May
23
2011
Lode Runner

Late at night, I would sit next to my older brother and watch him play Lode Runner on our Apple IIe. The room was dark except for the bluish glow cast by the monitor. The room was quiet except for the sharp, but hollow-sounding game noises and our whispering about strategy and barely stifled laughter as we kidded each other. We didn’t want to wake our parents.

Mike was nine years older than me and after he got his driver’s license, he went out every chance he got. With college classes, work and his social life, he was hardly ever home.

I missed him.

In the summer, when Mom wasn’t strict about my bedtime, I would stay up late into the night watching MTV and waiting up for Mike, hoping that he might feel like hanging out awhile when he got home. The hanging out often revolved around Lode Runner.

Lode Runner had 150 levels and started out easy, which was good since it took awhile to get used to the two-handed keyboard skills needed to play without a joystick. It took six different keys to control the white stick figure in his quest to gather all of the gold nuggets while avoiding the orange and white stick figures who guarded the gold. The stick figure could run, climb up and down ladders, go hand over hand across suspended bars, and dig holes in the two-dimensional blue brick to temporarily trap the guards and also to make them give up the gold they sometimes carried.

The levels got progressively more difficult and started to require more strategy. Luckily, we earned an additional man for each level we completed, so when we were stumped we could experiment with our backlog of men. In a time when computers couldn’t multitask, Lode Runner monopolized our computer for weeks. We’d leave the game on in between sessions, the white stick figure constantly blinking his readiness for one of us to press a button to start the next level.

Eventually we hit a level with gold that appeared impossible to retrieve. None of the tricks we’d learned in previous levels worked. Mike was obstinate and blew through a lot of men trying the same ideas over and over again without success. We were both getting frustrated. We were worried that we would lose all our men and have to start over.

Finally I had a new idea and though Mike thought it was crazy, he tried it. His timing was off and he ran the white stick figure right into a guard. He was pissed and muttered something colorful. But I convinced him to try again. I don’t remember how many attempts it took, but I remember how amazed and excited he was when it finally worked. My idea had finally solved the level we’d been stuck on for days.

I often came up with the creative solution necessary to complete a level and Mike was better at executing the plan, with the extra years of arcade practice under his belt. We were a team.

It was just a game, and a pretty simple one, but I finally felt like something more than a pesky baby sister. I would play Lode Runner by myself after these times with my brother, but it was never as much fun without him.

——-

This week’s RemembeRED prompt:
“We want you to recall the games you played when you were young…Write a piece that explores one of your memories.”

The videos I found on You Tube make me sick with longing to play this damn game again.
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11 Responses to “Lode Runner”

  1. Erin
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    Here’s my favorite video game that Molly and I played on Nintendo:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_Kid
    http://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=9570
    http://strategywiki.org/wiki/Sky_Kid

    We would make my mom go all the way to Reel Entertainment on the East Side to rent it. This was our favorite part:

    Cheer Girls dressed in blue dresses are a new addition to this version of Sky Kid. If you perform a loop over their head, four hearts will fly out from them. Collect them for a 1000 point bonus per heart collected after the battle report, as seen in the screenshot to the right.

    And, you could do a loop in front of the sun and it would change into the moon, or vice-versa. Mostly it was fun to be playing simultaneously.

    I never played Lode Runner. But I became a good typist early because the only game we had for our computer for a LONG time was MasterType.

    http://www.retrothing.com/2008/01/mastertype-qwer.html

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 12:22 am #

      My favorite part of the description of Sky Kid is having to avoid hot air balloons. I also learned from the Wikipedia page that this game is on Nintendo’s Virtual Console and thus can be played on the Wii. I haven’t explored this aspect of our Wii at all and that’s too bad b/c I just learned LODE RUNNER is available. I am very excited to check this out.

  2. Jennee
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    I never got into the video games thing and we didn’t get a nintendo until it wasn’t cool.

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

      I mostly had a few favorites, like Lode Runner, Tetris, the Nintendo Zelda games, etc… I could take or leave a lot of the others. I still think the original Nintendo was the best!

  3. Melissa (@melrut01)
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    Visiting from TRDC. Love this post. My brother is 11 years younger, and we would play Super Mario World on his Super NES until our thumbs fell off. Nothing like video games to bridge the age gap and bring two siblings closer.

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Melissa! My brother and I graduated to Nintendo games too. Our favorite was the Legend of Zelda.

  4. andygirl
    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    wonderfully told! I can’t relate at all as we were not allowed any kind of video games, but I was always in awe of my friends’ mastery of key strokes and strategy.

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

      Thanks! My best friend had Atari and I always wanted that but we never got it. Video games can be a huge time suck. My husband got all into Guitar Hero and then kind of thought better of it and started actual guitar lessons.

  5. Galit Breen
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    CLEVER! And I love that you added the visual in! The only video game I remember was on -ahem- Atari. PacMan, baby! :)

    • logyexpress
      Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

      I had a little mini PacMan game that looked like a tiny version of a big machine from the video arcade. There was a pattern that always worked, so I could play for hours, only stopping when I tired of it. Loved that game too!

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