Thing On A Spring is a fondly-remembered Commodore 64 game first published in 1985 by Gremlin Graphics. It was written by Jason Perkins and Anthony Clarke, with graphics by Mark Rogers and catchy music by Rob Hubbard.
It’s a scrolling platform puzzle game featuring a lead character who is a spring and who must jump and make his way through a toy factory full of “evil toys”. Rather annoyingly, ‘Thing‘ will rebound off anything he comes into contact with while jumping. This means that Thing On A Spring has gameplay that could be considered an “acquired taste”, and might drive you nuts if you’re not careful with your movement.
Thing‘s life energy is measured by an oil gauge at the bottom of the screen. If it drops to zero it’s game over, and you only get one life. The gauge can be topped-up, though, by collecting oil canisters that are sparingly scattered throughout the levels.
Thing On A Spring can be a confusing game to play unless you figure out what to do. For example: to get the elevators working, so that they transport you upwards and not downwards, you must first collect a present on one of the initial levels, which changes them (shown as an up-arrow icon at the bottom of the screen). Then you need to collect another present that turns on the ability for switches to jet you around the levels (shown as a rocket ship icon at the bottom of the screen), and so on. In fact: there are five different presents (and icons) to activate during the game, to enable these various abilities, and without them you’re going to get nowhere (other than become frustrated).
Also: on-screen, there’s a pointer moving between four Roman numerals all the time and you may be wondering what this means. It’s simply the location of an elevator that takes you to four different floors, that you reach at the far left of every level.
The downside to Thing On A Spring is that it is possible to become stuck in some situations, if you put a foot wrong. Which is old school gameplay rearing its head in a very old game. In those instances you can’t do much except die and re-start the game.
Thing On A Spring is a fun game when you get into it. It definitely has a frustrating edge to it, and won’t appeal to those who like their games easy, but it is well-presented and has stood the test of time well. A sequel, Thing Bounces Back, was released by Gremlin in 1987.