Remembering the Lode Runner Series


I have to be completely honest, I hadn’t thought about the Lode Runner series for years until hearing about the unfortunate death of its creator, Douglas E. Smith, this past Friday.

I began to reminisce about the time I spent as a kid collecting gold and blowing up those creepy red monks on Sierra’s Lode Runner: The Legend Returns on my family’s Compaq Presario in the mid-90s. As a kid who wasn’t allowed to have video game consoles at the time, this puzzle-platformer is what I spent my Saturday mornings playing.


Fast forward a few years, and my parents had finally acquiesced and allowed my sister the privilege of a normal childhood by buying us a Nintendo 64. My love for the Lode Runner franchise had yet to fade, and I still remember calling my dad at work and asking him to check the various electronics stores on his way home to see if they had the newly released Lode Runner 3-D for our new console. I had to mow the lawn a few times to pay him back, but I felt it was entirely worth it.

It wasn’t long before I discovered likes of The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Perfect Dark, so the Lode Runner series quickly became just a cherished but ultimately minor part of my gaming history. However, when a modern interpretation of the game was released on the Xbox Live Arcade in 2009, I was surprisingly entranced by a series that I hadn’t paid a thought to in nearly a decade.

I think it’s important for us to recognize the ideas and concepts that pioneered this industry and pay tribute to their architects. While the Lode Runner series may not be as held in the same esteem as some of the era’s other genre-defining platformers, its importance to early PC gaming should not be forgotten.


I’d encourage all of you to take a few minutes and go play the seminal Apple II version of the game. You’d be surprised how well the simplified gameplay holds up today.

It’s always sad when a member of the retro gaming community passes away. As the time gap between this era of gaming and the modern day continues to grow, so will the losses of those who helped grow the industry into the monster it is now. Thankfully, the efforts made to preserve their creations allow their ideas to live on long after they have passed away.

I personally find great joy in being able to sustain a community devotion to this wonderful and unforgettable period in video games. Without discovering the Lode Runner game hidden away on our computer as a kid, maybe that passion never would have found me.

Thank you, Douglas E. Smith.

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