Litil Divil: Load Screen

Let’s have a UI post, because the load menu is the very worst part of this game. Take a look at it! Oh, sure, it doesn’t look that bad out of context, but you have to remember one thing: This game does not support a mouse. Input is strictly through the arrow keys and two action buttons, approximately equivalent to a NES controller. NES games often have pretty good menus, based around moving focus around with the D-pad. Now look at that screenshot again and ask yourself: Where is the focus?

The menu here indicates focus by a red border around the selected element, which blinks on and off, staying in each state for about a second. A second is a long time in UI-land, and it’s an especially long time for important visual feedback to be invisible. On top of that, whenever the focus moves, it starts over from the beginning of its cycle — which would be great, if that were the part where it’s visible, but it’s not. The whole thing is set up to make you either wait for a second after each keypress, or operate blind. Neither is ideal, but it might not be so bad if the whole thing weren’t also set up to make you need to move the focus multiple times in succession: it starts in the “cancel” button at the bottom, but usually the very first thing you want to press is the up/down arrows on the right, which control which level you’re dealing with, and you have to go through multiple save slot buttons to get there, even if they’re empty and disabled. I usually find myself keying in multiple presses to move to the button I want, then waiting to confirm that I’m on the right one before pressing it.

The leftmost button is for starting the level over rather than loading into its save room. That seems like it should be useful: if you haven’t found the save room on level 4 yet, you could use it to start from the beginning of level 4 instead of the save room on level 3. But in fact it’s disabled on levels where you don’t have a save yet.

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