The Game: Help Sammy Lightfoot, circus performer extraordinaire, climb to the top of multiple levels by using trampolines, trapezes and your wits to avoid roaming meanies. (Sierra On-Line, 1983)
Memories: From the success of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong came, well, lots of games that were similar to Donkey Kong. And while Donkey Kong‘s plot (especially compared to the games of today) may seem incredibly simplistic, many of the clones that followed it had even less of one. Such is the case with Sammy Lightfoot. Like Mario in Donkey Kong, Sammy is a portly fellow who has been tasked with reaching the top of a series of platforms. The games box art and documentation describe Sammy as a circus performer, ostensibly to explain the trampolines and trapezes located on each level. This is where the plot ends, and the action begins.
Sammy Lightfoot (the game) consists of three levels, each with different obstacles blocking Sammy’s path to the top. Like most 2D platform games, stepping off a platform or touching just about anything leads to the player’s instant demise. Maneuvering through each level involves lots of jumping and swinging. Each level is built on patterns that are easily memorized, so once you’ve beat one a few times you should be able to blast through it at top speed. Once all three levels have been completed the game starts over on the next difficulty setting. The difficulty ratings ramp up quickly; I can beat the first difficulty setting in my sleep, and I’ve yet to beat the third.
The game’s sounds and graphics are a bit of a letdown. Sammy Lightfoot for the C64 looks and sounds almost identical to the Apple II version — the in game tunes are produced with a single voice from the SID chip, and the color palate of green and purple girders looks to be lifted directly from the Apple’s color scheme as well. Even in 1983, C64 programmers were capable of more than this. It’s a shame the C64 version of Sammy Lightfoot wasn’t tweaked to take advantage of the Commodore’s capabilities. I suspect that if the game had been ported later in the C64’s life, the game would have been more detailed.
Although Sammy Lightfoot is a fun game, there’s not enough there to keep players interested for long periods of time. It’s one of those games that I play every time I pull my C64 out of the closet, and quickly remember why I stopped playing it. The C64 version of Sammy Lightfoot certainly holds its own against the same game on other platforms, and while the game isn’t particularly deep, it’s a perfect half-an-hour time killer.