2024 is set to start with a bang within the Commodore 64 gaming scene as Protovision have confirmed that they have secured the distribution rights to Yeti Mountain – a multi-genre interactive game adventure developed by a talented team headed by Russell Mills.
Spread out across three distinct episodes, Yeti Mountain features a well structured story narrative (well I would say that since I am responsible for the story) that sees you set out to Yeti Lodge Resort to investigate the suspicious disappearance of your best friend Chris. The game kicks off with some eye popping cutscenes lovingly crafted by Monte Boyd (Muddy Racers, Knights n Slimes), setting the back story in place before your player arrives at the resort. You then set off on a quest based RPG-style exploration game where you interact with characters, participate in ski events and explore the resort surroundings in order to uncover clues.
Yeti Mountain is a game that is designed in a way for the player to succeed. As you go around meeting the NPCs within the first part of the game, you will find that many will subtly point you in the direction you need to follow and progress always feels logical. At no point do you need to guess as to where you need to use a specific item as the game has been designed with an intuitive controls mechanism where by the items are automatically used in the right spot so long as you have collected that item.
Eventually, you will find your way to the first ski event, which is downhill skiing. Russell has developed a sophisticated ski engine with multi-directional scrolling, two degrees of turning left or right and randomised course layouts. In my view, this is one of the best ski game experiences to feature on the Commodore 64, all backed by some cracking SID tunes produced by Røly. Initially, completing the course within the allotted time will prove to be challenging and you may come face to face with the Yeti more than you expect. But like within anything in life – practice makes perfect and with persistence you should find yourself flying down the slopes. But if you still find yourself having trouble successfully completing the course, the game will extend your allotted time in your subsequent attempts – which again goes back to the development team’s main mantra with Yeti Mountain, which is we want you to succeed and see as much of the game as possible. In order to progress through Yeti Mountain, you will need to successfully complete all three ski events (with Slalom and Freestyle tricks being other ski events).
With success on hand, your investigations will lead you to the Yeti Lair and the second episode of the game. Here the game switches to provide multi-scrolling platform action as you explore the lair’s diverse environments filled with traps and subterranean fauna. There are 4 distinct game environments – the main ice zone with 3 sub zones (forest, tomb, and lava) with each zone containing ancient scriptures that when touched transforms your players physical abilities. The implementation of skill upgrades is very well done and provides a satisfying sense of progression within the game as you venture down the underground cavern. This part of the game contains some light switch based puzzle elements and a few false paths that sucker you into getting trapped. The experiences you go through within the second episode are all designed to get you ready to go one on one against the Yeti beast himself.
Having survived your battle with the Yeti and maybe learning of mystery behind the beast (no spoilers), the third episode sees you take to the slopes again as you ski your way down to the bottom of Yeti Mountain only to find that you have triggered a chain of events that will have dire consequences to the village at the bottom of the mountain. It is up to you to save the day, stopping along the way to partake in some casual puzzle solving as you try to restore power back to emergency warning stations.
Yeti Mountain is sure to provide C64 gamers with a unique experience – from its game setting, through to its references to 80s, 90s, and 2000s pop culture and to its five different endings, there is sure to be something appealing to everyone who will play the game.
Yeti Mountain is set for a release in January 2024.
As an exclusive to this special feature article for VITNO, I reached out to Russell for his insight into the whole Yeti Mountain project experience.
I started off by asking Russell, what inspired him to want to develop a game for the C64, in which he responded:
“You could say it all started when I was 7 years old, sitting in front of my c64, painstakingly typing out the famous Commodore balloon sprite example. It blew my mind when I was a child. I dreamt of one day making my own game. Over 30 years later, I stumbled across ‘You Have to Win the Game’ for the c64 and the nostalgia for the system came flooding back. Once I discovered the c64 was still very much alive with a thriving community, I made a promise to my younger self that I’d fulfil that dream.“
With Yeti Mountain being his debut full scale C64 game and having spent a few good years on the project, Russell admitted to be having a bit of anticipation and anxiety around the game’s upcoming release:
“Excited, nervous, emotional… there is quite an array of feelings to be honest. It’s been a 4-year journey for me. Gradually learning about the machine and meeting new friends along the way. I’m very proud of the team and what we’ve accomplish together.”
I finished off my chat with Russell by asking him what he was hoping that players would appreciate about Yeti Mountain, in which Russell graciously replied:
“It’s been an amazing journey. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Louie, Monte and Roly. A very talented bunch of guys with a variety of skills, but what stood out to me the most was our collective love of the system. Hopefully that passion will come across in the game and maybe… it’ll reignite someone else’s dream to make a game for themselves.”
To keep track of further news around Yeti Mountain, be sure to follow the Yeti Mountain game page over at Protovision.