In 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.
Stewart 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.
There 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:
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.