MANY years ago when I first got my Atari 800 and 810 disc drive I bought a game from America called Lode Runner. At the time it was a disc-only game, and I used to make my tape deck-owning friends go green with envy every time I played it.
For me it is one of Broderbund's greatest games and now it has been released on ROM cartridge everybody can play it.
The storyline involves your exploits as a highly trained Galactic Commando charged with returning a vast hoard of gold stolen by the power-hungry leaders of the repressive Bungeling Empire.
You have just discovered the enemy's secret subterranean catacombs and you must make your way into them and recover the gold. It is stored in several locations ranging from the pockets of the guards who chase you to lying on the floor or buried in the walls.
You will have to dig your way into the walls to get at it – but be careful, it's very easy to entomb yourself.
You have been equipped with a laser drill pistol that allows you to dig holes in the floor in which to trap the guards.
When they fall in they drop any gold they are carrying, allowing you to collect it. But be very careful, if you fall down your own hole they'll get you or cover you with earth.
Once you have collected all the gold from a particular level you will hear a short tune and a ladder will appear leading to the top of the screen. Climb up it to the next level.
The best part of the game is that you can create your own screens. This means the only restriction to the playability is your own imagination – the more you keep designing the longer the game goes on. If you want to keep your newly-created levels you must have a disc drive attached containing a blank, newly formatted disc.
Even if you don't fancy designing your own screens the 150 levels which the game features will keep you occupied for a very long time. The packaging says there are only 75 but someone has miscounted.
Your lode runner can be controlled by a joystick in port one or by the keyboard. I found the latter offers more control when you're in a tight situation. To change this option press CONTROL+L at any time.
When you start the game you are given five lives but if you press CONTROL+F, it will increment this number to a maximum of 255 which is more than enough.
You can also alter the speed of the game by pressing the cursor left or right keys.
CONTROL+A will sacrifice a life if you are trapped, CONTROL+D will toggle which direction your drill works when you press fire and CONTROL+R will end a current game. If you press CONTROL+U, it will advance you one game level.
The handiest feature can be accessed at the main title screen by pressing SELECT. This will move you into the Play Level select option where you can move the joystick up or down to play any of the 150 screens.
The graphics and sound effects are average and the game's strength lies in its playability. Never have I been as addicted to a game as I was with Lode Runner.
Addictiveness, playability and the option to design your own screens make it a winner in my books. If you like a challenge buy Lode Runner, you won't be disappointed.
Value for money: 9/10