Monday, 9 February 2009

Knight Lore - ZX Spectrum

Now for something a little bit different. I've just managed to get my hands on a pristine copy of Knight Lore on the ZX Spectrum. Yes, I still have a working Spectrum in case you were wondering.

It was one of the first games I ever played on my humble Spectrum back in the Eighties and Ultimate: Play the Game's title has a very special place in my heart.

In 1984, Knight Lore's graphics were considered state of the art, and even today I think they look great. The technique used was called Filmation, and although isometric adventure 3D Ant Attack had appeared before it, Knight Lore's graphics had a solidity to them that hadn't been seen before.

Knight Lore featured Sabreman, Ultimate's hero from other ZX Spectrum classics such as Sabre Wulf and Underwurlde. Unfortunately, Sabreman had picked up a nasty curse on his adventures, which turned him into a werewolf at night.

The player had to explore the castle of the great wizard Melkhior, collecting objects such as bottles, gems and old boots. In the middle of the castle, Melkhior's cauldron bubbled away, and by dropping the relevant object into the cauldron, Sabreman would be one step nearer a cure for his lycanthropy.

As if gingerly picking your way through the castle wasn't a tough enough challenge, the player was also up against a tight time limit to complete the quest. If all the ingredients hadn't been found by the end of 40 days and nights, it would be curtains for Sabreman.

In his werewolf form, some rooms were deadly for Sabreman, which added a nice, if slightly frustrating, touch. Objects in your inventory could also be used as blocks, enabling you to get over previously impassable obstacles.

The castle was filled with deadly traps, spikes, bouncing bubbles, knights and ghosts, and every room was an individual puzzle.

Knight Lore might look crude by today's high standards, but it was incredibly influential, and games such as Ocean's classics Batman and Head Over Heels, Gargoyle's excellent Sweevo's World and the Solstice series - which appeared on the NES and Super Nintendo - would never have appeared if it wasn't for Ultimate's groundbreaking title.

Of course, Ultimate: Play the Game went on to become Rare, who have released other great games in recent years, such as Banjo Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini and Viva Pinata.

So while people gear up to play Killzone 2 and Street Fighter 4, I'm off to explore Melkhior's devious castle once again in the hope of finally completing a quest I started roughly 25 years ago.


Adrian said...

Didn't Ultimate games have opulent packaging for the time or something? Any chance of photos?

Kilted Moose said...

Ultimate's packaging from Sabre Wulf onwards was really nice. Big boxes and lovely instruction manuals.

Still hunting down some old classic Spectrum games. I know you can emulate them, but it's much more fun playing them on the original system.

I'll be covering more Spectrum games in the future.

Anonymous said...

I've still got Tir Na Nog kicking about somewhere. I remember it being far too much for my 10 year old self, yet I'd keep going back 'cos of that lovely box!