Underwurlde, Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 version of Ultimate‘s classic Underwurlde was developed by Softstone and published by Firebird in 1985. It is a faithful recreation of the Spectrum original.

You play as Sabreman, running and jumping his way through a huge maze of rooms and caves, looking for gems and weapons in order to kill the guardians that are guarding the exits to the ‘Underwurlde‘. Your ultimate aim (no pun intended) is to escape from the Underwurlde via these exits.

While Underwurlde is a much-loved and fondly-remembered game by Ultimate fans, it’s fair to say that it is incredibly frustrating to play, because spawning enemies bump into you all the time, knocking you to your doom. The enemies don’t kill you outright when they touch you, but falling too far will lose you a life, and when you’re being bumped around like a pinball it happens all the time. You can fall (and survive) about a screen-and-a-half in height. Any higher and the fall will kill you. Which is why the game is best played with cheats on. Either playing with no spawning enemies, or no fall damage, will greatly increase your enjoyment of the game, and thankfully the C64 version has a number of trainers available for it which allow you to do that.

If you’re a masochist you might prefer playing Underwurldeau naturel‘, but if you do that you’ve got to be prepared for a world of pain. How the developers ever thought that Underwurlde was ever finishable as released is beyond me, and I’ve never heard of anyone completing the game without using cheats. Which is a pity, because Underwurlde is both charming and beautifully programmed. Hell, I remember even buying the original Spectrum version as a kid and not complaining that it cost ten pounds to buy (a lot of money for a kid in 1985) and was barely playable. I guess that was the “cult of Ultimate“, of which I was a member. I’m reformed these days and can see right through the game now. It’s way too difficult for its own good.

Final note: when I took these screenshots I wasn’t using any cheats, but I did refer to a map and used emulator quicksaves, and managed to kill two of the guardians. Which is the furthest I’ve ever managed to get in the game. I got lucky with the placement of the first two weapons, but couldn’t find the third. My game still lasted a good couple of hours though. Completing Underwurlde is a seriously tough ask!

More: Underwurlde on Wikipedia

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