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Knight Lore

Ultimate (1984)

Synopsis

Bitten by a werewolf, you're an adventurer who needs to find a cure for this lunacy within the dark castle. You'll meet some creepy adversaries on the way, but the wizard can guide you back to health.

Chase cars and bite the mailman!


Graphics

Pros:

Clean minimalistic graphics and smooth sprite animations.


Cons:

Slow down of animations when the screen gets busy.





Sound

Pros:

Some decent sound effects to complement certain animations.


Cons:

The retrograde notes as you move or turn becomes irritating very quickly.





Gameplay

Pros:

Challenging and entertaining throughout.


Cons:

Slow down on busy screens, and character can get lost behind static foreground objects.




Graphics

Pros:

Faster than the Amstrad and Spectrum versions.


Cons:

Still a little slow down from time to time.





Sound

Pros:

Available for animations.


Cons:

But at the very basic level.





Gameplay

Pros:

Plays very well.


Cons:

As per the Amstrad.




Graphics

Pros:

Wonderful artwork for the Spectrum.


Cons:

Lower resolution offers grainier detail by comparison.





Sound

Pros:

On par with the BBC.


Cons:

It sounds like someone's pulverising the life out of a dog toy!





Gameplay

Pros:

Unrivalled gameplay on the Speccy for the time.


Cons:

Again, comparable to the Amstrad version.



It's Time For A Change!




When it came to video games in 1984, there seemed to be no shortage of releases that completely raised the bar. Elite and Impossible Mission, for example, are two of the finest games to have emerged from that year. And then there was Knight Lore.


Give me a ring sometime!

This was one of those beautifully boxed games that you proudly held in your hands as you walked home eagerly from the computer shop to play and then call on your friends to gloat afterwards.


Ultimate's newest offering, no doubt a by-product of the phenomenally successful Thriller, was so impressive that they delayed its release by a year to prevent overshadowing their then unreleased 'lesser' titles. Owing to their latest 'Filmation' game engine technology, much more could be done to interact with objects within an isometric 3D setting, which they utilised first in Knight Lore.

...the most immersive character-driven game I'd played...

You play the part of an adventurer known as the sabreman who's controllable via 4-directional movement. Your mission is based in a dark castle where you move from room to room trying to avoid all manner of spooky entities, guards, and spiky balls whilst searching for a wizard. He has a cauldron that provides a clue as to the object you need to find within the castle. Once you've done this enough times, the amalgamation of these objects in the cauldron will enable you to remove a curse that's currently turning you into a werewolf at nightfall.


What do you mean, "It's a trap?"

You have forty in-game days to complete this task, which is indicated by the presence of the sun/moon phasing in and out. On the cusp of these transitions your character undergoes his transformation from sabreman to werewolf and vice versa, however these can be particularly annoying if you're precariously stood somewhere unable to move whilst an enemy makes a bee-line towards you.


If you're using the Spectrum's keyboard then navigational matters aren't straightforward. You have one key for turning sabreman on the spot 90°, one key for moving him forward, and one more key to make him jump. Whilst it isn't the worst set up, it takes some getting used to and feels stilted. The BBC version allows the cursor keys to be used instead, which makes a lot more sense. Amstrad users also lost out with the controls when the game was ported over from the cursor-deprived Spectrum.


The only other real concerns with the game is that when there's anything going on within the room, even on a fairly small scale, the gameplay tends to slow down quite considerably only to then suddenly speed up once a sprite finishes moving, for instance. Also, the perspective sometimes plays tricks with how you align your character. You think you're about to jump into a gap only to then fall plumb on top of a deadly spike.


Been Wolf

However, my jaw dropped when I first played Knight Lore, and it immediately became the most immersive character-driven game I'd played up to that point just down to the sheer groundbreaking detail of the rooms, plus the puzzles that lay within. It was also awesome to have the ability to manipulate objects, such as tables, by pushing them into place to climb onto and ascend to higher ground. The isometric 3D rooms were a refreshing change, with the mainly monochrome colour surprisingly not cramping the style of the game (Get Dexter achieved so much more in this regard having had the benefit of a few extra years for improvement).


What's particularly barmy is that all of the systems really held their own with Knight Lore. The slow-down in gameplay is a little unnerving, however, and I'd have loved to have seen how the Commodore 64 would've confronted this. Unfortunately for owners of a C64, that version was kiboshed. However, for the Amstrad, BBC, and Spectrum owners, a classic was born.




Graphics

Monochrome but tastefully done. The CPC provides the smoothest detail and additional colouring.


Sound

Sounds are limited to garish footsteps, jumps, and turning on the spot.


Gameplay

Some rooms are plain simple, and then there's most of the others!


Overall

A formidable entry that forever set the standards for isometric 3D games.




Comments

Platform Winners

Overall Ranking

90

5th Place

Our 3rd best game of 1984

Our lowest rated isometric 3d game

Screenshots

...click here to enlarge

ROMs

Amstrad: download
Spectrum: download

Pixel8Games'pick of 1984

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