oldrunner: Aiming for pixel-perfect

I enjoy remakes for the console that do their best to stay close to the original. robohack was a good example of that; it’s not picture-perfect (and probably couldn’t ever be), but the author obviously took the time to do it right. I can appreciate that.

Same with oldrunner, Frederic Culot’s revision of the ancient Lode Runner video game into an ASCII format, staying faithful to the original levels.


That’s all the more impressive when you take into account an array of 150 maps. You’re not just getting the first eight or nine levels, and then the game goes off in its own direction. No, the web site suggests all 150 original levels are available in oldrunner.

Now I can’t necessarily vouch for that, since I don’t have the time or skills to push through each one and check it against the 1983 original. But I’m willing to take Frederic’s word for it.

oldrunner starts up to a level announcement screen, and when you’re ready, the map appears. Controls are via the IJKL keys, with the addition of S and D to dig holes to your left or right, respectively.

This is important to remember, because within a few seconds of the start of the first level, you’re going to be pinned down by guards. Digging a hole not only traps the guard, but allows you ways to escape.

That’s about the length and breadth of the game, except to say that oldrunner does a great job at play. The pace is fast and you’ll need to learn the controls quick if you’re going to survive even just the first level.

I ran into a few segmentation faults with oldrunner under Arch, curiously most often during level change screens. While the prompt says “press any key,” certain keys (the S most often, I think) caused a crash. I shall investigate further, and perhaps send a message to Frederic if I can find a trend.

My only other difficulty with oldrunner would be navigation, and that’s not really the game’s fault. The animation is fluid and generally without skips or hiccups, but for some reason it’s tough for me to navigate up ladders or to come to a halt and change direction.

I blame that on the player though. 😳 I think I can get used to it over time.

oldrunner is a great rendition of a 30-year-old classic, and while it may lack color, it definitely deserves the attention of players who can remember a different era of computer gaming.

The irony being, according to the Internet, the very first versions of the game were written as an ASCII chase game … and of course, the Internet is never wrong about these things. 😉

P.S.: Thanks to Ander again for linking to this one. Good tip!


4 thoughts on “oldrunner: Aiming for pixel-perfect

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      I suppose that’s good to know, in a way. Sometimes I worry that problems occur because of my system. Thanks for the note! 🙂

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