William Rieder describes his creation Bananoid quite fittingly as a ‘wall-block-paddle-pill game’ with which he wanted to demonstrate that MCGA graphics work on DOS machines. And that is exactly what you get, nothing more and nothing less: A nice looking Breakout clone – or as the name already implies rather one of Arkanoid. To some this might be actual proof that back in the late 80ies the capabilities of PC graphics were underused and underestimated (most DOS games of that era where still stuck in EGA or even CGA mode), to others it plays like one of the hardest games of its kind.
To me, retro has always been associated to fun. The Youtube video made by the guys who created this gem was fun. They are not trying to impress with wastefully expensive animation played on a 100+Hz screen and orchestra sounds booming from the speakers.
The guys from the Netherlands stick to the basics. Using only the Basic language, they invite us for a gaming trip on the good old C64. The title screen surprises the spoiled player with its basic cleanliness. A short introduction explains the game and the controls completely without graphical knick-knack. The colour scheme based on earthy tones prepares the enthusiast for what is coming and – a quick tap on the space key – you dive right in.
In the Early Days™, computer games were still very much influenced by arcade games. Half of that is true for Lode Runner. The gameplay concerns a small figure running across platforms which are connected through ladders. It is collecting treasures while avoiding contact with the bad guys (the Bungelings). This sort of thing would work very well in an arcade environment.
What distinguishes this game from most others at the time is its size: There are so many levels, it just goes on and on and on and on. This is something which was commonly achieved at the time by looping the game around, i.e. simply repeating the already finished levels on a higher speed setting, for example. This game is different: The levels are all hand-made and very few people will ever have seen them all!