I was already a fan of Ultimate Play The Game's back catalogue; if you were a Spectrum owner, it was kind of required by law. Regrettably, I probably enjoyed them more in theory than in practice.
I liked the art, I liked the way the packaging made them all feel part of a collection. I liked the company logo. In reality, I'm not sure I ever finished one of their games, as they were maddeningly, arse-clenchingly, tough... though that was probably true of most games back them.
It was as if I liked the idea of games more than the games we actually had, and was basically waiting for technology to catch up with me.
There had been isometric games before, of course - Zaxxon, Marble Madness, Ant Attack, Iso Solly (bit racist) - but Knight Lore felt like a preview of the future.
I'd taken a copy of a magazine - probably Your Sinclair - over to a friend's house, to show him the screenshots of this astonishing new game they were covering. That's the impact Knight Lore had on me; I needed to show people, to share in it, because I could scarcely wrap the moist flaps of my brain around it.
I remember that moment so clearly, because my friend's reaction was to sort of shrug, and sniff, and go "yeah, looks s'alright", while pretending not to the care.
Not for the first time I wanted to grab him and shake him. He frequently had that effect on me. He was the sort of kid who would give people the silent treatment for days. Most people I know who remember him remain scarred by his epic levels of passive-aggressiveness.
One time on a school trip, he asked out a girl, and was turned down. I later found him standing alone on a beach - wearing his pencil-thin keyboard tie - looking out to sea, whilst singing "Some Guys Have All Luck". He's still known in my family as "Delightful Spread", because he came to my 14th birthday party and remarked "My, what a delightful spread" when he saw the buffet.
I've not seen him since I was at college, when he started ignoring me, because I had a girlfriend and he didn't. He's a policeman now, apparently.
Where was I?
Looking back, Knight Lore remains a good-looking game - an astonishing achievement when you consider what came before it.
It must've been like the introduction of sliced bread.
One day bread was just a big lump.
The next it was all sliced and that. People probably fled from the supermarkets, screaming and panicking, convinced the bread was going to steal their souls, or try and kiss them with its crusty lips.
Lumo is a tribute to the isometric platform/puzzle genre, a return to the days of Knight Lore and Head Over Heels... and to the Spectrum era itself. Frankly, it can kiss my loaf with its crusty lips any day.
BEST & WORST
Lumo is both the best and worst of the isometric genre in one.
At points it is maddeningly frustrating - a consequence of the genre itself making it virtually impossible to gauge leaps (not to mention a series of ice levels late in the game, which will test any player's patience to twanging point).
Sometimes it's hard to work out the relative heights of platforms, or maybe something is obscured behind a bunch of blocks. Puzzle solutions frequently feel unsolvable because of the quirks of the camera perspective, rather than any inherent ingenuity.
But Lumo is shameless in its dedication to the pixel perfect demands of isometric gaming. To complain about that would be missing the point; Lumo is meant to be like that, it's meant to be a warts-and-all tribute to the past - but gets increasingly ambitious with that tribute as it goes along.
The rooms/levels become ever more complex, redefining the boundaries of what isometric can achieve, constantly introducing new ways to navigate rooms, or solve puzzles - I was particularly keen on the loved-up crate, that follows you around the room.
Fortunately, Lumo is generous enough to allow you to play it your way: there are three control schemes, and you can either play it with infinite lives (essential), or with limited lives, retro-style (impossible... until somebody posts up a video of them doing it).
And this is crucial. Surely nobody ever actually completed Knight Lore or Alien 8? If you play them now, they're fine-looking games, but they're a complete pain the Johnny to play. And slow. So very, very sloooowwww...
By giving you infinite lives and autosaves, Lumo makes concessions for stupid babies like me, who think that enjoying a game should come above everything else.
It's hard to find too much fault with Lumo, because its heart is so in the right place, and it achieves its objective. It's charming, it's generous, and - starting off with a Spectrum loading screen - it's a pure nostalgia blast for gamers of a certain age (even fans of Whistlin' Rick Wilson are catered for, rather unexpectedly...).
Maybe the music could've been a little less repetitive, and the visuals could've done slightly more to evoke the 8-bit charm; pixel art feels over-used, but if ever there was a case for going there, this was it.
But still. That might be me missing the point; its developer, Gareth Noyce, wanted to answer the question of what isometric games would be like if they were around today. Job done: they'd be like this. What a delightful spread.
SUMMARY: For some of you it's a maddening, if charming, throwback. For the others it'll be the isometric game we always wanted to play. And finish.
SCORE: 1,984 out of 2,016.