► SECTION I • INFO ◄
◣ GAME FACTS
🎮 Game: Level Up
💪 Difficulty: N/A
⏲️ Time: 1 Hour
🧑 Capacity: 2-6 Players (Per Website)
🏘️ Location: Various Internationally
◣ FORMAT SPECS
🕹️ Format: Print & Play Puzzle Game
✂️ Tools: Color Printer, Papers, Scissors
💻 Platform: Web Browser, Facebook Account/Messenger
📰 Media Used: Print Media, Text, Images, Audio, (Videos)
► SECTION II • ANALYSIS ◄
◣ THE PREMISE
When you discover a mysterious old console from the 1980s in the attic, a dangerous computer virus hiding in the software starts to escape. Through a combination of printed puzzles and online hacking, can you play your way through the retro levels and shut the console down before the virus gets out? It's your job to hack into the mainframe, attack the computer virus and Level Up!
• • • • •
◣ THE FEATURE
While a certain other virus ravage the outside world as we know it, why not play "Level Up" safely at home and rid of this video game virus instead?
Ahhh, the 1980s. A decade of video gaming that would soon be defined and dominated by from industrial giants like Nintendo and Sega.
I am no expert on the matter, so I did a quick research: it turns out that though this print & play puzzle game features an image of a video game console looking suspiciously similar to the SNES, the SNES did not debut until the 90s. However, other obvious in-game homage, like "Cube Calamity" and the computer virus representation (inspired by "Q*bert" and "Space Invaders", respectively), rose to the popularity in the late 70s and early 80s.
Ok, so we're sorta taking an average and lumping a couple of things together, but the theme is clear--retro! All aboard the nostalgia train!
A DANGEROUS GAME TO PLAY
Ahh, a neglected video game console from the attic, an artifact from the once famous, but now defunct Seiyako Technologies. You power up the system, and hey, it works! A game comes up on the screen, "Virus Detected". What a weird name for a title, you thought...
...WAIT A MINUTE.
It was at this moment, you knew, you [messed] up. THIS VIRUS'S GONE LOOSE!
A little bit of a Jumanji situation on hand, but thankfully, the video game "Genie" soon appears, informing you to revert disaster, simply initiate the shut down sequence by playing all video game levels. Play to save the day--if only all heroic acts are this fun.
A fitting and precise approach that emulates the actual "procedure" of beating a video game, the overall play structure makes good sense and is easy to comprehend.
VISUALS FOR DAYS
One can easily tell that an ample amount of hard work has gone into the design of this print and play PDF file. In the 11-page document, every single sheet was visually impressive.
The meticulously chosen graphics and fonts authentically portray a 1980 arcade machine interface. Those who grew up in this era will easily detect pictorial reference to classic video game elements, from specific vintage title "Asteroids" to the more general side-scrolling genre. Various mock title logos add yet another layer of retro-charm.
And the colors! Oh my! The first level, "Cube Calamity", features all the hues of a rainbow, and is very exhilarating to look at. Other levels, though a bit more muted by comparison, employ logical but still vibrant colors choices, making "Level Up" an optical treat from start to finish.
(ALMOST NO) PRINT & PLAY
Alas, the very reason why this game looks so awesome also held me back from completing it for the longest time! Under the impression that I MUST print certain pages in colors, and not having access to a color printer, I thought I was out of luck... Game Over for me!
But I was wrong. You absolutely do NOT need to print anything in colors. A black and white print job would suffice, given that you periodically refer back to the full color version when puzzle solving demands so.
In fact, alternatively, virtually all puzzles given can be solved by digitally manipulating screenshots in Paint instead. So not only isn't color printing mandatory, printing itself is also somewhat optional! With this new method in mind, the only thing I (arguably) absolutely needed to print out was only the spaceship origami!
At first glance, the game seemingly would take no time at all to complete, due to its having only 3 main levels. In reality, each game level requires multiple steps to conquer, and goes much beyond than expectations. You got me there, Seiyako!
Early puzzles are creative variations of cipher decoding, neatly involving ASCII and binary. While both tie slickly back to a computer related premise, they are not especially challenging or outstanding. I did, however, appreciate a quick refresher on certain nautical terms.
Thankfully, latter parts of the experience feature more uncommon and unique challenges that I found strangely satisfying, with one featuring the very annoying sound of a dial-up modem, no less. A blast (to my eardrums) from the past, indeed.
The overall style of having the players bouncing from printed materials (or the PDF document) and various online resources was a fairly expected routine, though I give huge props for the creators for whipping up more eye candies that are (fictional) Seiyako webpages. Again, being visually stunning really is a strong point from Escape Hunt.
Lastly, a Facebook messenger interaction is required for 100% game completion, and while I actually liked and welcomed the immersion created by this particular modality, I did find it quite odd for a company that was shut down in 1987 to actively maintain a Facebook account, a social media platform launched 17 whole years later.
But to debate about this in the same universe in which a software virus escaped into the real world, on multiple occasions even, is a moot point.
◣ FINAL THOUGHTS
Though the puzzles of "Level Up" were not excessively difficult that even younger kids can confidently tackle, the chief subject of retrospective video gaming seems to aim more at older kids at heart, tugging at their heartstrings and evoking happier, simpler times. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall under, this pleasantly entertaining option is worth your consideration.
Just push the START button when ready.
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⤻ Though game access was complimentary, this article was written basing on unbiased and genuine opinions.
⤻ All media credited to and used with permission from contents owners. No copyright infringement intended.
⤻ Level Up • "EHLevel"