Knight Lore

by Chris Stamper, Tim Stamper
Ultimate Play The Game
Crash Issue 12, Jan 1985   page(s) 16,17

Producer: Ultimate
Memory Required: 48K
Retail Price: £9.95
Language: Machine code
Author: The ACG Team

It must be Christmas! You can tell by the fact that Ultimate has released two games simultaneously. Underwurlde is the follow up to Sabre Wulf and Knight Lore is the follow up to Underwurlde. Ultimate have been clever enough to ensure that both new releases are very different from each other in playing style and game design. Whereas Atic Atac, Sabre Wulf and Underwurlde all played with 3D Knight Lore uses a very solid 3D perspective in which the 3D plays an important part spatially.

Our brave hero, Sabreman, is back again, pith helmet still firmly in place, but now roving the torturous rooms and passageways of Knight Lore castle to seek the old dying wizard, who is the only person who can free him from the deadly curse (appearing in a pith helmet all day perhaps)? The old wizard, whose name is Melkhior, is like many another game wizard - he sets traps and tests to ensure that all who reach him are worthy.

Knight Lore is played over forty days and forty nights. At the base of the screen a moon and sun symbol indicate the time. By day Sabreman is himself, but at night he changes into a werewulf. In either condition he is vulnerable to sudden death. The rooms are populated with all manner of spiky death and large stone blocks. In some respects Knight Lore resembles a 3D platform game, where the trick in each room is to discover the route and the methods by which you can reach the various charms which must be collected without being impaled on a spike, crushed by a failing ball chain or zapped by a poltergeist. Sometimes the ghosties are useful in helping you to move about, but panic sets in as the days run out, for after the fortieth day, Sabreman, if he fails in his quest, will forever become a werewulf.

Scoring is by time taken, percentage of quest completed and charms collected with an overall rating offered. As in Underwurlde there is no Hall of Fame, largely due to the size of the program.


Control keys: alternate keys on the bottom row for left/right, any keys on the second row for forward, any key on the third row for jump, any key on the top row for pick up/drop
Joystick: Kempston, AGF, Protek, Sinclair 2
Keyboard play: very responsive, plenty of options for simple control
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: excellent 3D, marvellous design and imagination
Sound: terrific
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 4
Screens: not known, but loads
Special features: Filmation, which allows you to do almost anything with the objects in the game

Sabreman is back, but this time he's back in glorious 3D. Knight Lore is similar in appearance to Avalon, but the graphics are bolder. With that said Knight Lore resembles nothing I've played before. It is fun, addictive, but to sum up in one word it's Brilliant! From what I can gather from the rhyming instructions you've got to put together a potion to stop yourself from turning into a werewulf - and one of the excellent touches in the game is the transformation from man to beast and back again. After a while I think I preferred the werewulf. The people at Ultimate obviously have devious minds because you only have to look at some of the rooms to see how wicked they are. On the whole I found Knight Lore slightly more pleasing than Underwurlde for two reasons; it's slightly easier and it's not as frustrating. Once again Ultimate have come up with the goods, Knight Lore is sheer perfection, get this for Christmas - you definitely won't regret it.

It's nice to see Ultimate depart from the Sabreman theme in Knight Lore. This game is totally different and original from anything they've done before - in my opinion it's the best game they have yet produced. Graphics are in 3D and use the new technique of masking, so that the moving characters do not flicker at all when they pass in front of other objects, and only one colour is used per screen which avoids any attribute problems. This does not mean that the game is lacking in colour however, since each screen has its own colour. Some of the graphics are distinctly original, quite different to anything produced on the Spectrum before. The graphics are so detailed, imaginative, large and well drawn, it is impossible to complain about them. There is just such a lot to see and to explore, it's incredible and a joy to play. This game is full of mystery in the sense of why do you turn into a werewulf at night!? What do any of the objects do, is a question I keep asking myself - just fun collecting them. Good use of sound has been made with some nice tunes. To sum this game up I do think that this is probably the best game yet produced for the Spectrum and it seems to me to be perfect in every sense. I honestly can't see how any real improvement can be made on this - well worth the £10.

Any Ultimate game is a thrill to unpack and load, but with Knight Lore they have surpassed themselves. The 3D graphics are so exciting to see that the fingers are instantly itching to get at the keys. A novel innovation here is the option to select what is called directional control as well as the keys or joystick functions. This adds eight directional movement to Sabreman, which is very useful in the tight confines of the 3D screen. The 3D itself is excellent, with marvellous drawing of the walls and characters, and Ultimate have used the hidden view idea very cruelly, so that a hint may be given of something nasty crouching behind a stairway - but you're never sure until it's too late. The most has been wrung from the situation, for example, blocks may move on their own, sometimes they are carried by ghosts, sometimes they sink when you land on them, sometimes they vanish to reveal deadly spikes beneath. The animation is terrific from the smallest detail right through to Sabrewulfman himself. Knight Lore has that magical ingredient which makes it exciting to play and watch, and keeps you on the edge of your seat with anxiety. IT'S SIMPLY A GREAT GAME.

Use of Computer: 93%
Graphics: 97%
Playability: 97%
Getting Started: 90%
Addictive Qualities: 96%
Value For Money: 93%
Overall: 94%

Summary: General Rating: An outstanding game at the price.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 12, Mar 1985   page(s) 33

Roger: Beginning life as some sort of gothic Noddy, the quest through Melkhior's castle is frequently interrupted by one's temporary transformation into a werewulf. which is what, ultimately... (groan)... this superior escapade is all about. In a mere on-screen 40 days and 40 nights, your canine metamorphosis will become tragically permanent and the game will be up in all possible senses. Better get moving, eh?

Splendid isometrically-projected 3D cartoon participants and hazardous, but cleverly defined, rooms demonstrate how this program leaves most of the rest in a technical Dark Age. Despite my getting somewhat chunderesque about these programming chaps who even blow their noses in machine code remaining unimaginatively fascinated by Sword'n'Sorccry plots, this remains one slice of mysticism that isn't stale.

I'll personally front up with a bottle of fizzy 'falling-over' pop for the first infinite lives POKE - so that I can actually survive for more than my current appalling 8% of the total cataclysmic content. 5/5 HIT

Dave: Ultimate shows no sign of stagnating and producing duff games - in fact, the games get better and better. Knightlore is original, playable and has superb graphics. Show it to your Atari/Commodore-owning friends and turn 'em green! 5/5 HIT

Ross: What can you say about Ultimate when it comes up with software as good as this! The graphics are second to none and the other characters in the game seem to have a life of their own. 4/5 HIT

Dave: 5/5
Ross: 4/5
Roger: 5/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 38, Mar 1987   page(s) 74

Use of Computer: 93%
Graphics: 97%
Playability: 97%
Getting Started: 90%
Addictive Qualities: 96%
Value for Money: 93%
Overall: 94%

A game that needs little in the way of introduction. It was first ever isometric 3D arcade adventure, and two years on, programmers are still producing clones.

The player controls Sabreman, who has to collect charms and take them to a cauldron room. Each room contains traps and problems that require a combination of logical thinking and sharp reflexes to overcome. At night, Sabreman turns into a Werewolf, and if he doesn't complete his quest in forty days and nights, he is doomed to remain a werewolf for ever. Poor little lycanthrope!

"Any ULTIMATE game is a thrill to unpack and load, but with Knight Lore they have surpassed themselves. The 3D graphics are so exciting that the fingers are instantly itching to get at the keys. The 3D itself is excellent, with marvellous drawing of the walls and characters. The hidden view idea has been used very cruelly, so that a hint may be given of something nasty crouching behind a stairway - but you're never sure until its too late. The animation is terrific, from the smallest detail right through to Sabreman himself. Knight Lore has that magical ingredient which makes it exciting to play and watch, and keeps you on the edge of your seat with anxiety. IT'S SIMPLY A GREAT GAME."

"Knight Lore was, and will probably always be, one of the most magnificent games on the Spectrum. It was the first 3D game to appear. Superior graphics are coupled with magnificent animation and a subtle sprinkling of humour. I remember when it first arrived in the office the whole place stopped dead while we crowded round the screen in awe. As for changing the ratings. I think most of them still stand today. In fact I would be inclined to put the use of computer rating up by a couple of percent, but we don't have that rating army more!"

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 51, Apr 1988   page(s) 84


From Ultimate's classics to the cute and quirky Head Over Heels, we've had our arcade adventures in the strange 3-D of isometric perspective.

But, says WILL BROOKER, some of those first tentative steps in the new dimension work better than today's glossy games.

Way, way back when Hungry Horace was still a national hero, 3D Ant Attack sneaked out under the Quicksilva label. Its Softsolid graphics of the walled desert city Antescher were hailed as astounding, and 3D Ant Attack wedged itself firmly into Spectrum history as the first game with truly three-dimensional views.

The next isometric blockbuster was Vortex's Android 2, released in the spring of 1984. In gameplay it's just a 3-D version of the old arcade game Berserk, but the graphics (which CRASH gave 96%) brought it up to this magazine's Game Of The Month standard.

Programmer Costa Panayi followed this up with the impressive TLL - a fighter-plane simulation with a carefully worked-out dynamic playing area. There's not a lot of game behind it, but the flying is enough.

The Softsolid technique was soon followed by the first 3-D 'adventure movie' - Hewson Consultants' The Legend Of Avalon. Its adventure element is a bit dubious, and the term 'arcade adventure' would be disputed for years after its release, but the game was a great success with its colourful, pseudoisometric graphics.

In 1985 the spate of high-quality isometric games continued: Ultimate's classic Knight Lore was followed by another Vortex game, Highway Encounter, and the next technical advance was Filmation 2. An Ultimate invention, this allows graphics of Knight Lore's quality to be scrolled smoothly over a large playing area. Filmation 2 was used for Ultimate's Nightshade, but was soon knocked into a cocked hat by The Edge's Fairlight.

Even back in the golden year of 1986 there were unimaginative clones which sometimes threatened to swamp all the review pages with their identical, and by then extremely boring, isometric screens. But some games brought a breath of fresh air to the already tired genre: the humorous Sweevo's World from Gargoyle Games, Ocean's surprise hit M.O.V.I.E, and Hewson's Quazatron. A Spectrum version of the Commodore 64 hit Paradroid, Quazatron amazed everyone by being superior to the original.

Not so original but also well-implemented was Ocean's Batman, and Quicksilva's Glider Rider deserves a mention along with Design Design's Rogue Trooper for taking a gamble and nearly succeeding.

Last year Ocean had a megahit with Head Over Heels, M.A.D. had a budget Smash with Amaurote, and Gargoyle brought out the first (and probably last) Hydromation game, Hydrofool - the sequel to Sweevo's World. CRL's 3D Gamemaker utility now enables everyone to rewrite Knight Lore, and last November saw the first real isometric adventure, Incentive's Karyssia.

Of course, whether isometric perspective presents a 'true' 3-D view is arguable - the player in these games is 'positioned'somewhere up in the air, outside the playing area, so any game using the technique looks forced, like a technical drawing. Though its representation of object and rooms may be highly effective, if we're going to nit-pick we can't say isometric perspective gives a realistic view.

But the technique has proved perfectly satisfactory for countless games, and it's pointless to damn them all for lack of realism.

More significantly, it will be interesting to see if the market for isometric graphics ever dries up, and if the public will one day reject the genre as outdated and overused, just as it once refused to accept any more Pacman clones.

94% Issue 12

'Sheer perfection,' enthused the anonymous CRASH reviewers of way back at the sight of Knight Lore's Filmation graphics.

The Filmation technique allows your sprite to physically interact with onscreen objects in almost any way, and with Knight Lore, the tenuously-related sequel to Underwurlde and Sabre Wulf, Ultimate's programmers surpassed themselves.

In this thrilling instalment Sabreman (the player) must brave the castle of the wizard Melkhior to find the ingredients of the potion that will cure his sudden lycanthropy (Ultimate's instructions take the form of an epic poem, but manage to say nearly the same thing). Fail, and you must remain the werewolf forever - but so what? He's a dam sight cuter than Sabreman.

Melkhior's castle is divided into rooms full of traps, structures and useful objects, all of which can be manoeuvred using Filmation. The avalanche of isometric games in this style has lessened the impact of Knight Lores graphics. Today they seem rather plain and simple, though the old Ultimate touches still stand out (the sprite looking warily over his shoulder, for example).

The game itself is a little unsophisticated for our times, too: essentially it's just a set of Manic Miner-type problems of timing, jumping and avoiding, and Filmation only comes in useful for making higher leaps.

Still, Knight Lore deserves some recognition for having started off the isometric-arcade-adventure genre proper - it's just a pity the subsequent deluge was so heavy.

Overall: 51%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 35, Feb 1985   page(s) 23

Memory: 48K
Price: £9.95
Joystick: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair

A more sedate affair than Underwurlde, Knight Lore brings us a stage closer to true arcade adventure. Ultimate has devised a technique it calls 'filmation' to depict 3D graphics in quite extraordinary style. Sabreman has been cursed and must change at night into a werewolf. In order to lift the curse, he must find the correct ingredients to counter the spell and dump them in the wizard's cauldron. The wizard lives in a labyrinth of caves and chambers full of traps and strange guardians.

Each chamber presents a specific problem. Some are easy to negotiate, others difficult. A certain amount of imaginative thought may be required, and the judicious use of objects found in the network is recommended.

But it is the graphics which truly astound. The first time you discover that you can push objects around, climb up and down, and all without flicker or any loss of speed, you will be amazed. When you move behind an object, you pass out of view. Piles of blocks may hide terrible traps - you will only find out by leaping onto them and testing them.

As an added bonus, the position in which you start changes from game to game, so there are always new problems to face and new routes to discover. Although it is relatively easy to explore the maze, it is much more difficult to work out which objects you need or discover the ingredients for the curative potion.

In order to produce such advanced effects, Ultimate has had to use only one colour for each screen. Careful shading is used to create the detail which might otherwise be done in colour. The overall effect is of a crepuscular world of claustrophobic menace. Does that chest hide an important secret? Is the span of rock to the high arch safe or will it drop me onto the poisoned spikes? How can I climb a wall three times my own height? What is the old boot for? Those questions have been asked by adventurers for years. Now the arcade wizards can taste that kind of magic for themselves.

Gilbert Factor: 9/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 70, Jan 1988   page(s) 43

Label: Ricochet
Price: £1.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony Dillon (Who else? Who is it who gets nearly all the re-releases, eh?)

Ultimate was once the pioneer of the software industry. Remember how the Spectrum world went crazy when Sabre Wolf and Atic Atac were let loose. And remember the stir that this game caused when it struck the tar and cement covered path (hit the streets to you, Mac). It was the first game to use the now familiar isometric 3D layout that we all know and luv. And it had, for its day, the most incredible cartoon-style graphics we'd yet seen. But the plot, the plot, my kingdom and half a jelly baby for the plot. After travelling back from Sabrewulf Forest, you come across Knightlore Castle. You enter with designs on killing the great wizard Melkhior. But all is not well, for when night falls you metamorphose into a werewolf. Aaargh. And I would just like to say that this is the best part of the game. The transformation. While walking around, you suddenly jerk and twist in a very amusing manner and reform as a werewolf. The graphics are still excellent with some great animation. A great bargain. Please - if there's anyone who doesn't already have this game - buy it and restore my faith in human nature.

Overall: 10/10

Summary: Still regarded as one of the best filmation games ever released, and definitely a classic. At this price, get it.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 39, Jan 1985   page(s) 28

MACHINE: Spectrum 48k
SUPPLIER: Ultimate
PRICE: £9.95

The adventures of Sabreman are finally drawing to a close with the release of Knight Lore.

After the encounter with the Sabre Wulf, our hero has now reached Knight Lore castle. His aim is to seek the Wizard, who can rid him of a spell which turns Sabre Man into a Werewolf during the hours of moonlight.

This game really is what I call a graphical adventure. You have to guide Sabreman through the hundreds of rooms in the castle, avoiding the obstacles and collecting any treasures.

What makes it special is that it's all in 3D, just like Ant Attack but better. Each screen is a mini adventure in itself and will take some time to solve.

As with Sabreman's other adventures, your clue comes in the form of a poem printed on the cassette inlay.

Knight's Lore's is called "The Most Tunes" and says...

The Wizard's older now than all,
His help you seek within his wall.
For forty days your quest may last,
Locate the potion, make it fast.
This hideous spell upon your soul,
To lose its hold must be your goal.
Beware, the traps from here begin,
The cauldron tells what must go in.
To break the curse and make the spell,
To save yourself and make you well.

Like real adventure games, you can use the objects lying around. If you can't reach something that's too high, move a table so that you can stand on it.

You may even have to carry objects from one room to another to put them to best use.

Control is via the keyboard or joystick. You can choose between Kempston and Interface 2.

At the bottom of the screen, a moon and sun move alternately across a sky to signify night and day. By day you take the character of Sabreman but, as the moon rises in the sky, you become a Werewolf.

I did find it annoying having to wait while my character changed personality twice each day, but that's what you pay for having a wizard putting a spell on you.

You have a time limit of 40 days to find the wizard. though each day lasts just a few minutes in "real life".

I've never seen graphics as good as this on any micro game. No wonder it's taken so long to appear. Like many other software companies, Ultimate claims that their game takes the Spectrum to its limits.

Play Knight Lore and you'll believe them.

Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 8/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 9/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Big K Issue 11, Feb 1985   page(s) 15


Gun loaded with silver bullets firmly to hand, FIN FAHEY stalks the chambers of Ultimate's latest mega-epic KNIGHT LORE with the Sabreman. He finds a game that won't be cracked easily or so he thinks.

There's no rest for Sabreman. Having emerged triumphant from his encounter with the fabled Sabre Wulf, he must now conquer the animal side of his own nature, for he has now become a werewolf. The only person who can help is the renowned wizard Melkhior, who unfortunately is a tetchy old geezer. To ensure that he isn't disturbed by idle callers, the wizened savant has surrounded himself with deadly traps and barriers of all sorts. Me, I'd just take the phone off the hook, but you know how wizards are.

So, in time-honoured arcade-adventure style, you have to get through them, collecting all the components of a potion which will free your soul from the dread curse of lycanthropy.

What makes Knight Lore such a joy to play, though, is the sheer style of the animation and room graphics. Ultimate eschew the use of screens full of bright clashing primary colours to concentrate on the details, and in doing so demonstrate that games can be highly playable and tasteful simultaneously.

The rooms of Melkhior's castle are displayed in three-D from an oblique viewpoint, which makes a change from the usual cross-section or plan layout. The objects also have a solid sort of feel. If there's a pile of blocks in the room you can walk out of sight behind it, for example. It's very reminiscent of Quicksilva's 'Softsolid' games. Unlike the latter, however, Knight Lore is beautifully animated. Even when your character hasn't been ordered to do anything, he's still on the move, peering around the room in a bemused fashion, or when in his wolf form, occasionally snarling quietly to himself.

A little moving indicator at the bottom of the screen shows you the position of the sun and moon, and when the moon rises Sabreman goes through his metamorphosis into an animal. This can be very disconcerting if you're just in the middle of negotiating an obstacle. The wolf form seems to be able to jump slightly further than the man, which can come in useful.

The traps are of many forms, from patrolling dwarf guards to simple problems of jumping from ledge to ledge. You may have to move the furniture around to get to objects you want. I don't think that we're going to get a rash of maps for Knight Lore, because the castle plan is different every time you play, although the relationship of rooms in a given section remains mostly the same. Even if you're a naff player like me, there'll be rooms you can solve, so it's a game everyone can get into quickly.

The only question is what happens next? The Sabre Wulf saga is starting to resemble the Grail legend. We can speculate that the unseen wizard Melkhior stands for the powerful moral force of Reason, a force which can drive out the dark side of humanity only after a ritual purification full of hazards. Suitably purged of evil, will Sabreman now set out to save the world? We can only wait.

Award: Big K Pick of the Month

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Personal Computer Games Issue 14, Jan 1985   page(s) 52,53

MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
CONTROL: Keys, Kemp, Sinc, Crsr
FROM: Ultimate, £9.95

The inlay card for Knight Lore makes intriguing reading. '3D scenario' it says. Also, 'amazing animation'. Plus 'Filmation, a unique process whereby you have complete freedom within the confines of your imagination to do as you wish with any of the objects and items. Sounds like the usual promotional con? No, this game is as much of a breakthrough as Ultimate claim.

For a start, the graphics are astounding. There have been plenty of 3D games in the last year, but this one is in a class of its own. The characters and objects are large and completely solid, not just line drawings. The perspective is as clear and convincing as you could hope for and yet, the action remains satisfyingly fast and precise.

You might think all this is just pretty window dressing. In fact, the 3D presentation is essential because most of the games numerous puzzles simply couldn't be displayed in 2D.

The story goes like thisL Sabreman, having escaped from the jungle and the Underwurlde now finds himself afflicted by a curse which has made him a werewolf. The only being who can free him from it is a certain wizard who must be located and given certain objects to create the necessary spell.

So, Sabreman spends his time roaming through the wizard's Escher-like castle, trying to get safely through 100-plus rooms, picking up objects en route. He has 40 days to complete the task - the passage of each day being indicated at the bottom of the screen where a sun and a moon rise and fall alternately. Every time the moon rises, Sabreman changes into a wolf, clearly a nasty experience even though the wolf does look rather cute.

But it's the challenge presented by individual screens which makes the game. There are spiked floors to be avoided, floating paving stones which may sink when you jump onto them, and evil barbed balls which fall from the ceiling. Then there are brilliantly drawn ghosts which rush through at dangerous speed, armoured guards plodding soberly in straight lines, and white spheres, which usually bounce gently around the screen, but can also act as a kind of ball-bearing to roll paving stones from one place to another.

These elements have been combined in different ways to create the most ingenious puzzles. In one screen an object you need is surrounded by spikes - you can drop onto it from above, but escape seems impossible. However, if you stand on a sinking paving stone for just the right amount of time, you can create a path to safety. Elsewhere there are objects hidden under paving stones, as well as booby-trapped objects - collecting one might cause barbed balls to fall and block your escape.

Control of Sabreman marks a departure for Ultimate, There are two keys to turn him left and right, another to move him forwards, two more to jump and pick up objects. This mode of movement takes a little getting used to, but at least the company have abandoned their traditional control key layout in favour of a much more workable arrangement. Joystick owners have an option called 'directional movement' which many people will find even easier.

One criticism of the previous three Ultimate games was that interest in them was bound to wane once they had been solved. I don't think this will happen with Knight Lore, because even after solving the game, there will still be the challenge of solving it in fewer 'days'.

There's no doubt about it, Ultimate's magic is as powerful as ever. Knight Lore will be every bit as influential as Atic Atac was a year ago. It's a spell binding triumph.

Like everyone else I was pretty devastated by this game. Not only are the graphics superb, but the game itself is choc-a-bloc with original touches. Somehow the 3D effects manage to generate a real sense of 'being there'. That, in itself, is quite an achievement given the limitations of 3D representation on a small screen, and Ultimate have obviously put an awful lot of thought into the design of each screen.

Other features that particularly appealed to me were the way your character keeps glancing excitedly about him, and the fact that you could 'reset' a screen by leaving it and re-entering it. Reckon I'll be losing quite a few knights' sleep over this one.


Ultimate have finally gone the whole hog and put Sabreman into 3D. This filling out of the classic explorer has given him a new lease of life and I found the game tremendously absorbing.

While the room layout may remind you of Atic Atac the new perspective and the problems set provide a new challenge. Brilliant graphics and Ultimate sound effects as usual and they're still keeping ahead of the competition.


The transformation from man to werewolf is brilliantly executed, and I was almost tempted to sit back and let days turn to night just to admire those special effects.

But the game is also very playable, if not easy to solve in the 40 day limit. I found the controls difficult at first but they soon became very responsive - though not responsive enough for me to get anything better than a rating of 'Poor'. It's a marvellous game and one I'd stick at until I'd cracked it.


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Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 7/10
Originality: 9/10
Lasting Interest: 10/10
Overall: 10/10

Award: Personal Computer Games Game of the Month

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair Programs Issue 27, Jan 1985   page(s) 12

PRICE: £9.95
GAME TYPE: Arcade Adventure


Strange cries fill the office. "Aargh, the blue parrot strikes again", "Zap that flying jellyfish", "What does it mean, special effects: chest of drawers?" It can only mean one thing. Ultimate have released the final parts of their Sabreman trilogy, Underwurlde and Knight Lore.

Both games axe brilliant, original and highly inventive. They must both confirm Ultimate in its place as number one manufacturer of consistently excellent Spectrum games. It is here that the similarities between the games end.

Underwurlde takes up the maze theme of earlier Ultimate games, in a strikingly new way. You begin on level fifteen of a labyrinthine series of underground caverns. Your aim is the Ultimate palace of darkness, where your final escape lies. In the first place, though, your aim is to survive long enough to find out what is going on.

Strange animals dive at you, knocking you from your perch. Falling too far will kill you, and extra lives axe not easy to find. Bubbles emerge from craters and float upwards. If you jump carefully, you can float up on them. Jump too high at the roof, and you will catch on a rope. Swing down quickly on it, and beware the falling stalactites.

To go anywhere in reasonable safety you will need the bubble gun which you will find in the first room. To move further into the maze, and to kill creatures such as the giant beetle, you will need to find a sword .

The game is brilliant, the graphics axe superb, and the program is surpassed by very few Spectrum programs.

One game which does surpass it is Knight Lore. In this game, three dimensional graphics are used to greater effect than ever before on the Spectrum. Once again the maze and quest theme combine, but the breathtakingly good graphics, and the creativity which has gone into every room, make this a game which stands head and shoulders above the rest, a game by which all future maze games, and most other games, will be judged.

Three-dimensional graphics have had their problems in the past. Perspective slides in and out of focus, attributes seem to go totally haywire and you are left, after half an hour, with crossed eyes, a blinding headache and a vocabulary of a few, very short words.

Ultimate have overcome all these problems. Their perspective is flawless, their outlines and colours sharp. Each room is shown in one colour only, and your character changes to that colour as it enters the room, so there is no colour clash, or merging of detail. The rooms are a pleasure to see, and they remain so, again, and again, and again.

Your aim , in Knight Lore, is to find the wizard's cauldron and to throw into it certain objects which will break the spell on you; the spell which turns you to a werewolf every night, and which will leave you trapped in wolfs form for ever in forty days if you cannot break the spell. Finding the wizard's cauldron is one problem, finding the objects and getting them there are several more.

Each room has a puzzle within it. Some rooms have skittering ghosts, some taciturn soldiers, others balls of fire, huge spiked blocks, vanishing stairways, obstinate flames. Most have deadly combinations of these problems. To make matters worse you change to a wolf as the moon rises, and to a man as the sun rises. Annoying at the best of times, this change is lethal if it occurs in the middle of some delicate manoeuvre.

Underwurlde and Knight Lore would have been strong contenders for the Soft Spot if they had been launched any earlier in the month. They are both excellent games. If you can raise the money, buy them.

Produced for the 48K Spectrum by Ultimate, The Green, Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire.

Rating: 99%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue 1, Jan 1985   page(s) 55

Ultimate Play the Game
Arcade Adventure

Quite simply the most enjoyable game I have played since International Soccer on the Commodore 64.

Imagine Atic Atac in three dimensions and you will have some idea of what Ultimate's latest blockbuster looks like - but what makes Knight's Lore so different is the feel of the game. You have 40 days to complete your quest.

Under attack from manic ghosts, plodding guards and killer balls you have to pick up treasures, get over apparently insuperable barriers - usually by dropping treasures as stepping stones or moving around handily placed tables make the best use of mysteriously moving blocks and map out the maze. People have been talking about arcade adventures for years but this is the first that requires good arcade skills and presents a series of problems to be solved within a satisfying whole.

On screen your explorer - or werewolf as he turns into by night - seems to have a life of his own. At first it can be very frustrating as the computer starts you off in different parts of the maze none of which seem to link to the others. But once you make the connections and realise it is all set out on a 16 x 16 grid it begins to look solvable.

Yet again the feeble excuses software houses have been making for the weak games produced have been shown up by Ultimate.

Overall: 5/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue Annual 2018   page(s) 57

As the Crash annuals are still for sale ZXSR has taken the decision to remove all review text, apart from reviewer names and scores from the database. A backup has been taken of the review text which is stored offsite. The review text will not be included without the express permission of the Annuals editorial team/owners.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue Annual 1986   page(s) 47,48,49,50,51


Clare Edgeley blasts her way through a wealth of challenging software.

Get fit quick just about sums up the last 12 months. 1985 has seen enough sports games to put you off doing anything more strenuous than lifting a pint glass, at least for the next year.

Since the 1984 Olympics, we have competed in every imaginable sport: played footie with Bobby Charlton, run rings round Daley Thompson and been KO'd by big Frank... There is hardly an action sport left which has not been turned into a money spinner, with a Sportsman's name attached. What is wrong with Tessa Sanderson's Javelin anyway?

Daley Thompson's Decathlon was first to the tape back in November '84 and notched up a gold for Ocean when it jumped to number one in the charts for a few weeks. You have to compete in all ten events of the decathlon, taking part in the high jump, long jump and pole vault as well as track events. The 400m is the most gruelling and to keep up speed you must pump the joystick back and forth, which may result in a touch of cramp. The graphics are colourful and the game does give a taste of the real thing.

Melbourne House also attempted a compilation of events with Sports Hero, although it was nowhere near as successful as Daley Thompson. Sports Hero has you competing in four events - 100m sprint, long jump, 110m hurdles and the pole vault, over three difficulty levels. To gain speed you must pummel the run button and press the jump button before takeoff. Aching fingers seem to be the norm in that type of game and in many cases you will end up with a sick keyboard as well. There is no sound and the graphics are not fantastic, although the scrolling background is interesting. A few more events should have been possible.

More recently, Brian Jacks' Superstar Challenge from Martech reached the top ten, although it came a poor second to Imagine's Hypersports. Both contain a weird hotch-potch of events - some interesting, others boring. Brian Jacks gives you a pretty raw deal. For £7.95 you can immerse yourself in such exciting events as squat thrusts and arm dips. Those may be thrilling to watch on TV but on computer they are about as much fun as a wet blanket.

Hypersports is a different ball game altogether. Licensed from the arcade game of the same name, the computer version is very like the original, although some events lack imagination. When swimming - or floundering, if you forget to breathe - instead of tearing down to the end of the pool, the end moves towards you. Clay pigeon shooting is certainly one of the better events, in which you must shoot the skeets through automatically moving sights. The vault is tricky and rather than vaulting as far as possible from the horse, you are likely to end up on your head beside it. The graphics are generally thought to be more professional than Daley Thompson's Decathlon, though whether the game is better is a moot point.

Jonah Barrington's Squash from New Generation is an interesting concept which seems to have fallen flat. Knock a miniscule black ball round the 3D court and try to beat Jonah at his own game. Jonah is one of Britain's leading squash players. Much was made of the fact that a taped recording of Jonah's voice calls out the scores. Unfortunately, all you get is an unintelligible gabble and it is easier to read them on the score board anyway.

We awarded imagine's World Series Baseball three stars in the June issue, which just goes to show that our forecasts are not always spot on. In June, July and August it remained at number three in the charts, only dropping to eleventh place in September.

The game opens with a traditional rendering of the tAmerican National Anthem. Then play starts, with one team pitching and the other batting. You can play with a friend or against the computer, adjusting the speed and direction of the ball when pitching and the strength and lift of your swing when batting. Loving attention has been paid to detail with a large scoreboard displaying genuine adverts between innings.

Last, but not least, boxing - the sport for ugly mugs. Cauliflower ears and battered brains are only half the fun - just think what you can do to your opponent. A few months ago three games were released simultaneously on the back of Punch Out!!, a highly successful arcade game.

Elite's Frank Bruno's Boxing knocks Rocco and Knockout for six, and is easily the most playable and realistic, offering more possible moves and a greater number of competitors than either of the other games. It is also the only boxing game featuring a sporting personality - Bruno helped in an advisory capacity during production which explains the close attention to detail.

Gremlin Graphic's Rocco squares up well in the ring, though you will find it is not as easy to dodge your opponent as it is in Frank Bruno, and there are only three competitors. The scoring system is simple and the graphics are the clearest of the three games. It is worth playing and annihilates Alligata's Knockout in the ring.

Knockout is appalling and lacks any addictive qualities. It is the only game which uses colour - the others being mono - although that could have been sacrificed for extra playability. Other than left and right punches to the body and head, there is no facility for ducking and dodging, but at least you can amble away if the going gets too rough. You tend to spend a great deal of time seeing stars after being KO'd. At least it lives up to its name.

The legendary success of Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy lives on. Platform and ladders games are still the rage and dozens of versions have landed in the Sinclair User offices over the last 12 months. Two years ago Manic Miner was a sure recipe for success, and because it was ahead of its time a lot of money was made. Programming techniques are now more sophisticated and with games like Alien 8 and Spy vs Spy around, who needs a Manic Miner spin-off?

However, they are here to stay and some at least are worth the money you pay for them. One of the more successful games is Strangeloop, released late in '84, which has gone a long way to repairing the damage done to Virgin by Sheepwalk - one of its earliest and most awful games.

A half-crazy computer is the source of all your troubles in Strangeloop and, playing the part of a metagalactic repairman, you must shut it down. There are over 240 rooms filled with lethal swarf which attacks and damages your space suit. A jetbike waits somewhere and will make your task easier but you have to locate and refuel it first. Objects picked up will help with various tasks and friendly robots will patch your torn suit. The graphics are colourful and simple. and there is even a facility for saving your position on tape, to be resumed later when you have recharged your batteries.

Jet Set Willy II is the biggest rip-off of them all as Software Projects has done little other than add about 70 extra screens to the original. Essentially it is the same as Jet Set Willy which was launched back in 1984. The plot is similar; clear up the house before going to bed and avoid the hundreds of lethal thingummies found in each room. Despite being little more than a re-release, Jet Set Willy II is currently doing very well in the charts.

Despite the lack of original thought, if you are still hooked on the challenge of platform and ladders, try The Edge's Brian Bloodaxe. A loopy game if ever there was one. Brian, a viking soldier has been trapped in a block of ice for centuries, and as it thaws, he leaps out shivering, but ready to conquer the British. Flapping 100 seats, deadly ducks and mad Scotsmen are a few of the dangers that lurk on each level. Objects to collect and chasms to be leapt add to his daunting task. Brian Bloodaxe is at least as good as Jet Set Willy, with much visual humour and bright, clear graphics.

Hewson, which has made a name for itself in recent months with arcade adventures such as Dragontorc and simulations like Heathrow ATC, must have had a brain storm late last year with Technician Ted, which is totally unlike the semi-serious games released since. Guide Ted around a silicon chip factory while looking for a plate of the real things. Pick up knives, forks and other necessary implements and avoid several nasty traps. Easy to play and reasonably addictive, Technician Ted is not one of Hewson's best games but has done quite well in the platform and ladders stakes.

Artic's Mutant Monty is more sophisticated than Technician Ted and includes some extremely tricky screens requiring split second timing - if you are slightly out, a lemon or some other incongruous object will squash you flat, and then where will the beautiful maiden be? it is a constant source of amusement that so much work goes into preparing intricate story lines bearing absolutely no resemblance to the game you are playing.

On the whole rip-offs are uniformly mediocre in standard and not the sort of game you would buy for lasting playability. Real fanatics will find Activision's Toy Bizarre and Micromega's Jasper a doddle, and probably have more fun playing blindfold with their hands tied behind their backs. Both games are average and employ run-of-the-mill graphics. In Toy Bizarre, the player leaps round the levels of a toy factory popping balloons while being chased by a gang of irate toys.

Meanwhile, in Jasper much the same thing is going on, only this time you are a furry rat collecting money bags and treasure chests while avoiding furry cats, rabbits and other hairy animals. Platform games are usually fast moving and it is generally easier to keep up with the pace using a joystick. Unless you have very strong fingers, Jasper is doomed as your only option is to use the Spectrum's sticky keyboard.

Arcade adventures have come into their own in recent months, some remaining for weeks at a time in the top ten. With the advent of games like Gyron, fewer people are willing to put up with games like Jet Pac - classics two years ago but now gathering dust in cupboards across the country.

Superior graphics is the name of the game and the Spectrum is being stretched to its limits in a constant effort to improve software. Some games combine excellent graphics with originality, though equally large numbers have been launched on the back of the successful few. Ultimate's Knight Lore, Underwurlde and Alien 8 are three successful examples and Nightshade is expected to do as well.

Underwurlde is rather like a vertical Atic Atac featuring the Sabre-man who must escape a series of chambers while avoiding hosts of nasties. The pace is fast, the screens colourful - a devious game.

Knight Lore and Alien 8 could, at first glance, be mistaken for the same game. Featuring superb 3D grahpics, Knight Lore's hero must search a maze of rooms and find the ingredients of a spell to lift a curse placed upon him. Each room presents a challenge and one wrong move spells instant death. The scenario in Alien 8 is different from its predecessor and the quality of graphics is even higher.

Wizard's Lair from Bubble Bus is an Atic Atac lookalike with shades of Sabre Wulf and is an excellent game, even if you have seen the same sort of thing before. Bubble Bus has made some attempt to change the scenario which covers three levels, accessed via a magic wardrobe lift.

The programmers of Firebird's Cylu were influenced by Alien 8. Cylu is in the Silver range and at £2.50 represents very good value - it is almost as frustrating as the original but the graphics are a little patchy. Ultimate should be proud that so many companies want to copy their games, though it's a crying shame that those same software houses cannot put their combined programming expertise to good use, and produce something original of their own.

Games featuring film scenarios and famous names are often the subject of massive advertising campaigns, and Domark's A View to a Kill was no exception. Played in three parts you must guide the intrepid 007 through the streets of Paris, San Francisco and into Silicon Valley to stop the evil Max Zorin from tipping chip valley into the drink. The game received mixed reviews but, at the time of writing, it had just made it into the top ten - probably due to the James Bond name. It is an exciting game but lacks much visual detail.

The Rocky Horror Show from CRL is already sliding down the charts and does not live up to its namesakes, the film and play. Rescue Janet or Brad from the Medusa machine by finding 15 component parts of the de-Medusa machine. It sounds riveting. Your task seems enormous as you can carry only one part of the machine at a time and if you expect to meet normal sane characters in the castle, forget it. More could have been made of the graphics and the action is slow in places, but it is worth playing if only to meet Magenta who will strip you of your clothes. Wow!

Beyond's Spy vs Spy is unique and features simultaneous play between two players on a split screen. Take part in the zany humour of MAD magazine's two famous characters, the black spy and the white spy, each trying to stop the other finding secret documents in a foreign embassy. Set whacky traps as you ransack each room before escaping to the airport. It is fun, highly addictive and very amusing. Buying the licence to films, books and names is an expensive business, and at last one company has made the most of it with an excellent game.

It is interesting to note that when one unusual game is launched others of a similar nature swiftly follow. Perhaps all programmers follow the same thought waves. Last summer we had an unusual trio of games, reviewed in May, June and August issues. Two are based on the human body - not the most obvious subject for a game.

Quicksilva's Fantastic Voyage is a thrilling game based on the sixties film of the same name, in which Raquel Welch is injected into the body of a brain damaged scientist. Unfortunately, your mini-sub breaks up and you have only one hour to locate all the missing parts. Searching is a novel experience as you rush from atrium to stomach to lung and heart in a never ending circle. Finding your way to the brain is difficult as it is not signposted and the turning is easy to miss. Dine on red blood cells to keep up your energy and clear any infections which frequently break out - normally in the most inaccessible parts of the scientist's anatomy. A great way to learn about your bits, and where they are situated.

Icon's Frankenstien 2000 bears little resemblance to Fantastic Voyage, though it is played in a monster's body. Whoever heard of monsters smoking fags? This one obviously did and that is probably why it's dead. On reaching the lungs, battle with cigarette packets, avoid hopping frogs in the trachea, and fire at any oxygen molecules it is your misfortune to encounter. The graphics are uninspired and the game is simple.

Genesis' Bodyworks was reviewed in June and it is difficult to know what to make of it. It is hardly an arcade game - more of an illustrated, educational tour of the workings of a human body, describing the nervous, circulatory and respiratory systems.

Space Invaders was one of the first great games on the Spectrum and software houses have never tired of the theme. Space games crop up in all categories; simulations, adventures and arcade adventures. Activision has even brought out Ballblazer, a sports game played in space. Way out!

Moon Cresta from Incentive is a traditional game in which you shoot everything in sight, and then dock with another space ship before taking off to do exactly the same on the next level. With complex games like Starion around one would think that games of this calibre would flop. But no, there must be some people around whose brains are in their trigger fingers. Surprisingly, Moon Cresta is creeping up the charts. Long live the aliens.

Melbourne House's Starion takes space travel seriously and combines a number of features, including the traditional shoot 'em up, word puzzles and anagrams. Kill off enemy space ships and collect the letters they drop, then unscramble those to form a word. Fly down to earth and answer a puzzle to change the course of Earth's history. There are 243 events to rewrite - and that amounts to a lot of flying time. Starion is well up in the top ten.

System 3 has come up with the goods against all opposition with the dreadful Death Star Interceptor, which has proved surprisingly popular. If you are really into boring games, this is right up your alley. Played in three sections, first take off into outer space, next avoid assorted aliens and then, as in Star Wars, plant a bomb in the exhaust port of an enemy death star. It is all thrilling stuff.

Quicksilva's Glass is amazing to look at. Psychedelic colours make you want to blink in this repetitive but addictive game. There are hundreds of screens to blast through, and whole sections are spent dodging columns as you hurtle through a 3D spacescape. The rest of the time is spent shooting radar antennae off unsuspecting space ships. The graphics make up for any limitations in the game and demonstrates that a traditional shoot 'em up need not be boring.

This final section consists of a number of games which cannot be categorised. A strange mixture falls into this area - many are shoot 'em ups in some form or another, others require an element of cunning and strategy.

Gyron from Firebird, a Sinclair User classic, is a unique game in which you must travel through a complex maze, dodging massive rolling balls and keeping a watchful eye on the guardian towers to be round at each junction. Those shoot at you, but approaching from another angle may change the direction of their fire. As there are two mazes to get through, it should take months. Gyron is likely to deter arcade nuts, but for those with staying power, it is an attractive proposition. It did make a brief appearance in the top ten at the time of writing, but has since fallen away.

US Gold's Spy Hunter, based on the arcade game of the same name, is a faithful replica of the original. It all takes place on the road as you drive your souped-up sports car through a variety of traps laid down by the baddies. Equip your motor with a variety of weapons, obtainable from a weapons van which you drive into Italian Job style. Rockets, smoke screens and oil slicks are all strongly reminiscent of 007.

Elite's Airwolf is a game that we found so hard as to be almost impossible, and which everyone else seemed to find a cinch - and told us so in no uncertain terms! Try if you can, to fly your chopper down a long, narrow tunnel to rescue five scientists stuck at the end. Blast your way through walls, which rematerialise as fast as you can destroy them - a well nigh impossible task for those whose trigger fingers and joysticks have suffered from the likes of Daley Thomson's Decathlon. Airwolf has done better than we predicted. You can't win them all.

Ghostbusters, the mega box office hit last Christmas was a prime candidate for a computer game and Activision was first to the ghost. Featuring all the best parts of the film, it was an instant success and Activision did well to launch it simultaneously with the movie. Drive around the city coaxing ghouls into your ghost trap but listen out for a Marshmallow Alert. That giant sticky marshmallow man is quite capable of flattening whole streets unless halted. Greenbacks play an important part in the game as you have to buy your equipment to get started, and earn enough prize money for the number of ghosts caught, in order to take part in a final showdown with Zuul.

Finally Tapper from US Gold - another Sinclair User classic. Tapper is a simple but refreshing game centered round an all-American soda bar. You play a harassed barman, who must serve his customers with drinks. Easy at first as you slide them down the bar but wait until they have gulped down the fizzy stuff. Running backwards and forwards between four bars, make sure the customers have got a drink, and catch the empties as they come skidding back. There are three difficulty levels, each one faster and more hectic than the last. Tapper is moving up the charts and we are sure that it will go far towards refreshing the parts other games cannot reach.

The fierce competition over the last 12 months has chased many companies into liquidation. There have, however, been successes, particularly with a number of small software houses bringing new blood into the market. That can only be seen as a healthy sign.

The lack of QL games software is the only disappointment. Where is it? Other than a few basic programs such as Reversi, which cut its eye teeth on the ZX-81 years ago, there has been a dearth of games for this flagging micro. If games of the quality of Knight Lore can be produced for the Spectrum, why not for the QL?

Overall: 5/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 44, Nov 1985   page(s) 28

Knight Lore represented a breakthrough in games software. The Ultimate team had taken 3D graphics a quantum leap further, combining the perspective of Ouicksiva's Ant Attack with the stock solidity of the earlier Sabre Man adventures. The result was an attractive, minutely detailed, cartoon world in which you could push, slide, stack and climb objects with complete ease and absence of flicker. It was fiendishly difficult to play, too.

Alien 8, though possibly even more of an accomplishment in plot and puzzles, was unfairly criticised as being merely Knight Lore in space. That's the trouble with being the best software house in the country - you've a lot to live up to.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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