Created by Jose Pereira, Miker, and Mariuszw in 2016, this Atari -8-bit homebrew conversion of Ultimate‘s Pentagram is not a bad effort overall. It seems to run slightly faster than the ZX Spectrum original, although it’s probably fair to say that it also inherits its shortcomings.
Pentagram is an isometric platform adventure game featuring a wizard who must complete two main tasks. The first is to collect buckets from wells (you shoot the wells with your magic a few times and the bucket appears) and restore four eroded monoliths by dropping water on them (the buckets contain water, obviously). After you’ve completed that task a pentagram will appear somewhere in the maze, which leads to your second main task – finding five magic runestones hidden within the maze, and taking them to the pentagram.
While Pentagram is an okay game, it isn’t (and never was) a classic Ultimate game, and playing it is a rather joyless experience. It has nostalgic appeal, but personally I was never one for playing a game for nostalgic reasons. A game is either playable and enjoyable to play, or it isn’t. It doesn’t matter how old it is, or what it reminds me of.
The good thing about this fan conversion is that it doesn’t seem to have inherited any new problems during translation (unlike the Atari 8-bit fan conversion of Alien 8 which was ruined by a lack of attention to detail), so it is at least faithful to the original. Atari gamers might enjoy playing it for a while, but completing the game is extremely difficult (if not impossible) without cheats. If you want to cheat, press ‘t’ on the title screen to activate trainer mode.
Final note: the link to download the disk file below takes you to a page which states that Chris and Tim Stamper were the authors of Pentagram, which even those with a passing interest in Ultimate history know to be false. The Stampers sold Ultimate to US Gold in 1985 and Ultimate‘s final four games (this, Cyberun, Martianoids, and Bubbler) were made by people under the commission of US Gold. The actual developers (at the time of writing) are unknown. There’s so much disinformation on the internet, written by people who can’t be bothered to fact check, that this has to be said. Which is sad really.