Tag Archives: Sabreman

Sabre Wulf, Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 version of Ultimate‘s classic Sabre Wulf was made by Greg Duddle of Mr. Micro for Firebird Software, who published the game in 1985.

Graphically, it’s a mix of the chunkiness of the BBC and Amstrad versions, and the “high definition” (ha!) of the original Spectrum version. It’s a pleasing mix anyway, and there’s none of the graphical flicker or colour clash that blights other versions.

Gameplay-wise: it’s the same as the original and there don’t seem to be any problems with control or collision detection. That said: some enemies seem to spawn in places where they don’t in the original, which makes the game slightly more difficult. C64 Sabre Wulf also plays quite fast, which makes it fairly challenging.

Commodore 64 Sabre Wulf is a respectable conversion overall.

Sabre Wulf on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum versionBBC Micro version,
Amstrad CPC version, Commodore 64 version

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre_Wulf

Sabre Wulf, Amstrad CPC

The Amstrad conversion of Sabre Wulf features the same chunky graphics as the BBC version, except with some extra colouring. It does make make a difference though. The Amstrad version doesn’t look quite as harsh as the BBC version.

Although the gameplay is reasonably accurate, I’m not entirely convinced by the actual playability of this conversion – the keyboard and joystick controls are a little sticky and the collision detection is also a little suspect. I found this to be more unforgiving than the original.

Still: Amstrad Sabre Wulf is not a bad game and is still worth a play now. Just from memory I managed to complete three quarters of the game, although I did use quicksaves. 🙂

Sabre Wulf on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum versionBBC Micro version,
Amstrad CPC version, Commodore 64 version

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre_Wulf

Sabre Wulf, BBC Micro

The BBC Micro version of Ultimate Play The Game‘s classic Sabre Wulf is so chunky and garish that it hurts the eyes! That said: it plays well enough.

Gameplay is identical to the Spectrum version: you play Sabreman and you run around a big maze, looking for four parts of a mysterious amulet. Enemies appear randomly on each screen and most can be killed with a sword. Some are invulnerable though and will only change direction if you hit them with the sword. And of course there’s the titular Sabre Wulf himself, who patrols the lower levels and is invulnerable to everything. If the Wulf touches you – or any other enemy touches you for that matter – you lose a life. So avoiding being touched is key. A skilled player will go for some time without losing a life, although it’s very easy to lose concentration and get knocked down.

Although this plays similarly to the original, it’s really nowhere near as good. Not by a long chalk. The chunky, stretched graphics just don’t look very good to be honest. Certainly not as good as the beautifully-stylised graphics of the original.

Like most of the BBC Ultimate conversions: this is only a partial success. It’s capable of delivering some fun for a short while, doesn’t have much “wow” factor, and is very much overshadowed by the Spectrum original.

Sabre Wulf on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum version, BBC Micro version,
Amstrad CPC versionCommodore 64 version

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre_Wulf

Pentagram, ZX Spectrum

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).

Although Pentagram is the de facto fourth instalment in the Sabreman series (after Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde, and Knight Lore), it doesn’t feel like it fits in with the other three aforementioned games. It doesn’t quite feel like Ultimate.

Unfortunately, after the purchase by US Gold, the Ultimate Play The Game label died a swift death. I don’t think people were fooled by the change of ownership and sales of the last few Ultimate games were peanuts compared to the previous releases.

As a game in its own right, Pentagram just about pushes the Filmation Engine as far as it can go on a humble Speccy. Just like in Knight Lore and Alien 8, there’s tons of slowdown when a few things are moving on-screen at the same time. And – like Knight Lore and Alien 8Pentagram is ridiculously difficult too.

More: Pentagram on Wikipedia

Knight Lore, Famicom Disk System

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.

It doesn’t bear too much of a resemblance to the ZX Spectrum original, other than the basic idea, the isometric viewpoint, and the main characters remain the same. That said: it is not a bad game to play (if you ignore the silly tune that plays when you walk). It’s basically a ‘fetch’ game, where you collect and take objects to a cloaked figure who asks for them.

The game comes on a double-sided disk, so you have to swap sides to load it and make it playable. The text is all in Japanese, but if it says ‘B’ on screen, you know it’s time to switch to side B. And vice versa.

Why this version of Knight Lore was released only on disk and not cartridge I don’t know. The disk swapping is a drag. The game is not too bad overall. Compared to the original, though, I’d say it’s a little lacking. Graphically it’s quite good, although the colours are a bit too… green. Anyway, it is what it is (a little disappointing), but it is worth a play if you’re interested in Knight Lore history.

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

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Lore

Knight Lore, MSX

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.

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

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Lore

Knight Lore, Amstrad CPC

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. 🙂

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

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Lore

Knight Lore, BBC Micro

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…

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

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Lore

Sabre Wulf, ZX Spectrum

Ultimate Play The Game‘s iconic seventh release for the ZX Spectrum was first released in 1984.

Sabre Wulf is a colourful maze/action game, and was the first game to feature the lead character Sabreman.

Gameplay is frenetic and simple – the idea is you have to fight your way (with a sword) through a jungle maze in order to find four pieces of an amulet, which will open the exit (found in the middle of the map), and escape. The titular Sabre Wulf – a blue-coloured wolf found prowling a set area of the jungle – has to be avoided at all costs as it cannot be defeated.

Fondly remembered – like most Ultimate games – Sabre Wulf also prompted a wave of clones from other software developers, as was the case with pretty much every Ultimate game at the time.

Still a great little game to play now though, with lovely, colourful graphics and jolly sound. A classic!

Sabre Wulf on The King of Grabs:
ZX Spectrum version, BBC Micro version,
Amstrad CPC versionCommodore 64 version

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabre_Wulf

Underwurlde, ZX Spectrum

Ultimate Play The Game‘s Underwurlde was first released on the ZX Spectrum in 1984 and was the company’s eighth release (actually a simultaneous release with Knight Lore), and the third game featuring the lead character ‘Sabreman’ (Sabre Wulf and Knight Lore being the other two).

Although somewhat difficult and frustrating to play, Underwurlde is fondly-remembered (and still played now), due to its Ultimate pedigree, and also the fact that it is beautifully-programmed and designed.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwurlde