Retro Jet Set Spectrum Pinball Emerges From Smiling Bag

titlescreenjpgIn the good old days, games were better.  They were simpler, but at the same time far more unforgiving.  They were shorter, but took far longer to load.  They were more creative, but far more limited in terms of experience.

There’s a particular type of gamer, normally those of a certain age, who will, given a chance, tell you why games from yore were better in every way, from the purity of the design to the controls.  Buy them a drink and you’ll be treated to an hour or so on the differences between the Kempstion Pro 3000 and the Competition Pro.

Alternatively, you could experience some of the delight and simple joy of those early days of gaming (without the 7-12 minute loading times) by playing I Am Level, the first release from Dundee-based indie game developer, Smiling Bag.

screen-shot-2013-09-03-at-22-08-19Stewart Hogarth, the developer behind Smiling Bag bills I Am Level as …a retro themed pinball / platform game mashup in the style of Jet Set Willy / Monty Mole.

Which captures the essence of the game perfectly.  The player takes control of a spherical main character – cross between a smiley face and a cheery skull.

Control is limited to tilting the level left or right, which causes the character to roll in the same direction and triggering a series of springs and flippers around the level, which let the player bounce and flip Mr Smiley Face up to higher level, rebound off walls, collect stars and reach the end of the screen.

screen-shot-2013-09-03-at-22-24-14There are a variety of spookily automata-like bad guys and enemies scattered around the levels, each proceeding about their own business, tracing their own route, ignoring the player and this massive ball battering around their territory.  As with all the best games, you touch the baddie, you’re dead.

We asked Stewart where the inspiration for I Am Level came from.  He told us:

…it occurred to me just how little control people have over their lives. This idea of a character just rolling along, being pushed, pulled and passed around by the things happening around them.
There was some mixed response from the Beta I did (With about 160 people involved). Some people loved it, others found it too tricky. I think it’s because it looks like a platform game, but it isn’t. Some people wanted to be able to have complete control over the character, allow it to jump anywhere etc… While I appreciate those concerns, if I did that, it would just be a platform game, same as all the others. The game isn’t perfect, but I’d rather fail trying to do something different than succeed in making something that’s been made a million times before. 
screen-shot-2013-09-03-at-22-10-16Stewart has released the game for Android and is promising an iOS version will follow in the very near future.  I Am Level is also now available to play online, through your favourite web browser, via the Kongregate website.
The Android version is free for a limited period.  More news on the iOS version as it happens.

I Am Level is an unashamedly nostalgic homage to the games of the home computer revolution, it’s the perfect mix of pinball and platform exploration.  The graphics and music recreate the experience of playing a game on a Spectrum or Commodore 64, but with a firm grasp and understanding of contemporary games and gamers.  Whether you were playing games in the 1980s or 90s, or not, we’d recommend I am Level to everyone looking for a fun, original and defiantly retro challenge.

Get it over on Kongregate, or on Google Play for your Android device.

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