Level 9 published 20 games, and were in one way or the other connected to a
number of other games.
This extraordinary feat makes them the second largest text adventure company
right after Infocom, blatantly ignoring Sierra On-Line (whose early and
middle-period games did have text parsers after all, but counting the
3D-animated adventures as text adventures would be pushing the definition).
They were founded in 1981 by Pete, Mike, and Nick Austin: Mike was a fan of
Advent (aka Colossal Cave) and was disappointed that there was no port for
the British micro computers, so he simply wrote his own -- and that's how it
began, concerning text adventures. Before that, they had already published
software for 8bit computers, such as Extension Basic, and a couple of arcade
games for the Nascom.
The decision to publish the games mainly on tape and to port them to many
platforms made them the leading adventure company in England. Furthermore,
their games featured a decent parser with a dictionary of sometimes 1000
words and more, making them the most advanced adventure games ever available
on tape. Needless to say, this added to their success: Scapeghost, their last
and least-successful game, still sold about 15,000 copies.
The commercial decline of the text adventure genre finally forced them to
close down in June 1991, after they had desperately tried to stay in business
by selling their programming efforts to other companies. For instance, they
ported Cinemaware's Amiga game It Came from the Desert to the PC.