The bad thing about living in the present, is we don't live in the past. And the bad thing about not living in the past, is there are no forthcoming simplistic 8-bit games being released for our simple, but fun and charming, 8-bit consoles, which we can look forward to. They have all been released decades ago, and while times have moved on and kids today play advanced 3D shooters which take a year to complete, on advanced consoles with a billion bits, some of us still like to play our simple side scrollers from our past. That is what RetroCopy is for! But it would be fun if we could have some new games to look forward to as well. New games, done in a retro style to mimic the way games used to look.
Luckily, we do have new retro games to look forward to. There are people all over the world creating such games, both for modern computers, modern consoles, phones, and old consoles (which of course can also be played using an emulator, for instance RetroCopy). Some of these people are professional game developers, selling their games, while others are just fans, or people who make their games in their spare time and charge nothing for their games. What I find interesting, is I often find the "fan games" to be just as fun playing as the "professional games", often much more fun, as it's easy to see that the people who made them have put a lot more love and dedication into them, than professional game developers would do.
So, what I'd like to do here is write about some fan games done in a retro style, which I have very much enjoyed playing, and which I would highly recommend. As I mentioned, some fan games are made for old consoles, and could be played using RetroCopy, while some are for modern computers. Willy's World by Lionsoft, released in December, is one of them. Once you have started it, and pressed F4 to make it turn to full screen, it could just as well have been an old Sega Master System game though. It really looks like something which could have been released in the late 80s/early 90s for an 8-bit console.
Being a huge fan of the Sega Master System, I recognize lots of the graphics in the game, which are taken from various Master System games. I've played some of Lionsoft's previous games, so I know that the person(s) making these games (someone it Italy it seems) must be an SMS fan too, and this game shows a lot of love for old Sega games. The main character in the game (Willy) is of course taken from the game I wrote about in my last blog post - Teddy Boy, while the background of the title screen is from "Caste of Illusion". The entire game takes it's graphics from various Sega games, which perhaps is part of the reason why it feels so much like I'm playing an old Sega game while I'm playing this game. Even the music in the game is from old Sega games.
But it's not just the graphics and music I like. The gameplay is fun and simplistic, just like an old SMS game would be like. And being a fan of old 2D side scrollers, this is definitely my cup of tea. There is not much story involved, and in a game like this I feel that's not really necessary. You're Willy, and you're in a castle with 50 doors, each leading to a new level. You can't access them all at first, so you have to complete levels in order to get access to new doors. The goal of each of the 50 levels, is to get all 50 coins in the level, which is easier said than done. Some of the first levels are quite easy, but it won't take long before you get to quite challenging levels, which you'll most certainly have to do more than once in order to complete. One of them (I think it was level 43) I spent hours on, trying possibly several hundred times, before I was able to beat it. The feeling I got when finally beating it, after so many attempts, was just as good as the feeling I got when trying to beat a game as a kid. So this game really took me back to the past, and it really felt like I was playing a new Sega Master System game I had just bought.
With 50 levels this game is much longer than most Master System games used to be though, except of course the game the character Willy is taken from - Teddy Boy, which also had 50 levels. Those levels were much shorter than the levels here though, and if it wasn't enough Willy World had 50 levels, there are even some bonus levels at the end after you've finished all 50 levels, in which you play as Willy's dog. These bonus levels are more like a puzzle game, and could easily be a game of their own. And speaking of bonus levels, right now I'm playing a Christmas bonus level you get to play if you type in the word "snowflakes" at the title screen.
I had a really fun time playing this game, not just because it used old Sega graphics and music, but also because the level design in the game is very smart and gives the player lots of interesting challenges. Like I said earlier, games made by fans could be just as good as games sold by game companies which have spent a lot of money on them, and I think "Willy's World" is a great example of that. Try it, and see if you like it as well. And don't hesitate to share your own favourite fan games in the comment field below.