Knight Lore, Atari 8-Bit

This conversion of the classic Knight Lore was ported to the 8-bit Atari by Krzysztof Dudek, Mario Krix, and Michal Radecki in 2008. And it’s another somewhat disappointing conversion, to be honest.

What I find frustrating about these homebrew conversions is how the programmers sometimes decide to change things to the detriment to the game, and don’t seem to realise that their choices are bad…

In this conversion, for example, the developers have not bothered to colourise the rooms (they’re all cyan on blue), and when Sabreman turns into a wolf (which happens at the end of every day, when the moon comes out) the game goes into black and white mode with white rooms on a grey background. While I understand the developers maybe wanting to indicate that the game is now in night mode, they could’ve (and should’ve) done it some other way – or not bothered at all – because the game looks and plays poorer for it, and it also makes it less obvious where you are in the maze. The coloured rooms helped give an indicator of your location, and I don’t think the people who ported this knew that when they decided to implement these changes… To me, they’re just unnecessary and frustrating. The people who ported this really weren’t being as clever as they thought they were when they made it…

A couple of other things I noticed that didn’t seem right: 1. the day/night cycle speed seems too fast in this. One cycle lasts twelve seconds in an empty room (I timed it using a stopwatch). In the original Spectrum version I timed one cycle at 18 seconds in an empty room. And 2. the animation when Sabreman turns into a wolf is too short. In the Spectrum version he changes/spasms eight times when transforming; in this port he changes/spasms just four times… Why the discrepancy?! It really isn’t part of the remit of the developer to change things when porting over classic games like this – especially if it makes the game poorer for it! In fact: the devs should be striving to replicate Knight Lore *AS IS* for the most part. That means: having rooms that are colour coded and adhere to the colour coding of the original map (and I don’t mean using the same colours as the Spectrum version; but at least flagging certain rooms a certain colour – as they did in the excellent C64 conversion), and NOT MESSING with the animations, and also trying to at least match the day/night cycle rates.

This conversion I believe used the BBC Micro version as its basis, but – in my opinion – the BBC version is much better than this. It at least stuck to the colour coding of the original and has the correct number of transformation spasms. This conversion is frankly not good enough and I’m sure someone out there could do much better.

While you might think I’m nit-picking, isn’t the exercise here to port these classic games as closely as possible? The 8-bit Atari is capable of colour-coding rooms on the map, as can be seen in the homebrew port of Alien 8, so why make every room use the same colour scheme? And if the argument is “we wanted the bottom panel to be a different colour” then that’s a poor excuse as it’s completely unnecessary. Sorry, I’m not having it, and neither should you.

Knight Lore on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Famicom Disk System, Commodore 64

More: Knight Lore on Wikipedia
More: Knight Lore on fandal.cz

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