Sabre Wulf, Game Boy Advance

Yes: Rare actually re-made the classic Ultimate ZX Spectrum game, Sabre Wulf, and published it for the Game Boy Advance in 2004.

Sabre Wulf uses pre-rendered graphics in a similar way to Donkey Kong Country, and this time is basically a platform game, with simple challenges and chase sections. While the basic game is okay, the graphics I think are pretty poor and the story and dialogue are trite.

In this remake you of course take control again of the iconic Sabreman, only this time he’s been turned into a relic of the empire rather than a young explorer, and once again he’s up against the blue-coloured Sabre Wulf.

The Wulf usually steals an item of treasure from the current area, then digs a hole which you must follow him down. Once in the hole you must then platform your way to the Wulf’s lair, grab the stolen item, and then run back to the campsite with the Wulf in hot pursuit. If the Wulf touches you you have to start the level from scratch, that is: unless you’re wearing armour; in which case you can take a second hit.

Sabreman can find and use “Good” animals to help him reach the Wulf’s lair and these are introduced to you as you play. For example: the Lizard can be used as a platform to reach high up places (or block something bouncing up from below); the Blubber is a fat bear that you can use as a trampoline to jump higher, and the Boomer can explode things.

Avoiding contact with “Bad” animals is key on the outward journey, but the return chase removes all the hazards and requires you to memorise the route to outrun the chasing Wulf, which can run faster than you. This starts off easy but quickly becomes quite challenging as the route back becomes more complicated. The quicker you return to camp – the higher the value of the treasure you return with. These treasures can then be sold between levels to buy extra items.

After every level the Wulf digs another hole which you then go down and must complete until you unlock the Lab level. Complete that and you’ve completed an entire area, and then you collect a piece of the fabled ACG amulet and the next area unlocks.

The puzzles in Sabre Wulf are maybe too simple, and the gameplay may be too repetitive for this remake to be considered a success. The references to the classic Ultimate games are nice, but this game doesn’t really please fans of the original, or entice new players to play it, and comes across as weak in places, so fails to impress on a variety of levels. Which is a real pity. If they’d used 2D graphics instead of pre-rendered graphics; not been so lazy/childish with the plot/dialogue; not turned Sabreman into an Empirical toff, and not made the game so repetitive (without good reason), then it might have been a hit. As it stands: Sabre Wulf is little more than gaming fluff (when it should have been retro gaming gold). Sadly disappointing.

More: Sabre Wulf on Wikipedia

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