by Chris Stamper, Tim Stamper
Ultimate Play The Game
Crash Issue 12, Jan 1985   page(s) 17,18

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

Ultimate have an uncanny knack of releasing games just too late to be able to do them justice in a review because the issue is usually on its way to 'bed'. But with Underwurlde and Knight Lore they were late enough that they missed the last issue altogether and thus gave enough time for this one!

As is well known by Sabre Wulfers, Underwurlde is the second 'Sabreman' game, but arguments that Sabre Wulf was Atic Atac with greenery, hold little water with the new game. The perspective is different for a start - you view the game from the audiences' view of a stage (which makes mapping rather harder), although all the locations do logically connect to make a massive maze, seemingly bigger even than the one in Sabre Wulf. But one of the principal changes, and the first time that Ultimate have employed the device, is that the nasties do not kill you off - they just get in the way. It is possible to die however!

We've become quite accustomed by now to Ultimate's oblique inlay cards which give the flavour but no playing hints for the game. Once again it's a question of sorting out the hows, wheres and what fors. Sabreman, recognisably the same intrepid hero from the previous game, pith helmet intact from his encounters in the jungle, has entered the Underwurlde, to seek the Devil in his Lair and, of course, the way out... As with Sabre Wulf, scoring is by percentage of locations visited and a score accumulated by nasties killed and objects collected.


Control keys: Q/W left/right, R/E up and jump/down, T to fire a possessed weapon, CAPS to V drop from rope, B to SPACE pick up/drop a weapon
Joystick: Kempston, AGF, Protek, Sinclair 2
Keyboard play: very responsive, although the QWERT combination is awkward, all three reviewers agreed that they work quite well in this particular game
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: large, smooth, fast and detailed - excellent
Sound: very good, although it is restricted mostly to 'contact' noises
Skill levels: 1
Lives: 6
Screens: unknown at this time, but loads!
Special features: hyper load

It looks as if the hyper load is here to stay because even Ultimate is using one now. Is the normal Spectrum loading system dead? Underwurlde is certainly no Atic Atac part three - it's a totally original game that will keep you enthralled for ages. From what I can make out from the usual Ultimate instructions all you have to do is find your way out - simple enough, no! There are quite a few things to hinder and help you, such as the plethora of Ultimate nasties. But these don't kill, they just make you bounce about all over the place and the only way I've found to die is to fall a long way. This is a mixed blessing because when you seem to be doing well, you seem to fall a lot. Sometimes it seems practically impossible to finish a game when you want to. Underwurlde must take up every available byte because the maze is so huge and complex, something that became apparent after playing for twenty minutes and only scoring a paltry 10! Ultimate's graphics need no explanation, but an obvious item missing is the Hall of Fame (but I'm sure the spare bytes from this went to a good cause). Ultimate have come up with another excellent game featuring the walking, dancing and now jumping Sabreman (all the nasties in the underwurlde seem to have scared him so much he's shrunk - or has he just had a wash to get rid of the jungle stink)? Underwurlde is more worthy of the 10 quid price tag than was Sabre Wulf so there shouldn't be any complaints about that. I especially liked the volcanic bubbles on which you can stand and ride, and the eagles which carry you all over the place. This is more of an adventure than Sabre Wulf ever was, so you will have to pick up certain objects to get past certain creatures. If you don't like the QWERT layout, then you will be disappointed to learn that it's been used again on this game, but I found it easier to use than a joystick because you don't need down much and the up key is also used for jump. You just can't fail with this game, and if piracy means an end to games like this, then piracy's not really worth it, is it?

Underwurlde is definitely Ultimate's best game yet. It has super sound and graphics, as you would expect from ACG, plus (as far as I can tell at this stage) an even more complex playing area than SW. Moving around from level to level by skilfully jumping up and down the screen is made even harder by the various Gremlins and Harpies knocking you flying in mid jump. Sabreman has lost his sword but instead he can use various different weapons for several different purposes such as getting past the guardians. I really enjoyed playing Underwurlde and highly recommend it to everyone, although it's a shame about the high price.

At a first glance, Sabreman resembles Bugaboo the flea. It's that athletic leap that does it. This huge jump combined with the fact that the nasties don't kill but do hinder, makes playing Underwurlde quite a different experience from anything Ultimate have done before - and it looks as though it should lead to some staggeringly high scores since killing the gremlins is essential if you are to keep your precarious balance! As usual, the graphics, movement and detail is superb - so is the sound. It is important to get a weapon as soon as you start, fortunately there is the red bubble gun, otherwise you can get hemmed something terrible by the nasties. The frustration level in this game is pitched about right, and there is always plenty going on. I liked the ropes and the large gaseous bubbles - it's playing details like this that keep Ultimate well ahead in the arcade stakes.

Use of Computer: 89%
Graphics: 95%
Playability: 96%
Getting Started: 90%
Addictive Qualities: 96%
Value For Money: 86%
Overall: 92%

Summary: General Rating: Excellent.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 11, Feb 1985   page(s) 44,45,48

Sabre Man's back... and this time he's hell-bent on involving himself in all kinds of unholy goings-on. Ross Holman enters the demonic universe of Underwurlde to find out whether playing games of this nature is good for the soul!

Sabre Man is turning out to be Ultimate's answer to Indiana Jones - and in much the same way as his movie counterpart, Sabre Man looks set to be a standard character in many an Ultimate graphic adventure to come.

In Underwurlde, the sequel to Sabre Wulf, Sabre Man's in all sorts of untold danger in a labyrinth of rooms, caves and passageways. And if you're worrying that Underwurlde's going to be a rip-off of Atic Atac, don't - Ultimate's latest offering is totally different and totally compulsive.

Once the game's started, you see the familiar, if somewhat diminished, figure of Sabre Man... but set in very unfamiliar surroundings. The cassette sleeve reveals that Sabre Man begins his adventures in a palace called Underwurlde, and his mission is to escape alive! Sounds pretty simple... The action takes up most of the screen, except for the top two lines that are used to show the score, the number of lives left, your 'gem power', the number of weapons collected, and how deep into Underwurlde you've penetrated.

Perhaps the most notable omission in Underwurlde is Sabre Man's trusty sword. In fact, our hero starts off without a weapon to his name... but there just happens to be a catapult lying on the floor of the first room and with it, an infinite number of stones. The other three weapons, a bow, a firebrand and a knife, lie further afield, but you can hold all four at once.

After Sabre Man's stood around for a while admiring the graphics, the 'nasties' will have come out of the woodwork to annoy him. Note that the larger sprites don't actually kill your character ' they just annoy you to the point that you make some silly mistake. Of course, on the other hand, Sabre Man can be made to kill a few of the 'nasties' - a course of action I can thoroughly recommend.

After a while, I was wondering if Sabre Man could possibly die; in most Ultimate adventures I don't usually have time to think about this particular problem! Movement of your character left and right is possible - but since his jungle escapades, Sabre Man has acquired some gymnastic skills and he's now capable of jumping across vertical shafts. Ultimate has also programmed Sabre Man with a useful sense of self-preservation; every time he comes across a huge drop, he'll automatically jump rather than fall.

Getting back to dying... my first experience came when I tried to jump Sabre Man on to a nearby ledge. Of course, I misjudged it, and dropped through to the room below and ended up, legs in the air, stone-cold dead. And what do you know - everything looks different; underneath the castle, the caves are rock-strewn and you'll come across a number of bubbling craters. Having decided to jump across one of the craters, Sabre Man was found to float on the bubbles and head off to the room above. It seems a successful method of getting to the top of the maze, but most of my attempts were thwarted by a squid-like creature that seemed not to be sympathetic to the fact that I was pretty inexperienced at using the volcanic elevators.

Discovering the ropes was also more of an accident than a planned operation. Approaching the edge of a precipice, I allowed Sabre Man to throw himself into the inky blackness and, to my surprise and Sabre Man's relief, the cave ceiling seemed to hold the graphic figure there as if it was smeared with superglue! Closer inspection revealed Sabre Man clinging to a rope, which could be extended by pulling back on the joystick until... yes, you've guessed it, he gets nabbed by another of those tentacled terrors. By this time, you're feeling quite relieved that you're given six lives to complete the adventure!

Once you get the hang of the ropes, they're simplicity itself. As you've gathered from my first experience of using the ropes, though, that's not the problem - it's what you do once you're on the rope. It's essential to move downwards as swiftly as possible and keep firing; be prepared at any time to slow down or pause movement on the ropes, just in case of collisions. You also have to keep one eye out for stalactites - these can fall (at random, as far as I could see) when Sabre man jumps for the rope. Needless to say, stalactites are not the most user-friendly objects in Underwurlde.

Once you've lowered the rope to a level that you can jump off to the ground, you can always use it to climb up - you just have to remember where you left it. Of course, jumping off the rope once Sabre Man's reached the top is not the easiest of tasks but practise makes perfect.

After a few games I found that I could manoeuvre Sabre Man onto the bubbles in the rock pools, and this really was a much better technique for moving up to higher levels. In fact, I found it quite easy to jump from bubble to bubble to avoid the 'nasties', but I wouldn't advocate that technique until you've got a few hours of Underwurlde under your belt.

The only other thing about negotiating shafts that's probably worth knowing is that if you jump Sabre Man on to a gem, he'll build up the amount of energy that's indicated in the top left of the status panel. This figure is a measure of the time Sabre Man can spend falling without dying. So, collect those gems... it's worth it in the long run!

Underwurlde is split into three regions and each is watched over by a guardian. These comprise of large purple graphics sitting under ominous stalactites. And you should by now have guessed the connection between the fact that you've to find three weapons (after the catapult) and three guardians to kill; each guardian requires a specific weapon to be fired at it before it'll cash in its chips.

Once you've managed to kill a guardian, though, you'll be allowed through to the next section. Trouble is, you've also unleashed the eagles; these winged graphics will swoop down and carry Sabre Man off in their claws - sometimes they take you somewhere useful, but more often than not they don't. If an eagle does scoop you up and start flying off, you do have the ability to struggle which, even if it doesn't lead to you being dropped quickly, will certainly impede the eagle's flight.

Last, but certainly not least, you'll come across the third guardian which just happens to resemble the devil on the front of the cassette box. When I first came across this evil little graphic, I found I couldn't get past him at all - everything I fired at him was useless. Luckily, hairy hacker Dave Nicholls came to my rescue with the tip that the guardians could be jumped past. The trick is to get as close as you can to the guardian and wait ... eventually, a 'nasty' will come up behind you and knock you past the guardian. Not only does this mean you don't have to spend hours searching for weapons, but if you don't kill the guardian, the eagles don't appear - which certainly makes the game that much quicker!

Once you've got the hang of manoeuvering Sable Man through some of the trickiest situations in Underwurlde, you're ready to start mapping out the rooms. This isn't that difficult as the screens are paged rather that scrolled. However, there are 605 rooms... so the task is just a little daunting!

Perhaps the first and most important thing to master is control of Sabre Man. You'll have to be able to judge distances down to the last pixel if you're going to survive through to the end. Also, in a similar way to other Ultimate games, there's a slight delay between your entry to a room and the 'nasties' appearing ' so, if you can move swiftly from screen to screen you can avoid many pointless confrontations. You also have to be careful not to rush blindly into one room from another - if you don't know the terrain that well, you'd be well advised to check out the next room carefully... just in case there's a huge drop as soon as you enter, so you can take the appropriate jumping action.

Part of the appeal of Underwurlde must be the way the 'nasties' buffet you around from room to room like on a pinball machine ... without actually killing you. Although there are only three different breeds of 'nasty', all behave in a completely different way. On the whole, I'd advise you to eradicate them as soon as they appear - but then I walked around the whole game with my programmable joystick set to fire continuously.

Those who managed to defeat Sabre Wulf, this next bit's going to give you a feeling of deja vu. Once you've battled your way through all three sections and manoeuvered our hero past the devil, all that's left to explore is a totally unexciting area that leads up to ground level and your final escape. And then you get the message of congratulations and news of the next adventures. Watch this space in a few months' time and maybe you'll be hearing all about Pentagram and Mire-Mare ... who knows!

Personally, I think Underwurdle's a wonderful game combining luck and skill with a very frustrating backdrop of humour and, of course, Ultimate's usual high standard of graphics. I for one can't wait for Pentagram... or MireMare... or whatever it's going to be called!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 38, Mar 1987   page(s) 74

Use of Computer: 89%
Graphics: 95%
Playability: 96%
Getting Started: 90%
Addictive Qualities: 96%
Value for Money: 86%
Overall: 92%

Sabreman is still battling with danger - this time he's trapped in a huge underground labyrinth. The meanies aren't deadly, but bash the little hero about nevertheless. Failing large distances is fatal, and there are a lot of huge drops which may be negotiated by riding bubbles of volcanic gas. or by using a rope to get down and across chasms. Weapons need to be collected in order to get past particularly big meanies, which block strategic parts of the maze.

"Undenwurlde is certainly no Atic Atac Part Three - it's a totally original game that will keep you enthralled for ages. ULTIMATE's graphics need no explanation, but an obvious item missing is the Hall of Fame (but I'm sure the spare bytes from this went to a good cause). ULTIMATE have come up with another excellent game. I especially liked the volcanic bubbles on which you can stand and ride, and the eagles which carry you all over the place."

"I must have been one of the first people to complete Underwurlde. I played it in all my spare time until I reached the end, and what an anti-climax it was too! The game didn't really offer anything new in format but it was very compelling. At the time I think we all overlooked the fact that all in all it was just a big maze game with pretty graphics. There are a lot of games around today which are very similar to this, and many of them involve doing more than just getting out of a maze. The ratings should all be put down to the low eighties or high seventies as the game has dated considerably.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 35, Feb 1985   page(s) 24

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

Fresh from the jungles of Sabre Wulf the Sabreman returns, just in time to make pots of money in the Christmas rush. Ultimate has released two new games featuring the character, both with the superb graphics we have come to expect from the company, but different in conception.

Underwurlde is a sort of vertical Atic Atac. Sabreman is now given the ability to leap about the screen, and has a variety of weapons used as missiles. The task, as ever, is to escape. Monsters, which include evil plants, eagles, gargoyles, flying jellyfish and harpies which may actually carry you off, do not kill you as such but bounce you around the screen, knocking you off your perches.

The Underwurlde is a series of large chambers connected by chimneys. Fall too far and you will lose a life. To negotiate the climbs, you must either leap from perch to perch, or hitch a ride from volcanic bubbles, which steam up from craters on the lower levels. It is often easier to descend to the caverns in order to rise.

The game is extremely fast and colourful; those braggart voices which claim previous Ultimate productions are too easy will find life in the Underwurlde is no picnic. You will need to find the right weapons to deal with special foes, work out a route to the open air, and all the time maintain a ferocious pace of reactions and nimble movement to avoid disaster.

Gilbert Factor: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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

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

Like all Ultimate's games, this one took a long time coming but turns out to be well worth the wait.

Underwurlde is a multi screen adventure, along the same lines as Sabre Wulf, and features the further exploits of Sabreman.

The Underwurlde must be the largest map ever crammed into a Spectrum. According to Ultimate there are around six HUNDRED screens.

At the top of each screen is shown your score and how deep you are into the Underwurlde. Your aim is to reach the surface by climbing through all the levels.

One complaint about Sabre Wulf is that most of the screens are the same. The flowers may be pretty but there are too many of them.

You can't say the same for Underwuride. Each screen is different and the objects and aliens are as good as any previous offering from Ultimate.

So how do you get out from the Underwurlde and what will be there greet you when you make it? The only clues come from a rhyme on the cassette inlay which tells you little about the game. Like all good adventures, you'll have to find out the rest for yourself.

Your direction controls are up, down, left and right which can controlled by a joystick or the keyboard. My only gripe about this game, and all of Ultimate's others, is that the keyboard control is difficult. For some reason, they always seem to choose difficult combinations of keys.

The fire button will let you use the weapon which you are currently carrying. Your weapon will defend you from the nasties which, although they won't kill you, will knock you from where you happen to be standing.

My favourite screen so far is a moon-like surface on level 20 , with pulsating bubbles floating to the surface. You can ride a bubble upwards, but it's not easy.

The cassette is turbo loaded and only takes a couple of minutes to load which should also cut down on piracy. If your tape deck isn't too hot, you may have problems. But as the tape's guaranteed for three years, YOU should be all right.

Sorry? Oh, my verdict'? Buy it, of course!

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

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Big K Issue 11, Feb 1985   page(s) 24

MAKER: Ultimate
FORMAT: cassette
PRICE: £9.95

A new Ultimate release. The very thought sends shivers down any sane reviewers spine. He knows that in the short time he is given to test the game there is no possible way he can explore its every facet, find every nuance of gameplay. He also know that, by the time his review sees print, ten billion smart-ass whizz-brats will have cracked the game and sent in highly-detailed maps of he whole play area, complete with strategies, which the soul-less Editor (may bats inhabit his word processor) will wave in front of him and demand to know why he didn't do it better. It's just not worth it, I tell you.

All I'm going to say is Underwurlde is a fabulous new game fro Ultimate. With wonderful graphics and lots and lots of incredible features. Don't miss it. So there. (That's not enough, worm. More - or the GCE Revision Packs await... Rev. Ed.)

Sigh. Oh well, Underwurlde is very good, actually. It features Sabreman, of Sabre Wulf fame, this time on safari through the Stygian depths where lurk all manner of demonic dangers. And, like Sabre Wulf, it owes much to Atic Atac for its style of gameplay. Yep, it's another graphic/arcadde/strategy/adventure game.

Once more Sabreman is travelling through a vast, interconnecting system of screens (over 60 are claimed) containing rooms, chambers, pits, wells, rocks, ledges and what-have-you. Every step of his journey is dogged by hordes of winged harpies and what look like flying jellyfish which swoop down hassling our hero's progress and generally using him as a human pinball. They can be destroyed but weapons have to be found, along with energy-giving gems. You rapidly grow to hate and curse the flying fiends. Frustration level on Underwurlde is exceedingly high. Remember, the Spectrum keyboard was not built to take heavy punishment.

Also along the way the Sabreman will meet monstrous guardians, ride volcanic bubbles, swing from ropes, avoid poisonous plants, falling rocks and stalactites and encounter mysterious chests of drawers.

As is by now traditional with Ultimate's epic arcade-adventures, the player is left to discover the majority of the game's features for him/herself. The barest of hints are given in the instructions - after which you're on your own. After your allotted lives are used up a percentage indicator informs you of how much of the game you penetrated. You grow to hate this as well.

At the end of the Sabreman's sojourn, according to the cryptic text, lies "... the Ultimate place of darkness" wherein lurks Old Tim = sorry, Nick himself and the only way of escape. I can believe it - I'll never see it - but I can believe it.

Graphics, sound, colour are all up to Ultimate's very high standards making this game good value for money. Animation is excellent, especially Sabreman's leaps and tumbles.

In the midst of all this general euphoria let me strike a chord of caution. Brilliant as Ultimate are at running out top quality software they are in danger of becoming something of a one-note company. Sabre wulf, Underwurlde and, to a certain degree, Knightlore are all cut from the same cloth as the highly successful Atic Atac. Naturally a company should build on success but not to the extent of ignoring popular gaming themes. I hope Ultimate's limited outlook will soon be broadened.

Now I return to Underwurlde in a vain attempt to unlock more of its secrets. If any kind soul (I really didn't mean what I said about whizz-brats) would like to help this humble reviewer escape his personal hell send in your tips, your maps, your hints, your cash... oops. (Enough vermin. Another new Ultimate game has arrived! Rev. Ed.) Aaargghh!!

Graphics: 3/3
Playability: 2/3
Addictiveness: 3/3
Overall: 3/3

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Personal Computer Games Issue 14, Jan 1985   page(s) 86,87,89

MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
CONTROL: Keys, Kemp, AGF, Sinc
FROM: Altimate, £9.95

Wham! Bounce! HELP...! Just three seconds of play and I'm head over heels. Literally. Because the nasties in this game don't kill you, they just bounce you around the screen. It's hilarious. It's brilliant. And the game itself plays and feels quite different to Sabre Wulf, or indeed to any other game around. You're sick of hearing it, folks, but it has to be said: Ultimate have done it again.

You could describe Underwurlde as a vast platform adventure game. Vast because there are over 500 locations. Platform because you have to do an awful lot of leaping to get anywhere. Adventure because the game involves exploring in search of weapons to destroy the evil guardians.

The first thing that strikes you is the animation of Sabreman himself. Make him jump and he soars into the air like a bird, arms outstretched, body gracefully angled. Collide with an object or a creature and he spins to the ground in an ungainly sprawl. It's magnificent programming.

And the creatures are just as good, with winged 'harpies', jellyfish-like creatures, gremlins and, in some locations, eagles which may pick you up and carry you through several screens away from your desired course.

Contact with any other creature will send you flying - sometimes this is just a nuisance, but in many of the screens, it means you get knocked off the platform you're standing on, fall just a bit too far and ... SPLAT.

If you're to have any hope of getting anywhere, you must find a weapon to keep those nasties at bay. Fortunately, there's a catapult available right at the start which can send out a spray of projectiles in the direction you're facing.

As you painfully bounce your way around you discover that the scenery is of two different kinds. There's the interior of what could be a castle, decorated with book-shelves, chests, eagles' crests, torches and other objects all of which double as platforms to leap onto Then there are screens of underground tunnels and caverns in which lines of bubbles drift gently upwards from numerous small volcanoes.

These bubbles are an essential means of transport. Jump onto one, and up you go with it - a refreshing change from platform leaping. Also in the caverns you can use a rope which automatically fastens itself to a cavern roof if you jump close enough to it - a brilliant touch.

Other features include a variety of gems which temporarily make you invulnerable, extra lives to be collected in the shape of mini-Sabremen, and the guardians themselves.

Once you've got past the third guardian, you have to try to find an exit from the Underwurlde. There are apparently three different exits, and finding just one won't be enough! I say no more.

What puts Underwurlde in a class above most other recent arcade-adventures is the way it plays. The action is incredibly hectic, yet wonderfully different. This is something to do with the fact that a single leap can carry Sabreman the entire width of a screen.

It's one of that tiny elite of games which you fall in love with in seconds, yet keeps you going for weeks.

However four criticisms are worth making:

- there is no high score table.

- once the game is solved, interest in it will fall off. This could be avoided to some extent by including a timer, so that one could try to complete it more quickly next time.

- Ultimate are still persisting with their strange control key layout. Why not have user-defined keys?

- some copies of the program appear to contain a bug which causes the ropes to stop working after a while. Ultimate insist only a few are affected and that these will be replaced.

Despite this, the game is another certain number 1 and another glossy chapter in the Ultimate success story.

Ultimate's latest shot in their bid for total domination of the world games market is a real knockout. Everything about this game is superb, not least its departure from the Atic Atac/Sabre Wolf formula.

Apart from the superb graphics, it's the animation of Sabreman that really impresses. His leaping mode of travel is novel and entertaining. The game had just about the right blend of frustration and progress and although it's difficult I always felt I had a chance of getting on. If only could do something about those harpies...


Ultimate have scored again. The original ideas, tremendous graphics, playability and sheer frustrating difficulty are all contained in ample measure.

Being bounced off monsters is annoying but merely drives you on to try even harder to succeed. Marvellous new touches like the bubbles and being bounced instead of killed show Ultimate's brilliance.


Sabre Wulf was a bit of a dog if you ask me, so I was hoping for something to restore my confidence in Ultimate here. I wasn't disappointed.

The graphics are superb, of course, but what really made the game for me was the action and the challenge presented.

The game combines excellent playability together with enormous challenge, a combination that had me hooked from the word go. I particularly liked the jumping action, which seems to combine the tactics of a platform game with shoot-
em-up elements as you fight off the baddies.


Notice: Array to string conversion in /_speccy_data/games/zxsr/zxsr.php on line 19 Blurb: Array

Graphics: 10/10
Sound: 7/10
Originality: 8/10
Lasting Interest: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Award: Personal Computer Games Game of the Month

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Micro Adventurer Issue 15, Jan 1985   page(s) 39


MICRO: Spectrum 48K
PRICE: £9.95
FORMAT: Cassette
SUPPLIER: Ultimate Play the Game, The Green, Ashby de la Zouche, Leicestershire, LE9 5JU

The classic dungeon adventure meets the shoot-em-up arcade game, in Ultimate's Underwurlde.

It's certainly fast! It will keep the most ardent arcade addict glued to their joysticks for many happy hours, and its graphics are among the best I've seen on the Spectrum for a long time.

The adventurer starts on the lowest and most noisome level of a vast underground maze of caves and dungeons. From that lowly beginning you have to fight your way up through level after level of dangerous territory, until you reach your goal, the topmost towers of the Castle of Darkness, far, far, above you. (The smart adventurer would map this one).

To stay alive you need to be a cross between Tarzan of the Apes and the Bionic man, as you swing, climb, jump, and trampoline your way from level to level. You can catch a lift on a beautifully animated and very wobbly bubble, or at least you can try! Or swing like a spider on its dragline, or scramble over the many pieces of furniture that litter the dungeons. They range from what looks like a Chippendale table to cuckoo clocks, and even potted palms, all beautifully drawn. But whatever you do, you're in constant danger from the many monsters that roam the mazes. Every level has a different set of monsters and you have to find a whole new set of weapons to kill them off.

You can check how much maze you've completed, at any time, on a percentage basis. Or stop/pause the game while you get your breath back - and you'll need to get your breath back.

It's a superfast multi-screen action adventure with very few drawbacks, and a great deal to recommend it. The drawbacks unfortunately include very poor sound effects; the monsters sound more like frightened mice than horrible nasties. The colours are a bit dingy, and it's so fast that there are times when a beginner's level at a slower speed would be a very welcome addition. Not all of us have bionic joystick fingers!

There is a small bug you can use to your adventuring advantage. Certain monsters, when they get close enough to kill you, just send you spinning off to the next level. Useful if you're feeling lazy! But you have to find the right monster, the wrong one will most certainly chew you up and spit out the pieces with the greatest gusto!

Underwurlde definitely gets my vote for fast action, entertainment, and superb graphics. I look forward to seeing Ultimate's next adventure. If it's up to this sort of standard, it should be well worth playing.

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: 98%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue 1, Jan 1985   page(s) 63

Spectrum 48K
Ultimate Play The Game
Arcade Adventure

Dropping into the Long Dark Palace on your way to freedom is just about as easy as negotiating a no-strings-attached pact with the devil. It could be well into 1985 before you have developed enough gremlin-zapping skills, a detailed knowledge of Underwurlde's vast labyrinth and tempered all that with a good deal of luck.

Underwurlde is an arcade adventure in the classic Ultimate mould. As in the horror movie The Amityville Horror, your sabreman's house seems to be a bijou residence in need of some modernisation - it's been built over a gateway to hell. Instead of rising damp, your basement is seeping all sorts of nasties, up for a night out from the Well of Evil.

With noisy neighbours like that, you can probably guess that escaping is not easy, especially as you have to go down to the devil's lair in order to climb up again to freedom.

You have a side-on view of the action, unlike Knight Lore's 3D angle or Atic Atac's ceiling perspective. So if you miss your footing you can watch as your man tumbles past gallery after gallery to his death. The correct technique to use if you don't want to squander valuable lives in the early part of the game is to lower yourself down by rope and rise up again on the giant bubbles of inert plasma. Magic gems make you invincible for short periods so they are worth grabbing whenever you can.

Weapons are absolutely indispensable if you want to make any progress at all. The catapult you find at the very start of the journey will only take you so far; you'll need daggers to cut your way past the guardians of the nether reaches of the Underwurlde.

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 18, Apr 1985   page(s) 96

Yes, yet another excellent game from Ultimate Play The Game. It is hard to imagine what will come next. Can they really beat the quality of this new genre of game?

This is what one would call an arcade adventure game, the only letdown being the key assignment. Q and W are used for left and right, R and E up and down, T for fire, any key on the first half of the bottom row to drop from the rope and any key on the second half of the bottom row to pick up or drop weapons. A fair improvement would have been to define your own keys as us arcadists do get accustomed to using certain keys. The usual joystick option applies, so if you have got one - USE IT.

You are unfortunate enough to be living in a house that has been built over the labyrinth of Hell. In this labyrinth, the task is to find the devil in his lair (the long dark palace) and then you will be beamed up to safety. An easy task? Not at all, as your travels are hindered by the devil's aides, fireballs, eagles, and gremlins to mention but a few. You can use various weapons, from a catapult to daggers, in the quest for your freedom.

If you happen to slip, then you see yourself fall down many levels to the bottom of the Underwulde and, unless you manage to land on one of the rising volcanic bubbles, a life is lost. When at the bottom, the only way to escape is to jump onto these bubbles, but there are many creatures who try to stop you gaining your freedom.

This is an excellent game, with some of the best animation that I have seen on the Spectrum with the guaranteed ULTIMATE quality.

Instructions: 80%
Addictability: 45%
Graphics: 100%
Value For Money: 95%
ZXC Factor: 9/10

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: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB