Matt Chat 16: Lode Runner, single-screen platform excitement & user-generated content

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Here it is, Matt Chat #16: Lode Runner. In the review I talk about the game's impact, precedents, and even some of its contemporaries.

Please excuse the "Frogs" thumbnail; I still haven't mastered the YouTube thumbnail service and this time, none of the rest were of Lode Runner either. Also, I ran out of time before getting to mention some other important platformer games, including Pitfall and Ultimate Wizard. Those 10 minutes blaze by like nobody's business.

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Rob Daviau
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Matt Barton wrote: Please
Matt Barton wrote:

Please excuse the "Frogs" thumbnail; I still haven't mastered the YouTube thumbnail service and this time, none of the rest were of Lode Runner either. Also, I ran out of time before getting to mention some other important platformer games, including Pitfall and Ultimate Wizard. Those 10 minutes blaze by like nobody's business.

Under you username select VIDEOS, in the list of your videos click the EDIT button. On this page you will find the option to choose among 3 thumbnails, click the one you want be FYI it will take a while until it is updated................
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Oldschool games, some people just don't "get it"...

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Matt Barton
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That's the thing,

That's the thing, though...None of the available shots are of anything important. Just me talking, this one, and the pic of Doug Smith.

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Rowdy Rob
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Did justice to the Lode Runner phenomenon

Not too much time to comment, but a lot of things to say.

Commentary wise, yet another good performance. Matt seems to be able to do no wrong with the commentary portion, no matter what gaming subject he's tackling. In this case, you (Matt) really got it right about why the game was a hit. The idea of 150 levels (!!!!) back then was mind blowing, not to mention the fact that the game gave you the power to create your own levels. These bullet-points would have been moot if the gameplay itself wasn't engaging and addictive, but it was. I spent many a wasted night playing both official and friend-created levels, and many more wasted nights creating my own levels for my friends to waste their nights playing!

I like the heavier reliance on cutaways in the recent Matt Chats, particularly this one. I liked seeing the cutaways of Pinball Construction Set and Space/Apple Panic. Very appropriate, and it compliments the commentary excellently. It was also great to see clips of other ports of LR, including the Atari and Commodore versions.

I'm not sure of the relevance of "Frogs," though. Perhaps I missed that connection in the commentary. Still, seeing all the cutaways of people, articles, and games really adds pizazz to the Matt Chats, and is quite fun. And seeing a clip of "Jumpman" was quite cool, because it's another of my all-time favorites.

While I knew that, in theory, Space Panic had similar game mechanics to Lode Runner, seeing it actually demonstrated onscreen really hit home about how scarily close some of the play mechanics of Lode Runner are, and seeing this might shock a lot of Lode Runner fanatics. Now Lode Runner took it to the next level (is that a pun??), but the Space/Apple Panic video clip is undeniable proof that LR didn't just spring into existence from a vacuum, conceptually.

The "Bungeling Empire" was a frequent nemesis in Broderbund games, featured in Lode Runner, Choplifter, Raid on Bungeling Bay," and possibly others.

You really butchered the pronunciation of "Shigeru Miyamoto." LOL :-) No biggie, though.

Overall, you did a great job giving props to this classic game: Lode Runner, one of my all-time favs.

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Matt Barton
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Rowdy Rob wrote:

Commentary wise, yet another good performance. Matt seems to be able to do no wrong with the commentary portion, no matter what gaming subject he's tackling. In this case, you (Matt) really got it right about why the game was a hit. The idea of 150 levels (!!!!) back then was mind blowing, not to mention the fact that the game gave you the power to create your own levels. These bullet-points would have been moot if the gameplay itself wasn't engaging and addictive, but it was. I spent many a wasted night playing both official and friend-created levels, and many more wasted nights creating my own levels for my friends to waste their nights playing!

That seems to be the pattern. Shane over at MWF said something similar. It sounds like great fun, making levels and sharing them with each other. I'm sure I would have had a blast! Sure, you can make your own levels and areas in many of the newer games, but I can't imagine it being as easy as Lode Runner's construction set.

Quote:

I like the heavier reliance on cutaways in the recent Matt Chats, particularly this one. I liked seeing the cutaways of Pinball Construction Set and
Space/Apple Panic. Very appropriate, and it compliments the commentary excellently. It was also great to see clips of other ports of LR, including the Atari and Commodore versions.

I do, too, though I need to plan ahead more. I kept thinking of new games I wanted to put in, but there just wasn't time. Kinda sucks that I wasn't able to squeeze in Pitfall! and a few others. Still, there's a diminishing returns thing here. You can only cram so much stuff into 10 minutes and expect any kind of coherent or in-depth commentary. My original plan was to show four different versions of LR at the same time, but then thought it might be better just to show the different levels on different platforms one at a time.

One bad thing about the clips is that it's killing my computer and the Vegas software. The program crashed about four times during rendering, forcing me to start over. I was actually done around 4 p.m., but due to all the crashes and restarts, didn't get the rendering done until after 9 p.m. Just ridiculous--all that for a lousy ten minutes. I must have some deep flaws in my setup somewhere.

Quote:

I'm not sure of the relevance of "Frogs," though. Perhaps I missed that connection in the commentary. Still, seeing all the cutaways of people, articles, and games really adds pizazz to the Matt Chats, and is quite fun. And seeing a clip of "Jumpman" was quite cool, because it's another of my all-time favorites.

It's cited as the first platform game, which I know is a bit of a stretch.

Quote:

While I knew that, in theory, Space Panic had similar game mechanics to Lode Runner, seeing it actually demonstrated onscreen really hit home about how scarily close some of the play mechanics of Lode Runner are, and seeing this might shock a lot of Lode Runner fanatics. Now Lode Runner took it to the next level (is that a pun??), but the Space/Apple Panic video clip is undeniable proof that LR didn't just spring into existence from a vacuum, conceptually.

Yeah, a lot of these guys copied each other. There was lots of shameless cloning. I know what you mean, though, it's a bit of a downer to realize that a game you thought was highly original ends up being basically plagiarized. That happened with me and "Elite." It's still special, but it was essentially just a combination of older games. What's really telling is when certain accidental details are copied, such as that digging action in Space Panic. Definitely not a coincidence there. Still, it doesn't bother me when that kind of thing happens as long as there is innovation and not just a downright copy. Lode Runner is different enough from SP to please me. Apple Panic is a blatant rip off.

Quote:

The "Bungeling Empire" was a frequent nemesis in Broderbund games, featured in Lode Runner, Choplifter, Raid on Bungeling Bay," and possibly others.

Ha! That's great.

Quote:

You really butchered the pronunciation of "Shigeru Miyamoto." LOL :-) No biggie, though.

Yeah, a phonetic would help with that one. :)

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Bill Loguidice
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Frogs, Frog Bog, Frogs and Flies, Frog Feast (it's Frog mania!)

1978's Frogs is a stretch as the first platformer - the only real mechanic is the jumping. I'd still say 1981's Space Panic, even without the jumping is definitely the first platformer in the traditionally defined sense. With that said, it's important to mention Frogs for having one of the earliest jumping mechanics. In fact, it would make a nice bonus image for the Super Mario Bros. chapter.

Mattel's Frog Bog, and Frogs and Flies, both 1982, are unofficial conversions of Frogs, and Frog Feast is a modern day attempt at a "universal" videogame, with homebrew versions for an impressively wide range of classic and newer platforms: http://frogfeast.rastersoft.net/ (it's more a direct "port" of Mattel's game)

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Hammer
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Another great Matt Chat

Just to share my personal experience - I had Lode Runner on my Atari 800XL back in the day and used to play it constantly. I beat all 150 levels. Every time you beat a level you get an extra life, which helps. The fade in/fade out animation reminded me that there was a function key to skip it - there were a bunch of other function keys defined in the manual and even cheat keys just defined in the manual (not like today).

Later I also had the game for my Commodore. I liked the Atari version better just because I was more used to it - the visuals in all versions are pretty much the same (except what the treasures look like), but the sound effects are very different, and to me, the true sounds will always be the Atari sounds.

Sadly, I was never that creative of a guy to make more than 1 or 2 levels with the level editor. But my brother really enjoyed making them. He made about 20-30 really good levels, and I would try to beat them. It was like a little competition between the two of us : )

Keep the Matt Chats coming!

Matt Barton
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I'm wondering -- I didn't

I'm wondering -- I didn't investigate the matter too closely, but it appears that only the IBM and Apple II versions had the ability to dig without turning around (the two button configuration). Is that true? I wasn't sure since I didn't have the manuals for all the different versions. It does have a noticeable effect on the gameplay, though.

I thought the transitions between levels was really neat, and it's nice that they had it on all the ports. I like it when games make a big deal out of completing a level, like the fun dance in Forbidden Forest and the musical interludes in Jumpman. It's those little touches that make a game worth playing.

Thanks, all, for your positive comments! I know it's a pain to have to login and type up a message, but it sure does make my day when you do.

BTW, I'm stuck at 99 subscribers. Who will be the 100th? :)

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Rowdy Rob
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Apple two-button control in Lode Runner.
Matt Barton wrote:

I'm wondering -- I didn't investigate the matter too closely, but it appears that only the IBM and Apple II versions had the ability to dig without turning around (the two button configuration). Is that true? I wasn't sure since I didn't have the manuals for all the different versions. It does have a noticeable effect on the gameplay, though.

I can't swear by it, but I think the Atari version had the ability too via keyboard control. The problem was that the standard of the day for the Atari was a one-button joystick, unlike the two-button Apple joystick standard, so I played the Atari version with the digging handicap like probably everyone else. In this sense, it wasn't as good as the Apple II version, and often made the game quite frustrating.

Matt Barton wrote:

Thanks, all, for your positive comments! I know it's a pain to have to login and type up a message, but it sure does make my day when you do.

Pain to login and type a message? It's actually a pain for me to shut up and NOT respond to every thread here on AA. It's especially hard not to comment on stuff like new videos and such!

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Chris Kennedy
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Subscribe...
Matt Barton wrote:

BTW, I'm stuck at 99 subscribers. Who will be the 100th? :)

Me!

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Matt Barton
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Congratulations!
Chris Kennedy wrote:
Matt Barton wrote:

BTW, I'm stuck at 99 subscribers. Who will be the 100th? :)

Me!

Thanks, Chris! Now I have officially crossed that 100 subs threshold. :)

I'm still trying to decide about my next chat. For whatever reason, the one I did on PLATO was far more popular than anything else, getting about 3x the number of views of anything else. I didn't really do anything special to advertise or promote it, so I'm guessing there was just something about the title that attracted people. I'm wondering if I might want to abandon the focus on particular games altogether and just start focusing on platforms or genres. Just not much you can really do in ten minutes on a platform, though, and I'm loathe to have something broken up into a bunch of different segments. I guess I could do a gloss of a platform and show its best or most definitive games, but I'm still thinking I'd be at too huge of a disadvantage not having the original hardware. That didn't seem to make a difference with PLATO, though, so maybe folks are okay with emulated shots and photos from the web.

What do you guys think? Which of these would sound more interesting to you:

Matt Chat #17: Mattel's Intellivision
Matt Chat #17: Ultima VII: The Black Gate
Matt Chat #17: Pinball Videogames

I just offered those up as an example of the kind of stuff I could see doing. I actually prefer the current format, simply because it lets me focus more and not be all over the place trying to cover 4 hours of content in 10 minutes. Still, I would love to be getting those huge spikes each week.

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