My first gaming system was an Apple ][+ back in the early 80’s, which seems weird to think about today since I’m mostly a console gamer now. But back then while everyone else was complaining about the poor port of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, I was enjoying a near arcade perfect version on my old Apple PC. Some of my other favorites included Aquatron and Spare Change. Another one I played quite a bit was Lode Runner. Now you can enjoy the classic Lode Runner game on various iOS devices and smartphones (game played on iPad here).
In Lode Runner, the object is to collect all the gold in each stage. Run up ladders, shimmy across ropes, and jump down to platforms below to collect it all. You’ll also have to avoid enemies roving the levels. You can drill through blocks and fall through them to make an escape, or trap enemies in the holes you’ve drilled. Just don’t get trapped yourself! If an enemy picks up one of your gold pieces, you’ll have to trap them in a drilled hole to get them to drop it so you can retrieve it.
The graphics in this version of Lode Runner look just like on my old Apple PC, but they’ve made a few enhancements. You can go through levels one by one in Expedition Mode, or try to finish completed levels as fast as you can in Time Attack. There are also in-game achievements to unlock, and a slew of options for you to toggle with. You can select the speed of the game, turn off background music, and even edit the colors of the objects in the game. Want your hero to be sickly yellow and drill through pink blocks? Well now you can!
The only problem I had with the game is the play control. You move and drill by tapping a D-pad and buttons on the touch screen, but this doesn’t always feel as responsive as a good old joystick. I know it can’t be helped considering the devices this is played on, but it was still hard for me to get used to. Plus, while I appreciated the big buttons, they crowd up two thirds of the screen, leaving a tiny space to view the playfield. Other than that, though, this is certainly a classic keeper.
I played this as a kid and loved it, and now yours can, too. Hardly any reading skill is required, and because of the rudimentary graphics, violence is minimal to nonexistent. If your man gets touched by an enemy or trapped in a wall, he just dissipates, as do the enemies. But everyone just comes right back for more. Some kids may get frustrated by the difficulty or controls, though.