By the time Pentagram came out in 1986, famous development and publishing house – Ultimate Play The Game – had been sold off to US Gold. How much of Pentagram was therefore down to Ultimate‘s designers, and how much was down to US Gold‘s programmers, is still a matter for debate. Most likely, Pentagram was a construct of US Gold, with Ultimate providing only the initial ideas, graphics and game engine (the famous Filmation Engine).
Knight Lore for the Famicom Disk System was developed by Tose Co. Ltd. for Jaleco with the blessing of its original creators, Rare. It was published only in Japan in 1986.
The MSX version of Knight Lore was developed by Tose Co. Ltd. for Jaleco and published in Europe and Japan in 1985.
It is pretty much identical to the original ZX Spectrum version, complete with slowdown. That said: if you run it on a more powerful MSX computer it outstrips the Speccy original in terms of performance.
Knight Lore is a legendary game – whatever platform you play it on – and the MSX version is no exception.
The Amstrad CPC version of Ultimate‘s famous Knight Lore is the best-looking version, in my opinion.
The Amstrad‘s extra colours in high res mode make all the difference and it gives the look of the game an extra dimension. It also makes figuring out where you are on the screen a little easier.
Amstrad Knight Lore still suffers from slowdown – I think all the 8-bit version do – but it’s almost like it’s a deliberate feature… Meaning: that if the game didn’t slow down during some scenes they would be almost impossible to beat.
What am I talking about? Knight Lore is impossible to beat. Well, almost. 🙂
Legendary developer Ultimate Play The Game gave good support to the BBC Micro, releasing many of their iconic games on the platform.
This Beeb conversion of the classic Knight Lore is arguably better than the original ZX Spectrum version, because it doesn’t suffer quite so badly from slowdown. Graphically, it’s still monochromatic, like the original.
Knight Lore is a brilliant game, however you play it. Sabreman turning into a werewolf mid jump is always hilarious…
Another isometric action adventure from Ultimate Play The Game, this one with a Wild West theme.
Gunfright was first released in 1985 and uses the Filmation II Engine as first seen in Nightshade.
You play a sheriff in a small town called Black Rock who must hunt and kill a gang of outlaws who are hiding in it.
The game starts with a minigame – a shooting gallery type game – where money can be earned by shooting falling bags. The money can then be used to buy ammunition.
The main part of the game is similar to Nightshade – exploring an isometric, scrolling environment. Residents wander the streets and some are even helpful and point towards the outlaws. These residents have to be protected, though, as any deaths are penalised with fines.
When you find an outlaw Gunfright again switches to the shooting gallery game, only this time you must shoot the bad guy before he shoots you. You can wait for him to draw, or you can just plug him ASAP.
Graphically, Gunfright decent enough. It’s not as colourful as Nightshade was, but it does have character.
Gunfright was the first Ultimate-developed game to be published by another company. US Gold were the ones who released it, and not long afterwards they bought Ultimate out. So Gunfright is seen by some as the last ‘proper’ Ultimate game.
Nightshade is an isometric action adventure, released by Ultimate Play The Game for the ZX Spectrum in 1985.
It is something of a continuation of the Knight Lore theme, with the Filmation Engine once again employed to provide the environment and physics, only this time the screen scrolls, with the main character staying in the middle.
You play a knight who is trapped inside a plague-ridden village and who must track down and defeat four evil demons who are wreaking havok. People in the village have been turned into vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures and are now after your blood. You can pick up antibodies inside houses and fire them at infected villagers to destroy them. To kill the demons you need to find one of four special weapons and use the correct one against them. Certainly not an easy task because the position of the weapons and demons changes with every game.
Nightshade is another fine Ultimate release from the mid Eighties. It’s certainly not up with their very best, but it is an impressive and important 8-bit game nonetheless.
Knight Lore by Ultimate Play The Game, first released for the ZX Spectrum in 1984, changed the way games were viewed, and played at the time.
The isometric, pseudo 3D landscapes allowed the player to explore using the “Filmation” engine, and it was a huge revelation. There were better versions of Knight Lore made than the Spectrum version (the BBC Micro version was faster, and the Amstrad version was more colourful), but the ZX Spectrum version is the one I remember with most fondness. Because it really pushed the little machine further than anyone had pushed it before. With clicky sound and lots of slowdown.
Completing Knight Lore is almost impossible. It doesn’t matter though – it’s still fun trying and dying!
The famous Ultimate ZX Spectrum game, converted skilfully to the Amstrad CPC and eclipsing the original in the process. More colour – less slowdown! 🙂
Alien 8 is a serious challenge, and another reason why Ultimate Play The Game made the best games.