Archive for the 'Quest' Category

Underwurlde

Author: admin
December 5, 2010

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, thay 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 sich 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 knowcked 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 screns of underground tunnels and caverns in which lines of bubbles drift gently upwards from numerous small volcanos.

These bubbles are an essential means of transport. Jump onto on, 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 of. 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 pesisting 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.



Hydrofool

Author: admin
December 1, 2010

Sweevo’s World was on of the great underrated peculiar games of our time. Now we have Hydrofool which is funnier, cleverer and, if there is any justification in the world, destined to be not underrated but instead lurch to number one with a bullet.

There are not many 3D games set underwater, this is the first point in Hydrofool‘s favor. The graphics are marvellous, this is another. And it’s funny this is a third, the music on the 128K version is by Rob Hubbard – yet another – and well that’s enough to be getting on with.

Faster Than Light has effectively dispensed with plot on this one, the scoring system is beyond human calculation – all you need to know is that you are trapped inside a giant goldfish bowl looking for the various objects which will enable you to pull out the four plugs that will drain all of the water out of the bowl. On your way you do battle with assorted denisons of the deep including an extremely cute baby whale and some extremely aggressive seahorses. Other elements include garden gnomes, these can be collected to advantage and spoons. The spoons appear to be a means of attack but whenever I chuck them at the fish they seem to be singularly unimpressed.

The central hero of Hydrofool is again, Sweevo, although clad in a diving suit he looks very much how I always imagined Gollum from “Lord of the Rings” looked. Bumbing fish and generally the time spent in the water causes rust. This is measured by a rustometer at the bottom of the screen. Rust can be resisted collecting cans of Oil. This is logical in a way – as logical as anything else in this game.

Movement between screens is up via a passing bubble or down via a whirpool. In the best traditions of 3D games some rooms are seemingly impassible, others contain hidden secrets or are themselves hidden. The bubbles are not merely lifts – as you enter a room you gradually sing to the floor. Sometimes to get past through obstacles you’ll need to leap on to a lesser bubble – these only travel up half the screen or so before bursting but hitching a ride gives you enough height to over passing stalegmites and rocks.

The graphics are superb – particularly if you like fish – large, smoothly animated and detailed. Unlike most 3D games, rooms in Hydrofool do not reset when you go in and out – no chance to correct mistakes – worse still, sometimes the gigantic fish you managed to avoind in the previous screen follows you through a conveniently placed porthole and comes after you.

There are various problems to be solved – some exits remain closed awaiting some special action (but what?), there are various weapons scattered around but few of them seem to be serious death-ray quality. Sometimes useful objects are effectively guarded by a monster fish – you need to skewer it somehow.

The music on 48K is passable blips (and nasty fairground music at the beginning) and the 128K stuff by Rob Hubbard is excellent although more jovial and less funky than some of his previous work. The game is an absolute winner.



Nosferatu The Vampyre

Author: admin
November 24, 2010

A three part arcade adventure designed to strike terror into your very hearts. Nosferatu The Vampyre online is a game about vampires based specifically on Fassbinder’s film of the same title but the actual plot seems to have more in common with Bram Stoker’s original Dracula than anything else.

Part one sees you, Jonathan Harker trying to recover the deeds to a house that you inadvertantly left lying around the Count’s castle. At the same time, you are trying to escape the clutches of the various bats and spiders that lurk within. In part 2, you control three characters as you try to lure Nosferatu into Lucy’s house, at the same time making sure that you protect Lucy at all costs as she is the only one who can kill the vampire. To do that, she will need a stake and as there are none to hand, you must also find some way of manufacturing one. The final part sees you playing Lucy as you try to kill Nosferatu. Unfortunately, your two friends are not aware of the situation so you must lock them up out of harm’s way.

The game uses 3-D filmation type graphics and are some of the larest and clearest ones used to date, the only annoying feature being the way that the rooms change color to denote the passage of time. There are objects to be discovered to protect you from the various evil beasties – guns, boots, lamps and crossess. The attention to detail is excellent and I particularly liked the way some of the furniture can be manipulated to help you – the ladders in the library for example.

At the bottom of the screen is a window showing the time of day for you can only escape during daylight hours. As you come into contact with the rats or whatever, so a coffin starts to appear depicting our loss of strength. Fortunately, food and water is at hand to reduce the effects.

This is yet another example of where the licensed title adds absolutely nothing to the atmoshpere of the game. There is no particular feeling of terror imparted – certainly no more than in any of the hundreds of other arcade adventures currently available. Certainly, the graphics are impressive but that is not enough and the odd niggle such as poor instructions, no warning given to stop the tape for loading subsequent parts of the game. Nevertheless this Piranha’s effort in surely not the worst and has some unique small elements marking it out of many other isometric products on the market.



Three Weeks In Paradise

Author: admin
October 31, 2010

Download Three Weeks In Paradise Remake

Everyone loves Wally. And when his family (Wilma and little Herbert are kidnapped by hungry natives while the Week family are on holiday in the Scilly isles – where else? – everyone will want to help Wally rescue them. Won’t they?

Sure they will! And Wally could win over yet more fans with this graphically impressive arcade adventure. Three Weeks In Paradise follows closely the Wally-game tradition. Wally has to wander around the desert island finding objects, picking them up and using them to solve many taxing problems and puzzles.

Wally himself seems to have added a few extra inches to his beer-belly and wanders around just a bit more slowly – but that won’t bother you as there’s lots to marvel at on every screen.

Graphics are as colorful and varied as ever – they appear bigger and bolder than previous Wally epics.

The jungle is populated by many animals – including lions, crocodiles, nasty insects and deadly bats. There’s also the horrible Can Nibbles tribe who kidnap Wilma and Herbert and plan to turn them into TV dinners unless Wally can come to the rescue in time.

Below the main playing screen you’ll find the objects that Wally is carrying – he can hold two items at a time, the number on Wally’s left – you begin with four, the nibble-status of Wilma and Hebert plus a picture which gradually forms as you play which could end up showing something horrible – or nice. Let us know which!

For the first time you are able to change Wally’s color to avoid any nasty color clash on the really colorful screens.

The graphics are the closest to the fabled “cartoon quality” yet to be seen on the good old Spectrum. The jungle screens are really impressive.

Animation of Wally and other characters is above standard. The tune gets a bit irritating after a while, but you can switch it off and just listen to the sound effects if you like.



Knight Lore

Author: admin
October 30, 2010

Download Knight Lore Remake

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 wizaard 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-honored 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 download 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 colors to concentrate on the detalis, 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 a 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, ore when in his wolf from, ocassionally snarling quietly to himself.

A little moving indicator at the bottom of the screen shows you the position of the sun and the moon, and when the moon rises Sabreman goes through his metamorphosis into an animal. This can be very discouraging 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 download, because the castle plan is different every time you play, although the relationship of the 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 tot save the world? We can only wait.



Atic Atac

Author: admin
October 30, 2010

Download Atic Atac Remake

If you have heard Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album, and seen the video, you might like to play the game: Atic Atac. It is one of the spookiest, most action-packed, shoot-’em-uppiest programs yet to be seen on a Spectrum.

You are cast as the hero of the piece, and can choose roles. Your choice, knight, wizard or serf, determines which set of secret passages are open to you, the appearance of your computerised alter-ego, and weapons for azapping beasties with. Once this is done, and you have decided whether to use a joystick or the keyboard, you are beamed-down into the front room of a grand and spooky old house.

At this stage the best thing to do is to explore the house, finding your way around and memorising escape routes. But beware: the doors that guard the entrances to the rooms that you travel through, are liable to slam shut, without warning, leaving you trapped. When this happens, time marches on, your food supply situation, as indicated by the gradually devoured chicken on the right of the screen, diminishes, and worsk of all, the haunting begins.

All manner of foul creatures appear to haunt you, they look like they have escaped from the chamber of horrors. By zapping them with your trusty weapon, you send them packing, back to the other side from whence they came, but more to the point, you score.

Atic Atac combines elements of adventure with those of arcade games in a very original way. You need the red key to pass through red door and must eat food to stop yourself from passing away prematurely due to hunger. The layout of the house is consistent, and so as you play the game more and more, you begin to find your way around. A number of real terrors, such as Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula and the Devil all appear and can give you quite a hard time.

The ultimate aim in Atic Atac is to find the key to the front door, and to escape to freedom, presumably this happens only when you have explored every room in the building, which is not easy, but becomes progressively more likely the longer you practise. When the third reincarnation of yourself on the screen finally bites the dust, your final score is displayed along with an indication of the percentage of the house which you actually visited. All in all, Atic Atac is one of the most impressive games I have yet seen on the Spectrum, but do not play it after midnight.



Sabre Wulf

Author: admin
October 28, 2010

Ultimate seems to have gained a unique reputation among Spectrum owners.

Ever since the arrival of Jet Pac, SInclair fans everywhere have rushed out to their computer shops to buy Ultimate games, turning them into top sellers.

After Jet Pac, including conversion for the Vic, came Atic Atac and it’s still selling well.

However nothing had been heard for a long from Ultimate‘s Ashby HQ since Atic Atac was launched. And finally Sabre Wulf was released.

It’s a graphic arcade adventure game, which is another way of saying that it’s similar in style to Atic Atac. Sabre Wulf is one of those maze games where you move through an area, much bigger than the screen is capable of showing.

So the display scrolls in four directions, a whole screen at a time. If you disappear off one side of the display, it will be redrawn instantly to show your new position. If you go off the right hand side, you will be on the left of the new display.

Previous reviewers of Ultimate‘s software have usually ended their articles by saing that Ultimate have achieved as much detail in their graphics as the Spectrum is capable of.

Sabre Wulf goes to prove just how mistaken those reviewers, including myself, really were. I have never seen graphics of such high quality on a Spectrum as presented by Sabre Wulf.

When you load the game and have selected the initial options, you start on the first screen. This is remarkably similar to Atic Atac and I wondered at first whether this was just another version of an old game.

I happened to mention this to the manager of my local computer shop and he agreed with me. If people see this game for the first time while they happen to be standing at the computer counter in W. H. Smith, he said, then they may see it load, think that it’s nothing new and walk away without looking further.

The game appears to be set in a jungle. I assume that it is, although the word “jungle” is never actually mentioned in the cryptic instructions which come with the cassete.

Your task, it appears, is to free yourself from this strange place in which you have become lost. To do this, you must explore all the area around you. You can get some clues as to your ultimate (sorry!) goal by reading the strange rhyme on the instruction card. It goes like this:

    Thy path is long so tread with care.
    Beware the Wulf and pass his lair.
    Danger threatens all around
    So take ye from his hidden mound.
    To free tree from this sunken gate
    By way of cave or meet thy fate.
    An amulet to seek thy will,
    ‘Twas split by quad and hidden still
    Pass the keeper wrought with hate
    The pieces lost must thee amass
    For if no charm than none shall pass.
    Hmmm.

So the idea is to collect the four pieces of a charm (another word for amulet) which are hidden around the area of play. We managed to find one of them and my top score currently stands at around 17 percent.

By now you’re probably wondering why the game’s so hard. Wandering around a maze isn’t really that difficult. But you are not alone in your quest. There’s a strange variety of other creatures in that there jungle. Some are helpful and will give you extra points or lives, while some will cause your instant death.

Your character is that of a small explorer. You are initially colored while, but certain events will have a drastic effect on your color. If you turn red for a few moments, then you are immune to all enemies and you can wander to your heart’s content without fear of being splatted. There’s one thing better than being red, though, and that’s being blue. When you’re blue, not only are you immune to torture but you also travel at twice the speed of your red counterpart.

Other animals which you’ll encounter on your safari are tarantulas, scorpions, snakes, fruit bats and more. There’s also a strange vicious creature called the Sabre Wulf, which is lucky, really, otherwise they wouldn’t know what to call the game.

Your weapon against the cruel world of nature is a sword. Pressing the Fire button on the joystick will activate your sword and you have a high chance of surviving. You have to hit an animal straing on to be in with a chance of killing it, though, so timing those corners is crucial.

But it’s the graphics which make up the playing screen that really make the game worth every penny. The detail the animals themselves and in their movement continue to make Ultimate number one among the Spectrum software houses.



Sceptre Of Bagdad

Author: admin
October 27, 2010

A chubby Caliph in the Middle East is having a spot of bother. On the first day of each year he must produce the “Sceptre of Bagdad” to show his people that he is fit to govern their land. However, on one such occasion the Caliph has woken early, feeling decidedly strange. After a quick bodily perusal he discovers that he has shrunk to tiny proportions. Desperately he climbs from his bed, and clambers up to the Magic Lamp that sits upon his dressing table.

Vigorously rubbing it, he awakens and consults his Magic Genie. In anwer to his questions, the ever helpful phantom tells him that he is the victim of a spell, cast by a wicked wizard. The Caliph’s home has now been turned into a puzzlesome palace of shark infested rivers, burning deserts and seemingly impenetrable barriers.

The Sceptre is at the far end of the palace, if it is not reached within the ordained time tha Caliph’s reign wil come to a premature end. The Genie promises to help, but his aid is limited to advice as he cannot leave the lamp. Therefore the Caliph begins his quest alone.

The corpulent ruler can move left and right, jump upwards and pass through doors and other entrances. Objects found en route are collected by simply walking over them. Only two objects can be carried at once, the last acquired being displayed at the bottom of the screen. An inventory of items carried isaccessed by pressing the space bar.

Sections of the palace and its grounds can only be crossed if the Caliph is in possession of certain objects – the coconut is needed to cross the desert, but the sling and pearl are first required to get the coconut!

The Genie gives a cryptic but useful clue when his lamp is rubbed with the hankie. His patience is limited though – rub too hard and you end up with a clean lamp and no additional information. If all of this wasn’t bad enough, the poor Caliph finds that his palace has been infested by vicious creatures and monsters. Should these beasts touch him, the podgy ruler’s life force is diminished until he eventually loses one of his three lives. Turbans at the bottom right of the screen depict the Caliph’s remaining lives.

A reincarnation potion is hidden in the palace, saving the player’s position when drunk. This position can then be returned to by selecting the “Old Game” option on the main menu.

Sceptre of Bagdad has pushed Atlantis into the world of big time budget software. There are a lot of problems to be solved, but thankfully this process has to be carried out logically. The graphics are very attractive and colorful, and though there are problems in this area, they’re not bad enough to put you off. The only thing that this superb product lacks is a decent title tune – so, Sceptre of Bagdad is a steal.



Pyjamarama

Author: admin
October 18, 2010

Download Pyjamarama Remake

It’s no joke being a Wally. You get these strange nightmares, you see – about being unable to wake up to go to work and being trapped in a house where everything has grown to an enormous size. Either that or you’ve been shrunk. Whichever – it still means you are in for a hard time!

Pyjamarama game must be Micro-Gen‘s best program so far. The graphics are great and the playability unquestioned. You take on the role of Wally Week, the hero of several Micro-Gen games.

This time Wally is fast asleep and dreaming horrible dreams. Your job, as Wally’s miniaturised spirit form, is to take him up in time for work. To do this you must find Wally’s alarm clock and wind it up. Easy, eh? No!

You have to travel around a maze of beautifully drawn rooms full of strange hazards – like snapping scissors and roast chickens out for vengeance on the person who stuffed them. It would be unfair to compare this game to Jet Set Willy – but as people will inevitably do this, I’d like to say I think it is better.

Wally moves about his nightmare world collecting – and dropping – objects. Just as in Adventure, he needs certain objects at certain times to complete the various tasks he needs to complete before reaching the final goal – waking the deeply sleeping real Wally up in time for work.

In many cases, you’ll need to collect one object in order to succeed in picking up another – and Wally’s spirit form can only carry two things at a time. To swap objects, Wally simply moves over the one he wants – and the one he drops is left behind. Getting exactly the right combination will take some time – longer than I had to get this review for you that’s for sure.

There are many rooms in the house – my favorite is the video games room. Enter it and you are confronted with a bunch of hostile scissors which descend from the ceiling space, invader style. Wally can blast them. If he gets all the scissors, some more roast chickens – or are they turkeys? – appear to plague him.

At the top of the screen there’s a glass of milk which displays your snooze energy. You can replenish the glass by picking up items of food which appear at various placess around Wally’s dream house.

You get three lives to play with. Use them all up and you get an encouraging messages from the management plus a percentage score and the number of places Wally has walked.

Pyjamarama game is a little gem which will keep you amused for weeks if not months. Make sure Santa sticks one in your stocking this Christmas!



Where Time Stood Still

Author: admin
October 11, 2010

Download Where-Time-Stood-Still Dos Version (runs with DOSBox)

A million years in the making (it feels like), Where Time Stood Still has been well worth the wait. The pixies from Denton Design have pulled out all the stops to make this a game as graphically stunning as it is challenging.

Weep and gnash your teeth, 48K owners, as you realize that the game runs only in 128K. Blub as you resolve youself to never seeing the giant, fast-scrolling play area, never hearing the spiffy music and sound effects, never knowing the excitement of working out how to get past the Tentacle of Doom on the secret causeway…

For this-animated arcade adventure, so sophisticated that it’s more like watching a film than playing a computer game, is the best thing to hit the Spectrum since hot fudge sundares. (Don’t they gum up your sproggets? – GT). Descended from 3-D romps like Movie, The Great Escape and Hewson’s Pyracurse, Where Time Stood Still strikes an excellent balance between strategy, arcade action, cartoon-style adventure and gritty realism.

Out of the skies plunges a crippled plane. Steel-jawed pilot Jarret manages to wrestle it to a crash-landing, but the plane is wrecked and its passengers stranded in a strange valley deep in the Himalayas. As the game opens you see your party of four standing by the wrecked plane. The landscape of rocks, trees and undergrowth is shown in glorious monochrome, and below the big pic are some simple displays; a small portrait of the character you currently control, three bar graphs showing strength, food, ammunition and your score, a calendar, and a day/night display. As you play the game, you’ll see the calendar flip; at night-time, the scenery turns a twilight blue.

Initially, you control the pilot Jarret. If he gets killed off, you can assume control industrialist; Gloria, his delicate daughter; or Dirk, Gloria’s bit of stuff.

Pressing the space bar brings up a window which allows you to select the character you want to control, by moving a pointer over their portrait and pressing fire. You can pick up this menu and reposition it anywhere on the screen if it’s obscuring the action. Further windows allow you to switch on or off the funky game music; to pause; or to quit. Strangely, there isn’t a game save.

The last window is the object handler. You’ll want to salvage as much as you can from the wrecked plane; food, water and a rope are a good start. Just select the character you want to pick up and the object(s), all of which appear on the object menu; press fire over the object, and move it to the upper part of the menu. When you want to use the object, you carry out of the same process in reverse and click on th USE icon.

Once you start moving around you’ll find that the background scrolls pleasingly quickly in all four directions. Press fire and you’ll break into a run; stand still and press fire, and you control pilot Jarret and the other characters follow you around. You’ll soon find, though, that the others have characters of their own. Gloria starts to flag quickly, and speech bubbles appear bearing messages like, “I’m tired”, or, “I’m hungry”. It’s best to stop for a rest and a bit of feed to restore your eneargy if this happens. You’ll soon find, though, that hunger is the least of your problems. GASP! with horror as a giant pterodactyl swoops from the skies and snatches Gloria to her doom! SHAKE! with fear as the Tyrannosaurus-Rex chases you! QUAKE! with terror as the rickety rope bridge collapses beneath your very feet!

Each of these challenges presents you with a test of your quick thinking, and some traps require even more skill. For instance, you can cross the monster-infested river by sticking to the lilypads, but you must keep moving or you sink. Step too near the edge and a horrid tentacle snatches you to a watery doom.

As you progress (making a map as you go, I’d suggest) you come across mountainous mazes hemmed in by lethal ravines, villages filled with spear-throwing natives, fast-running rivers, deadly mantraps and strange monsters. And that’s only in the first five minutes.

If your leadership is bold and successful, the other characters will follow you faithfully. But dither or get lost, and the others wll get fed up, and announce their intention to go off on their own. It’s unlikely that they’ll survive without help – but then, neither will you.

The great thing about Where Time Stood Still is that Denton have managed to include some stunningly sophisticated playing features, without making their usual mistake of concentrating more on the frills than on the game itself.

Cancel all plans for the next fortnight. Lock yourself in your room and prepare to play the most exciting game you’ve ever seen on the Spectrum.