For the Spectrum, 1984 was the year in which a decade of evolution occurred. This was when games started to shift very quickly from pure reaction to interaction, but not everyone was celebrating. While many saw these changes (in particular the isometric adventure genre) as a progressive benchmark, others grumbled that what was gained in atmosphere and immersion had been lost in gameplay, something which the early Eighties classics had no shortage of. There's truth in both sides of that argument, but whatever your opinion, the eighties scene would surely have been a lot duller if gaming hadn't evolved at all. For this reason, 1984 could well be the greatest in the Speccy's history, because it had the best of both worlds: the second half premiered cinematic classics like Knight Lore and Avalon, while the first half of the year was full of mini delights like Gimme Bright, a simple arcade game with just left, right and jump controls. Of course, Gimme Bright is a new game, but with the use of the standard Spectrum font, a Sabreman-esque main sprite and pick up and play appeal, it's so reminiscent of the period that no doubt in a parallel universe somewhere, the game gets a half page review in the June 1984 issue of Crash!
Gimme Bright's reference point turns out to be a year later: it's actually based on a 1985 arcade game called City Connection which was converted to the Spectrum but never released at the time due to licensing problems. Gimme Bright is a more scaled down affair, with the car sprites in City Collection replaced by Sabreman's cousin and bizarre floating enemies. The objective here is to colour all the platforms by moving over them whilst avoiding the various dangers roaming around the screen, which makes it more like Miner 2094er than the source material. Unlike in City Connection, you can't fire at the enemies, so the only thing you can do when faced with them is to jump. An addition to this version is the floating stars that drift around; if collected they give you bonuses such as more time, an extra life or the automatic colouring in of all the platforms on the screen. And that's all you need to know to get started. Gimme Bright really is an old school videogame: simple in concept, simple in execution.
GIMME GIMME GIMME SOME BRIGHT AFTER MIDNIGHT
While it'll take you two minutes to work out how to play it, Gimme Bright does offer a fair challenge. The first stage is fairly simple after a few goes, but level two is a lot more intricate, and no one should find it a walkover. In particular, the bottom floor becomes really tough, and you'll certainly meet your maker a few times trying to work out the best way to colour it whilst avoiding the gaps. Graphics are '84 style functional; the eye catching backgrounds of City Connection are gone, but of course that doesn't affect the gameplay. A serviceable BEEPer tune livens up the front end (this is a 48k program), and there are some decent spot effects.
Overall, I would say Gimme Bright achieves what it sets out to do, which is to make a solid, scaled down City Connection homage. The responsive controls and good collision detection help a great deal too. Perhaps the reduction of the game has knocked its appeal though; in particular the inability to fire at the bad guys is limiting on later levels, plus the less interesting sprites and bare backgrounds do seem to strip away the original's personality somewhat. For that reason, I've got to recommend the original, barely known Spectrum conversion of City Connection over this one, because it's quite simply a better version of the game. Still, in Gimme Bright we have a nice variation which is worth playing nonetheless. It might not turn people's heads with its visuals, it might not get many nominations in the Oldschool Gaming awards at the end of the year, and it definitely won't end the conflict in Libya. But it might give you a little smile as you get nutted by the ghost on level two for the forty-fourth time, and that's got to be worth something in this crazy ol' world. Give it a try.