Two weeks ago, Iron Maiden released a music video for their upcoming single, “Speed of Light;” taking their mascot Eddie through all sorts of digital worlds spanning 8-bit arcade games to modern action RPGs and shooters on a quest to collect trophies in the form of hearts for sacrifice. Iron maiden has put out a game, playable on their website, to act as a companion to the video. Unfortunately, this game only reenacts the first stage from the music video, wherein a large man is holding a woman hostage atop a building ala Donkey Kong. The gameplay actually strays a bit from the original formula, in that weapons (mostly heavy objects and axes) must be picked up and actually used on the boss to be able to reach the damsel in distress, who rewards you with a heart before you take the portal into the next stage.
After playing the game for a while, I found that it was actually rather well designed. In the first couple levels, the boss throws flaming TVs at the player; one would guess that as the levels get harder, he simply starts throwing more often. This, however, was not the case. As the levels went on, the classic barrels from Donkey Kong made an appearance, not only mixing up the gameplay greatly, but adding a level of strategy. In Donkey Kong, the player only needed to avoid the barrels and make it to the top of the level. In Speed of Light, not only does the player need to reach the top level, but they must do it while holding a weapon, which is destroyed upon use or when in contact with an item thrown by a boss (the “Destroyer” axe being the exception, which runs on a short timer). Worse still, unless the item is the axe, the player cannot jump while holding a weapon. This means that every action the player makes must be meticulously timed in order to prevent themselves from taking damage. This is a breath of fresh air compared to similar advertisement-based flash games, which often reskin a popular formula such as Bejeweled or Doodle Jump. Even Fix it Felix Jr. (of Wreck it Ralph fame) was devoid of challenge or depth.
Speed of Light may be a simple and somewhat repetitive, but it gives this reporter hope. Hope that video games well be seen less as cheap and easy throwaways in situations like these, and hope that more artists will follow suit and make their own iconic and well-made games, be they simple or complex.
The single “Speed of Light” will be released within the album “Book of Souls” September 4th.