Lode Runner (by Douglas E. Smith) has been available on many different platforms over the years. The game was originally developed in Fortran on a VAX 1 owned by the University of Washington. While under development the game was disguised as a program called "graph" which when executed would request a function. Unless the user entered the correct password the program would crash. Eventually the password became common knowledge among the students and often nearly all of the users on the system would be running the program.

When it was completed the game was rechristened "Kong". Eventually Doug rewrote the game in 6502 Assembly on an Apple II+ he borrowed from a friend (this time renaming it "Miner"). In 1983 the game was picked up by Brøderbund and Doug dropped out of school to work on it full time. Although Brøderbund is now owned by Mattel Interactive, Mr. Smith still owns the rights to Lode Runner.

Sequels include:

The Broderbund game Lode Runner was great for several reasons:
  • it had 150 different levels!
  • you could create your very own levels — make 'em easy just for fun, make 'em tough and drive your friends crazy!
  • it was the first game I knew of to use keys other than a, z, and the left and right arrows for control*
    (Lode Runner used the keys j and l for left and right, i and k for up and down)
  • between levels or lives you got a cool circular transition effect — although truth be told, sometimes you sat there saying "come on, come on, hurry up!"
  • you could dig through bricks to carve your own escape path
  • you could climb ladders, speed hand-over-hand across horizontal poles, fall outrageous spans that would kill mere mortals, dig through brick, run across ladders placed side by side — why, you didn't even miss the lack of a "jump" command.
  • monks could pick up your gold, hiding it from your view; the only way you would know was that you couldn't actually leave the level until you got all of the gold. If there was no gold on the screen and you couldn't leave, then you'd say to yourself
    "Heh heh, ooooookay... I see the game you guys are playing. Alright, which one of you guys has my gold?!"
    * Note: after much use and/or abuse, the "right arrow" key on our Apple ][+ was a bit hinky; to make it work you had to press it down hard and kind of grind it around. This made the key pretty much useless for games since the bad guys in games were never that understanding or patient.

yerricde informs me that on the NES version the monks were "bombermen".

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