Lode Runner was originally released in 1983 for the Apple II computer, where its combination of frenetic activity and puzzling gameplay made it an instant classic. You can play the original online — it looks something like this:
Lode Runner has always been one of my favorite games and one that I return to in any year and medium. I drop quarters to play the coin-op at FunSpot every year, and courtesy the Wii's Virtual Console, I have the Nintendo version of Lode Runner — though that game's limited resolution requires the screen to pan to see everything, limiting its effectiveness. There's even an iPhone version called Gold Runner, reviewed in the March issue of Juiced.GS.
I've been waiting for the Xbox sequel for awhile, as evidenced by my blog post last August, when I counted it among my reasons to buy an Xbox 360. My desire formed well before that — a year ago this month — when Xbox Live's Major Nelson interviewed Ross Erickson, who detailed the lengthy legal path to finding out who owned the rights to Lode Runner. This week's podcast interviews Brett Ballow of Tozai Games, the company responsible for Lode Runner. (You can follow Tozai Games on Twitter — but only nine followers? Following zero people? That's not effective networking.)
Lode Runner costs 1200 Microsoft Points, which is the equivalent of $15, the high end of XBLA games. I hope it's worth it, as the above gameplay video. The lack of background music combined with the somewhat confusing graphics (I can't quite tell where the player can go and where he can't) might not represent the final product. I'm also hoping the Xbox version is somewhat frantic, as I'm used to playing Lode Runner at a slightly accelerated pace.
I'm delighted when Apple II games inspire today's greats, but I'm overjoyed when they are resurrected, heart and soul, in a form that any geezer can recognize.