Lilly Adventure

Atari 2600

Review by John Christovassilis



Graphics: 8

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7

Okay, it's high time we cleared up one of the greatest misconceptions of the videogame community: that of women in action adventure videogame roles.  Lara Croft may have been the first (female) videogame sex symbol / babe, but she was categorically NOT the first female protagonist to go gallivanting off into videogame history as its first true heroine, despite what Core Design's ace programmers and her PR smart alecks may want the general public to believe.  Oh no.  Let me take you back in time and introduce you to some real action adventure chicks back when platform didn't only mean a type of shoe.

<>  It was a usual late Friday night in my cosy chalet high up in the mountains of Switzerland and I was working through my latest acquisitions from AustroCon 2002<> in an effort to finally update my trade list.  Among the many pirate games I had managed to trade for was Alices Abenteuer by German company Quelle (identical to Lilly Adventure by Homevision and also by Quelle), so after powering up my VCS I thought I might as well see how far I could get in the game before putting it away, for I am still very much a gamer at heart despite indulging in collecting as a serious hobby.

<> The first 10 screens went by quickly, so I thought I'd tackle the next 10; I mean how many screens could this dinky little game have?  Bobby Is Going Home only has 8 screens which then apparently repeat 32 (!) times anyway (according to the instruction manual), so this must be in the same vein, right?  WRONG!  Another 10 screens later and I'm getting hooked, so on I go.  Another 10 screens come and go and I begin to lose count until I hit Screen 68.  And a brick wall.  No, not literally, but if I could have found one then I would surely have smashed my head, the cartridge, the console and probably anything I could lay my hands on against it in total anguish and frustration as I could NOT complete Screen 68!

<> Don't get me wrong, I'm a pretty decent (platform) game player and I love finishing games whenever I can.  I cut my teeth playing such platform classics as Burgertime, Cauldron, H.E.R.O.<>, Impossible Mission<>, Jet Set Willy II: The Final Frontier, Popeye, The Pharaoh's Curse and Toy Bizarre on my C64 many years ago, none of which I ever finished, but I had heaps of fun in trying to do so.  In addition I have completed Adventure<> on the VCS (not a platform game but that's a minor detail, right?), Bruce Lee, Cauldron II, Commando (it has bridges which are like platforms), Ghostbusters! (okay so I'm pushing it a little now), Wizball and Zorro on the C64, and the excellent Another World and Flashback on the Amiga, plus I can complete Pitfall II: Lost Caverns<> on the VCS, XE and C64 within a couple of hours with no major hiccups, but this was something new.  (Did you know that on the XE you get a totally new layout once you complete Pitfall II?  But I digress…)

<> Roderick Hero and Pitfall Harry make it tough for you in Activision's two classics and I have never completed either of these two great games (assuming that such feats are even possible) as I always run out of lives, but Alices Abenteuer is different in that it lets you go on and on with a seemingly infinite number of lives, so the temptation to just keep playing until I finished the game was too much to resist.

<> But where was I?  Oh yeah, dreaded Screen 68.  I began cursing out loud, begging Alice to get her ass home.  I mean, Smurf rescued Smurfette and Bobby got home so why couldn't she do it?  In fact, why was home so far away anyway?  The curses turned to pleas as the music began to grate beyond belief (I had to turn the volume down on the monitor for fear of causing permanent damage to my nerves and sanity) and then back to curses again as I found myself inundated with a combination of bad luck and bad timing as I tried to jump over the oncoming baddies while simultaneously trying to avoid the black bird while only jumping on the alligator/crocodile heads when their mouths were closed.  @!#?@  Impossible!

<> I imagined fat German kids being forced to play this game (and Mangia, but only because you get fat in it) if they had not done well on their tests at school, but this didn't make me feel any better as I could relate to them on certain levels.  I spent hours trying to conquer this screen but all to no avail.  I was going to leave the VCS on all night and then tackle it anew in the morning but, as any serious gamer knows all too well, there is something called pride that makes us want to complete a screen and then a game before we can call if quits.  What the heck, Joe once spent 85 hours beating Final Fantasy Spirits (DP #37), so I'm sure I could muster up the resolve to get Alice home, right?

<> I guess resolve wasn't the only thing pushing me on.  Curiosity was a factor too.  I mean, what the hell was going to happen in Screen 69?  Was Alice going to meet Bobby (or even Lilly) for a private one-on-one?  The possibilities seemed awesome (at the time) so I knew that come hell or high water I simply HAD to get across Screen 68 one way or another.  I took a break, went upstairs, walked around the chalet for a bit to clear my head and then came back to the game with a fresh mind and a resolve of steel.  Alice would buckle up and get her ass home as her parents were surely worried sick by now.  In essence I was living her plight, wanting her to get home more than I wanted anything else in the world, and I knew that I was the only one who could help her to do this.

<> And so it came to pass that by sheer determination and divine intervention (luck?) I managed to crack Screen 68.  I ran outside onto the back terrace once Alice was safely in Screen 69 and I looked up into the starry night sky and I thanked God, out loud, for allowing me to complete this screen and for not letting me lose my sanity over a video game.  It was a moment of pure elation, sort of like when your team scores in the dying seconds to clinch a critical game after wasting chance after chance.

<>Screen 69 was nothing special and despite my initial disappointment I pushed on, anxious to get to the end of the game.  I must say, in retrospect, that the screen layouts do change somewhat as you progress through the game, similar in style but much harder than those in Bobby Is Going Home, and the baddies also appear at different intervals.  (Hint: if you jump down onto a turtle you can actually sneak under the large boulders by falling off of its back but by continuing to walk closely behind it.  You'll need to jump twice when reaching the end of the bottom of the screen though; once to get back on the turtle's back and once again to get back to the top of the platform.)

<> The game ends after Screen 99.  The final game screen says 1000 at the top of the screen, your score appears below the action (mine was 81,071 just for the record) and a 95 appears below that.  I'm still not sure what that 95 signifies but there was always a number to the right of the screen number that was consistently 5 below the screen number, so I guess that this is it.  I went upstairs to see Emily (my wife) after taking a number of photos of the screen and her first question was "Whom were you talking to?"  I asked her to come downstairs and I explained the whole story to her.  I'm lucky in that she used to have both a VCS and a C64 growing up so she knows what it's like to be frustrated by a game, but she was convinced that I was really having an argument with someone that night.  Alice and Lilly, along with Bobby, have now been banished to live out the rest of their existence in my Ikea cart drawers, and I genuinely hope never to have to go through such a gaming ordeal ever again, although I also know - secretly - that I will, and that the satisfaction I get when I complete a game for the very first time is a unique and very gratifying feeling.  So dig out either Alice or Lilly when you've got a few hours to spare and let me know how far you get…


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:27 PM