Ultimate Play the Game‘s isometric platform adventure, Pentagram, was never officially released for the Commodore 64, so fans took it upon themselves to convert it themselves, some thirty years after its original release. This port was released in 2017 by Rod & Emu.
The more I play Pentagram, the more I can see that it wasn’t created by the original Ultimate team. The gameplay; the puzzles; the traps; the way things work are not what I would expect from an Ultimate game. It bears the name of Ultimate, but it’s missing the flair and humour of Ultimate.
This C64 conversion is a little confusing to play because of the control system, which unfortunately you cannot change. Jumping doesn’t work as it normally does in a Filmation game. You press down to jump, fire to shoot a bolt of magic, and space to pick things up. Anyone used to the directional controls of Knight Lore and Alien 8 will be confused by this until they get used to it.
Another annoying feature are the ghosts, spiders, zombies, and witches that spawn in each room. What are they all about? It’s difficult to see where they are in relation to you; they kill you if they touch you, and they also bump into movable items, sometimes messing-up your preparations as you try to reach a high-up platform. Maybe it was the developers trying to inject a bit of Atic Atac or Sabre Wulf into this game, but it doesn’t work very well in Pentagram. You can at least fire a bolt of energy, though, which will zap these spawning meanies and earn a few meaningless points. Because it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where these sprites are in 3D space it does make shooting them more guesswork than anything else. What the developers should have done is put shadows on the ground directly underneath them, to help you figure out where they are in relation to you.
Also: in many rooms I couldn’t see what the ‘puzzle’ was. There were platforms and traps in the room, but seemingly no items. There are also dead-end empty rooms. What is the point of them? Pentagram seems like a half-hearted attempt at making a Filmation game, rather than an Ultimate game.
Pentagram unfortunately has all the hallmarks of having been designed by people who were far less talented than the original Ultimate team, which means that the game is nowhere near as much fun to play as Knight Lore, Alien 8, or Gunfright. It’s not a bad game or conversion, though, although it could’ve done with a few more options to tweak on the configuration screen.
More: Pentagram on Wikipedia
More: Pentagram on CSDb
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