some levels, this must be exploited by causing the enemies to respawn near gold piles that are otherwise unreachable by the player.
- Shout Out: The bricks and ladders in many levels are arranged to spell various messages. Although the significance of some messages is obvious (for example, gaps in the ladders in Level 44 of the original game spell out "LODE RUNNER"), others are subtle shoutouts by the creators to friends and organisations. For example, Level 56 in the original game has bricks laid out to form the letters "UW", a reference to Lode Runner creator Douglas E. Smith's alma mater, the University of Washington.
- Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Large gold piles in this series are very common.