Nightshade, Amstrad CPC

The Amstrad CPC conversion of Ultimate‘s Nightshade was first released in 1985. While it does benefit from some extra colours in the sprites and backgrounds, it does lack colour overall. Unlike the Spectrum original the buildings are not colour-coded, and the player character (a unnamed knight) doesn’t change colour depending on his infection level, which is slightly disappointing. The Amstrad version does look a bit weird, in terms of its use of colour. Filmation games usually look better on the Amstrad, but not in this case; it looks a bit jaundiced with its dominant yellow and orange colour scheme.

For those who’ve never played Nightshade before, the game is a scrolling isometric exploration game with a plague theme. You walk around a large town (called Nightshade), collecting antibodies from houses, and you use these to throw at the lesser monsters which constantly spawn and harass you. Depending on which antibody you fling at them (there are four different kinds), it will either destroy them, change them into something else, or clone them into two monsters (which you want to avoid doing).

Located randomly somewhere in the town are four ‘boss’ monsters (skeleton, ghost, grim reaper, and mad monk) and these each require a specific special weapon to destroy them (hammer, book, hourglass, and crucifix respectively).

On the downside: there’s a horrible, piercing sound effect when the fire appears, and the game plays slower than the original too, slowing down considerably when buildings draw in on the screen.

The Amstrad conversion of Nightshade is not a great conversion overall; in fact it’s a bit of a failure. In part, it’s down to the machine’s (lack of) colour capabilities, and also because the programmer wasn’t able to prevent it slowing down too much. If I was going to play this game I would choose either the Spectrum original or the MSX version, both of which are faster and more colourful.

More: Nightshade on Wikipedia

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