LEVEL 9 COMPUTING
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Level 9 was a British computer text adventure game company which produced some of the most advanced games of the 1980s. Founded in 1981 by Michael, Nicholas and Pete Austin, the company produced about 20 games for BBC Micro, Nascom, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Oric, Atari, Lynx 48k, RML 380Z, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Amiga, Apple II, Memotech MTX, and Enterprise until the commercial declining market of the text adventure genre forced their closure in June 1991.
Level 9 links
You can learn more about Level 9 at these sites:
For writing platform independent text adventures Level 9 developed their own interpretation language called 'A-code'. Thus, they were able to support a wide range of formerly well-known home computers because only the interpreter had to be ported to the target platform. Only limitations of the available memory required the reduction of text and graphics in some cases.
In 1996, Glen Summers began developing a free A-code interpreter that's capable of executing Level 9 games. After several years and with the help of contributors it is today able to read most versions of A-code and support all graphics formats that had been used.
Level9.Net, finally, is a port of the interpreter to Microsoft's .NET framework. Based on the interpreter core mentioned above it provides a wide range of configuration options for the visual aspects of Level 9 games and tools to support the gameplay.
- Supports line drawn and bitmap graphics
- Imitations of various 8-bit and 16-bit computer fonts
- Script recording and playback
- L9Cut frontend (L9Cut is a tool to extract Level 9 datafiles)
Level9.Net requires Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 or higher to run.
Download Level9.Net files
There are different ways to get Level 9 games running with the interpreter. For the older games without graphics or with line-drawn graphics a promising approach is to load a game in an emulator and create a memory snapshot (a function that most emulators provide.) These snaphots can be loaded directly into the interpreter because it searches for valid game and graphics data within a data file. To strip the bare game data from memory snapshots the tool L9Cut can be used.
Releases for newer platforms like the Atari ST, Amiga or IBM PC usually come in the shape of disk images or compressed archive files. There are tools to extract the game files from those images and in most cases they can be loaded directly into the interpreter. You can find a summary of the various game and graphics formats in the interpreter's help file.
The following sections provide a list of known Level 9 games. Beside the package blurb they contain screenshots of Level9.Net with individual configurations for the original platforms they ran on.
I have decided not to host any versions of the games here but there are many emulation sites who offer that service.
COLOSSAL ADVENTURE (1983)
Colossal Cavern is a name of power, whispered in dark corners, embodying incredible riches and untold danger. Sensible folk hold the cave to be a myth, the product of fevered imaginations - but every year a handful of people set out to find it, driven by necessity or by overwhelming greed.
Most return empty-handed with tales of fruitless wanderings, or stories about the dangers faced: volcanos, dragons, gigantic snakes and the like. But some have never returned and speculation holds that they are the successful ones who have found the cave and perished - or maybe used the enormous wealth from it to found great empires in far-off lands where they live in luxury.
Now it is your turn to venture into the cavern and play Colossal Adventure!
ADVENTURE QUEST (1983)
Middle Earth has long been a tranquil and peaceful place. The battles against the Dark Lord are ancient history, and no dragon has been seen since the sack of Esgaroth. Even the last elves sailed for the West centuries ago, after the rescue of their fellows from the dungeons below Colossal Cavern.
But disaster struck. A vast army of orcs swept down from the north, crushing all in their path, and they now besiege the last brave defenders in Minas Tirith. All seems hopeless. Then, to your amazement, you are summoned by the Wizards High Council.
"The orcs are servants of the Demon Lord, AGALIAREPT, who has taken up residence in the Dark Tower on the edge of the world. From safety he controls our enemies. Perhaps one brave hero, acting alone, could sneak into the tower and defeat him. I don't think you've a ghost of a chance, but the King insists we do something. Will you volunteer?"
Naturally you refuse. But no one listens. Good luck!
DUNGEON ADVENTURE (1983)
Jubilation reigns in Minas Tirith! At sunset yesterday the city was besieged by a sea of orcs and it seemed that the defenders were doomed. But at sunrise, the watch looked out over an empty plain - the attackers had fled when on the point of victory. The first reaction was stunned amazement, but gradually a rumour began to spread: "The Demon Lord is dead!"
A two week carnival was announced and the population proceeded to enjoy themselves as you would expect. But you were wiser. Clearly, with the Demon Lord out of the way, there would be rich pickings amongst the ruins of his fortress...
Now, eight days later, you stand on a sandbank beside a great river. North of you are the dungeons of the Demon Lord. You are cold and wet, but determined to brave the hidden dangers of the caves. But then a shiver runs down your spine: a brooding presence is watching. Perhaps the demon is still alive, and waiting for you.
You play Kim Kimberley, secret agent extraordinary.
Your mission: to safeguard the interstar transport, Snowball 9, as a last resort following catastrophic accident or sabotage.
Thus when your modified freezer-coffin wakes you with the Snowball still in transit, you know that something must be very wrong. You're weakened and disorientated from lengthy hibernation, but the fate of two million passengers is in your hands.
Meet the dumpy cleaning robot, find out what waldroid is, and (of course) dodge the infamous Nightingales which have proved so good at reviewercide!
LORDS OF TIME (1983)
Into the cauldron you must throw -
an olive branch, makes friendship grow.
A dragon's wing, a sign of flight,
An ivory tusk, a sign of might.
Mix in the teardrop, a touch of sadness,
and the evil eye, a sign of badness.
Add a dinosaur egg, a sign of birth,
with the jester's cap, a symbol of mirth,
plus the silicon chip, a vital invention,
and the golden buckle, a bone of contention.
If you do this, before time runs out,
a winner you'll be - there is no doubt.
But take care when you find the lords,
or you'll not gain your just rewards,
your quest will all have been in vain,
and you will have to start again.
RETURN TO EDEN (1984)
You play Kim Kimberley, secret agent. Escaping from false imprisonment aboard a colony starship, you are stranded in the alien jungle on Eden. Your hope is to reach the robot city of Enoch, said to be fighting a valiant war against the killer plants in this spectacular SF adventure.
You must cross the jungles on Eden, avoiding their many dangers and making use of the alien plants. Then through the defences of the robot city. And this is just the first half of the game...
Investigate the air bush, taste the fish fungus and find your roots. The alien corn is tricky, "Pepsy" Koala is mischievous and the least said about the little chef the better! But our favourite is "Graunch", the golem.
Return to Eden will amuse, entertain and bemuse - and you're doing well if you finish it in less than a month. Good Adventuring!
THE SAGA OF ERIK THE VIKING (1984)
Travel, as Erik the Viking, in search of the evil Dogfighters who have kidnapped your family. Explore authentic Viking settlements and seek help from Wizards, Dragons and Giants in strange lands. This exciting adventure game is fully illustrated with colourful graphics.
EMERALD ISLE (1985)
Emerald Isle lies in the Bermuda Triangle, hidden by fogs and treacherous waters and peopled by the remnants of a strange civilisation. This is a massive adventure and, if you read the gold label, you'll probably find this version has over 200 pictures!
You play the part of an aircraft pilot, employed to ferry urgent 'documents' around the Carribean. Fierce winds seize the plane over the Bermuda Triangle and hurl it to destruction; you escape by parachute at the last moment.
As you float down towards an island below, you recognise the coastline from an old map. It is the lonely atoll, "Emerald Isle", which few people visit and from which none return.
It is said that only one person may leave -- the ruler of the land -- and that each visitor is tested. Success promotes you to King or Queen, failure promotes you to the next life.
Explore peculiar towns, meet peculiar people, learn the peculiar purpose of the 'letters' and travel on a railway which is simplicity itself compared to BR's peculiar fare system. Don't be too afraid of the dark, and watch out for the spider!
RED MOON (1985)
The game, Red Moon, re-enacts a tale from the time where Magik still worked and when mythical monsters guarded fabulous treasure.
You have the use of many weapons and a dozen different magical spells to help you rescue the Red Moon Crystal, only source of Magik in the land.
WORM IN PARADISE (1985)
The Worm in Paradise concludes the Silicon Dream Trilogy, following the
award-winning Snowball and Return to Eden (though you don't need to have
played these). It's your last chance to give an arm and a leg for an
inflatable Kim Kimberley.
The robot megapolis of Enoch may be a paradise for the silent majority, but it's a real challenge for those with higher ambitions. Especially if, with your faithful Dagget wrapped round your leg, you intend to save the world.
THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE (1985)
I learned today that I am to be the subject of a computer game. The object of the game is to make me popular with everyone, which sounds dead brilliant. Apparently they've written an enormous programme containing 200 kilos of text, which Brainbox Henderson says it's a lot. Now everyone else can have a go at coping with all the problems that beset me over an entire year of my life. It's an illustrated text game, which means you have artistic pictures to look at while you ponder about what to do next. So have a go, and see what it's like being a budding intellectual and poet who has to cope with my family, friends and the dog. Then you'll know what I have to put up with. Ha! Ha! Ha!
THE ARCHERS (1985)
If they put you in charge of The Archers, how would you change life in Ambridge? Here´s your chance to find out. In this four-part, illustrated, text game you are the story editor, taking the plot decisions for Jack Wooley, Eddie Grundy, Elizabeth Archer and Nelson Gabriel. You´re in charge, but you´ll have to face the consequences of your decisions. They may cause a stir in The Bull -- or in Broadcasting House. Watch out for memos from the Controller Radio 4 and see how you fare in the charts!
THE PRICE OF MAGIK (1986)
The House of the Red Moon is a weird place, haunted by arcane powers from the
mythical past. It is the only place where one might rise from Sorcerer's
Apprentice to powerful Wizard, yet cheat the Price of Magik.
The Price of Magik is the sequel to "Adventure of Year 1985", Red Moon.
JEWELS OF DARKNESS (1986)
A dramatic rescue of goodly elves imprisoned in deep dark dungeons. The ORIGINAL adventure.
As an apprentice magician you are called before the Wizard's High Council and sent to defeat the Demon Lord.
The Demon Lord defeated... Onward to glory and greater riches.
SILICON DREAMS (1986)
SILICON DREAMS: taking the role of Kim Kimberley and one of his descendants you are a leading participant in the colonisation of Eden, a planet prepared for human habitation by an advance guard of intelligent robots, who battle with the native and highly aggressive fauna. In the highly structured and realistic environment you must move your mind into the twenty third century.
On board the colonisation ship Snowball you are awoken prematurely from hibernation - something must be wrong...
RETURN TO EDEN
Escaping to Eden, you must make your way to the Robot City of Enoch, but the crew of Snowball want revenge...
THE WORM IN PARADISE
Something is wrong in Enoch, but what? and how to solve it? as a mere citizen do you stand a chance?
KNIGHT ORC (1987)
Knight Orc is Level 9's most innovative and fun-packed adventure to date. Set in three parts, it casts you as an oppressed orc in a magical world where all is not as it first seems. For generations humans have been persecuting orcs, and now it's time to get your own back.
Knight Orc is a challenging game which is truly interactive. Each character leads its own life in the game, and their actions can affect you and the outcome of the adventure. Communication with other characters, learning spells and solving puzzles are all a vital part of the game if you are to escape the mystical world and take revenge on humankind.
GNOME RANGER (1987)
When Ingrid the Sloane Gnome is banished to the wilderness by her exasperated family, the monsters don't know what's hit them!
THE GROWING PAINS OF ADRIAN MOLE (1987)
"Welcome to the second computer game to feature the contents of my diary - is there no such thing as privacy? Such is the price of fame I suppose.
The aim of the game is to make me as popular as possible with everyone. You
make decisions for me through multiple choice questions. Now I am more mature,
life is even more complicated and I have even more decisions to make, so
there's a lot of text in there and some very nice illustrations too.
Some may think it's a game; I prefer to think of it as a sort of quest for the Meaning of Life - not easy to find in Laurel Close, Leicester!
So good luck, being popular as well as an intellectual is not so easy. I should know, I've spent all my life trying!"
TIME AND MAGIK (1988)
The world of Time and Magik will plunge you into a time travel trilogy of
wondrous, terrifying quests. Within these three complete adventures you will
combat every force from eternity's most horrifying evil.
In "Lords of Time", you will fight for the preservation of time against dinosaurs, vikings and mystic robots. "Red Moon" will pit you against the sinister Timelords as you attempt to recover the precious Red Moon Crystal, the last source of Magik. "The Price of Magik" throws you against The Mad Guardian of the Crystal and the grotesque creatures that guard his treasure.
Travel back to the Age of Chivalry when knights were bold, galloping across the countryside and rescuing damsels in distress.
Level 9 recreate the time of wizards and the Knights of the Round Table in their
greatest adventure yet. Lancelot is a three-part adventure, spanning the
complete saga from the foundation of the Order to its finest hour - the quest
for the Holy Grail.
Guide Lancelot through this many exploits at Camelot, battle with wayward knights, and win the love of Guinever and Elaine.
The challenge which has fascinated treasure hunters through the centuries is now yours - and you'll need all your strength, wit and valour to achieve your goal.
INGRID'S BACK (1988)
Jasper Quickbuck, insider-dealing lord of Ridley's Manor, plots to steamroller the gnome-belt for yuppie housing.
To the gnomes' horror, accident-prone Ingrid Bottomlow, just escaped from her "holiday" in the wilderness, seems their only hope.
When immovable market forces meet the irresistible Ingrid, will there be a U-turn? Or will humour be the only winner?