Lode Runner: The Legend Returns was a 1994 puzzle game by Presage for the PC. It was one of the free games we got with our old Macintosh computer. This was our first computer with a color monitor, and Lode Runner really took advantage of it. The graphics were so colorful and vibrant. Even more, I only had a regular Nintendo console at the time. The graphics in Lode Runner were super crisp and clear compared to that old video game console.
I think Lode Runner had around one hundred levels with several different “worlds”. Each world had its own theme with unique graphics. I remember there being a forest/jungle theme, an ice theme, and an industrial theme, but I’m sure there were more. The difficulty progression in the game was perfect. The levels started out fairly easy but slowly got more difficult. Some levels would take me a few tries to finally get, but I never got so stuck that I had to look up an answer. Actually, when we got this game, we didn’t even have internet access. I would have been totally stuck if I couldn’t figure out a level on my own.
I loved all the new mechanics that were introduced as the levels progressed. All of these were tools of some sort that were required to complete the levels. Some of them were equipment that the lode runner could carry with him, such as a jackhammer to break through hard rock or a rope to swing between ledges. Others were stationary, such as “teleporters” that would transport the lode runner between two places on the map.
On top of all this, Lode Runner included a level editor. Players could create almost any level they wanted. It took a lot of testing to make a good level though. It was pretty easy to make one that was impossible to finish. Once a good level was made, the level file could be copied onto disk to give to a friend. Later, there were websites that hosted levels created by other players. Newer games have more robust player creation tools, but the level editor in Lode Runner was top-notch for its time.
I really had a blast playing this game. These days I’m trying to find more games like this. Puzzle games are one of the few genres that fit within all my requirements for which games I can play. I’m moving away from the online-only games that require me to login every day. I want the ability to pause at any time and pay one price upfront for full access to the game.