King's Keep

by Ian Wright
Firebird Software Ltd
Crash Issue 36, Jan 1987   page(s) 189

Producer: Firebird Silver Range
Retail Price: £1.99
Author: Ian Wright

Harold is a very nasty King. He rules his kingdom by bullying the inhabitants and locking up their cabbage patch dolls if they're naughty. However, King Harold has a son who is a little more broadminded than his dad. Harold's son objects strongly to the way that his dad rules the country. But King Harold knows that his son has sympathies with the locals and won't let him out of the castle in case he tries to start a rebellion. So Harold's son will remain a prisoner for ever and ever unless you can help him to escape from his father's evil clutches.

Harold Junior really wants to escape from his father's tyrannical rule, but first be has to find a way out of the castle. Old Kingy has been very sty and has blocked up some doors and made moving around the castle very difficult. Luckily Harold junior is a smart lad, and by using everyday objects which he comes across on his travels, he can attempt an escape.

When the imprisoned prince enters a new room in the castle, the location scrolls across the bottom of the screen. In the same way conversations can be carried out with the various characters who live in the castle. These characters often give Harold's son hints and tips regarding which objects are useful to collect. There are options to give objects, examine them fully and use them. The conversation with the characters can be carried out by selecting the TALK option.

Harold Junior moves around the castle on foot, but he does have quite springy legs which is just as well really, because some rooms can only be entered and exited by way of platforms and large jumps.


Control keys; jump Q; left O; right P, pick up 1; inventory 2; list commands 5
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: strange at first, but quite straight-forward really
Use of colour: reasonable
Graphics: dull
Sound:unusual spot effects
Skill levels: one

Kings Keep is yet another trite arcade adventure. To be fair this has some nice features like the messages under the playing window but all in all I couldn't really play this for more than ten minutes without losing what's left of my sanity. The graphics are pretty much run-of-the-mill for this type of game, lots of colour but not much detail. The sound is also a bit limp, no tunes and very few effects. As always the instructions given were a little lacking in content so it could take a while for you to learn the ins and outs of the game.

A suprise!! FIREBIRD have come out with another budget arcade adventure. I'm sorry to say this, but, I really have got to hate this type of game. There seems to be very little programming thought involved in this type of game nowadays. The characters are fairly large but aren't detailed enough to look like real things. Colour is well used and clashes are almost nonexistent. Kings Keep is very easy to get into; but basically the game is another boring adventure that doesn't excite any of my feelings, and the result is a very dead end game. Only for the dedicated arcade aventurer, with a small budget.

This is the sort of thing that gives budget a bad name. Back in the days when full price meant a program and budget meant a few hours doodling with a game designer this would have been acceptable, but these days it belongs in the waste bin. There is nothing original in this game at all. Just think what you could do with two quid instead, Hire a video, buy a paperback, just about anything, just don't buy this.

Use of Computer: 42%
Graphics: 50%
Playability: 58%
Getting Started: 50%
Addictive Qualities: 31%
Value for Money: 45%
Overall: 42%

Summary: General Rating: Budget tat.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 14, Feb 1987   page(s) 76


'Oh no!' thought I, as T-zer handed me yet another £1.99 game to review. What did I do wrong? Have I upset our bleached bombshell, I wonder? Maybe she got out of the wrong side of the coffin this morning? And yes, I was right - the plot of this particular game is almost as original as one of the Ed's jokes!

You play the son of a heartless King who's locked you up inside the keep because he reckons you're far too soft on the revolting peasants - ugh. And guess what you have to do - yep, get out. I told you this was original. Though this one is slightly different in that instead of being hindered by nasty creatures great and small, you must make your escape by solving puzzles a la Mikro-Gen's Three Weeks in Paradise. You know the kind of thing - find the old man's necklace and the sheet of music that accompanies the lyre. All entertaining stuff.

To begin with I found game control extremely strange. As you jump you can still move left and right, which in a lot of cases is the only way you can get out of some areas, even it you do look ridiculous prancing about like Prince. Nonetheless, King's Keep is very playable - easy to get into and slightly more taxing on the old grey matter than the usual run-of-the-mill cheapie shoot 'em ups. You wont even be able to explore some of the locations unless you've warped, sorry wrapped, your brain round particular puzzles.

It's not the greatest game in the world and it probably won't be a chart-busting success but if you've got two quid dangling about in the depths of your pocket and you fancy a bit of fun, you could do a lot worse than shelling out for Kings Keep.

Graphics: 6/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 58, Jan 1987   page(s) 50,51

Label: Firebird
Author: Ian Wright
Price: £1.99
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

King Harold, my father, is heartless. Being cruel he terrorises his people into submission. Being completely nice. I'm incarcerated by my father in his keep.

This is obviously a budget game.

King's Keep could have been just another inferior Spellbound rip off. It has lots of rooms, objects to pick up, little menus that come down giving options and you jump around a lot. First impressions - very average graphics of the usual graphic adventure objects - were not favourable.

But then I tried to play it.

I haven't found a game quite as difficult to play as King's Keep in many, many moons.

The whole point of the game turns out to be not so much collect the objects and find out what to do with them as 'how on earth do I manage to jump, change direction in mid-air and successful land on a suspended platform without overshooting'.

The first screen nearly had me weeping - my hands ached from gripping the joystick, I couldn't see how you could get out but, in the tradition of such things there was just one way - it involves simultaneously jumping and then a fraction later completely changing direction...

King's Keep will test your jump technique to the limit but it's also a menu-driven 'use the objects' game.

If you make it past the first two screens you'll start to find objects and meet curious people. Using the Talk option on the menu will make the character reveal some sort of information - an object they'd like or whatever. Some key areas are marked F for forbidden and crossing their threshold means instant death - unless you have the right object in your possession. All the backgrounds are plain - bricks or craggy bits mostly, objects are simple looking though there are some nice plants here and there... No prizes for graphics though.

If you regard King's Keep as the ultimate jumping challenge you'll love it.

One of the best budget titles from Firebird for a long time but definitely not for novices.

Overall: 5/5

Summary: Visually unexciting but fiendishly difficult mixture of Manic Miner and Spellbound. Really devious - a real challenge.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 64, Feb 1987   page(s) 45

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Firebird
PRICE: £1.99

This game will keep all Spellbound lovers happy. It has the same sort of menu operating system as Spellbound. This means that the only difficulty in the game is making the tricky moves that are needed at times.

The graphics are average and the attribute problem is kept to a minimum. The movement of your character is very fast and can cause a few problems when a delicate move is required.

If you do try to enter one the game comes to a sudden end. The playing area does not seem to be all that big. Certainly a must for Spellbound fans, but otherwise just an average game.

Graphics: 5/10
Sound: 3/10
Value: 5/10
Playability: 6/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 34, Feb 1987   page(s) 40


The country is ruled by a tyrant. The peasants know it. The merchants know it. What makes the fact that you know it even harder to bear is that King Harold the Heartless, as he has become known, is your father. Suspecting that your loyalties lie with the people rather than him, he has had you imprisoned in the depths of his castle. Can you escape and help to overthrow your father the despot or will you suffer his domination like the rest of the populace?

Like many arcade adventures being released at the moment, King's Keep has heavy platform game overtones. Dotted around the castle are various bits of furniture and brick wall that can, by means of a prodigious leap, be reached thus allowing you access to other parts of the castle. There is also a fair amount of objects to be collected on your travels and people to talk to.

Pressing the "5" key brings up a list of additional commands available to you. These range from talking to someone giving them something or manipulating a previously acquired item. For example the crazy old man has lost his necklace. As he is blocking the entrance to another part of the castle it would seem prudent to try and find it in the hope that he will let you pass. Certain areas of the castle are marked with an 'F'. This means that you are forbidden to enter them until a certain task has been accomplished. Refusal to obey results in an instant game over message.

The game, if nothing too original or stunning to look at is quite playable, and if you enjoy the collect-the-objects-and-solve-the-puzzles type of game, then King's Keep is not bad value for money.

Overall: Good

Award: ZX Computing Globert

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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