Lode Runner - 7/31/84
Lode Runner is one of those games with simple concepts that become very difficult very quickly. A few basic types of terrain and one type of enemy add up to death after death after death. Your abilities are simple. You can climb ladders, shimmy across ropes, drop from ropes, and dig holes to your left and to your right. It is not possible to dig directly beneath your feet, beneath a ladder, or on the solid blocks. Digging holes is your only defense and offense. Your enemies will charge for you, even if there's a hole in the way. They will fall in, and drop any gold they may be carrying. They crawl out after a moment or so, unless the hole closes up on them. Your enemies chase after you and pick up gold. The gold is your goal. Once every piece of gold is collected, the exit to the level will appear. There is a level select built in to make up for the lack of passwords. One major flaw keeps this game from action-puzzle goodness - the distance of the edge of the screen from your character. In the accompanying screenshot, the player character is moving to the right. Only about a fifth of the screen is in front of you! When your character can't jump, nor can he dig if an enemy is already on a square, the enemies come upon you far too quickly. The game is still playable, but this does add a lot of artificial difficulty. There have been several versions of this game throughout the years, including three more coming up on the Famicom. In fact, the release date for Championship Lode Runner is less than a year away... With the hope that there is a better implementation of this interesting design coming up for the Famicom/NES - Not Recommended.