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Video Game: Lode Runner

Lode Runner is a series of Puzzle Platformers in which you must collect every bag of gold before escaping a stage. Each level has a handful of enemy Mooks trying to protect the gold by picking it up themselves, but they can be trapped (and forced to drop what they're carrying) by pits you dig into the platforms.

The original game, released for the Apple ][ in 1983 by Broderbund, consisted of 150 levels and was one of the first games to include a Level Editor. Various sequels have been released ever since by such diverse companies as Sierra, Bandai, and Hudson Soft. (Although the game was created by American Douglas E. Smith, the series saw more games released in Japan than in the United States.)

Tropes in the Lode Runner series:

  • All There in the Manual: The Legend Returns came with a manual which, among other things, named the player characters as Jake Peril and Wes Reckless.
  • Ascended Glitch: The enemies have an odd artificial intelligence. These quirks have to be exploited in Championship Lode Runner.
  • Attract Mode: The original game showed gameplay from levels 12, 31, and 11.
  • Buried Alive: One of the ways for players or enemies to get killed is to get buried inside regenerating bricks. The Legend Returns even has the lode runner scream in agony as he is crushed to death.
  • Collision Damage: Touching 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).
  • Every 10,000 Points: Or every level in this case; completing a level nets the player an extra life.
  • The Face of the Sun: Some of the Wacky World levels in Lode Runner 2 had a sun which would usually look sort of confused, and occasionally would laugh strangely for no apparent reason.
  • Fake Platform: There are trap blocks that look like normal bricks, but can be fallen through (while remaining solid when approached from either side.)
  • Hard Mode Filler: 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.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: Lode Runner 2 has the default name of "Digmo."
  • Hub Level: The World Hub in Lode Runner 2.
  • Jump Physics: Averted. The player cannot jump, only fall.
  • Level Editor: The original Apple II version 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.
  • Logo Joke: Broderbund's "triple crown" logo provides the layout for Level 4.
  • 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 since you need to know the enemy AI perfectly.
  • Oddball in the Series: Lode Runner's Rescue was an isometric game similar to Crystal Castles, starring the lode runner's daughter (who could jump and swim, but not dig).
  • Power Pincers: Some of the cover art depicts robotic mooks whose only weapons are clamps for hands.
  • 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.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: Lode Runner II: The Bungeling Strikes Back.
  • Shared Universe: Lode Runner introduced the "Bungeling Empire", stock villains in several Broderbund games which may or may not share a timeline. Choplifter cast them as enemies of the US in a modern-day cold war, while the Lode Runner series had an interstellar Empire besieged by Galactic Commandos. Raid On Bungeling Bay implies the former setting in its manual and the latter on its box. (Later Lode Runner games went with a different Excuse Plot involving treasure hunters and "mad monks".)
  • Shout-Out: The bricks and ladders in many levels are arranged to spell messages. Some are obvious (for example, gaps in the ladders on Level 44 spell out "LODE RUNNER"), while others are subtle. For example, Level 56 has bricks that form the letters "UW", a reference to Douglas E. Smith's alma mater, the University of Washington.
  • Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Large gold piles in this series are very common.


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alternative title(s): Lode Runner
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