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Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Teresa Maughan
Chris Bourne


Plague and pestilence, death and destruction. You'll find them all in Ultimate's newie, Nightshade. Sounds like a job for Sabreman - with help from Teresa Maughan!

Imagine a deserted village, lost in time, enveloped by an evil force. Here, hideously foul creatures roam the streets, flesh falling from their rotting bodies. Sounds like the new Michael Jackson video, eh? It's actually the scenario for Nightshade.

The game is set in a world of death and decay. The only life forms are mad monks, gruesome ghouls, deadly demons and mutant monsters. It's your awesome task to release the Kingdom of Nightshade from the grips of an evil curse that's brought plague to the land. There are four objects for you to locate that'll wipe out the four main nasties and lift the curse.

Sounds simple, huh? Well, you'll have to avoid swarms of nasties such as lethal germs, gyrating blobs and maniacal meanies. Touch them and they'll infect you with the fatal disease - but fortunately you don't die straight away, you just turn a bit of a funny colour!

To defend yourself, you must go inside the rooms and collect various antibodies to fire at the nasties - but be warned, you've gotta be quick on the trigger.

The graphics are well up to the usual Ultimate standard. The village is built up of beautifully drawn houses - and as you enter them the walls disappear so you can check up on all that's happening inside. The gooks and goblins don't have the evil aspect that the scenario suggests but they sure are some of the cutest you're ever likely to encounter. And the scrolling is nothing short of superb - you won't have seen it faster or more flicker-free.

It has to be said, though, that Nightshade is a couple of steps back from Alien 8 and Knight Lore. As an arcade adventure, the adventure element is almost non-existent - the game is much more a good of shoot 'em-up with the added excitement of 3D scrolling and a vast area to wander around in. Trouble is you may find the game becomes tedious unless you're heavily into mindless alien bashing.

But having said that, you have to remember that Ultimate hasn't yet come up with a naff game - and though Nightshade's not their best, it certainly can't be classed as a duffer.

Not Rated

Screenshot Text

Don't be tempted - this monster's tantalising touch will leave you feeling mighty queasy! Attack with an anti-body and be warned, it takes a lot to kill of these Kenn Dodd look-alikes.

Potion Power! This special brew refreshes the parts other potions can't reach. You'll feel like a new man again after just one sup! Go easy though, this liquor is pretty scarce.

What kills all known germs dead? Spirals of course! These particular antibodies are wafting about in various rooms, so stand in a corner if you want increased antibody attraction.

Who's this handsome beast? My, it's you of course! - Sporting a rather fetching helmet and looking like you're ready for anything... On second thoughts, all those furtive glances over the shoulder make you seem pretty paranoid!

These strange-looking blobs are you collection of antibodies. Let them attack the baddies' defences to protect yourself, but remember to keep your supply well topped-up.

These boots sure weren't made for walkin'. Step on this to give your weary pins a boost! Now you can hot-foot it round the village in double quick time without falling prey to the local nasties.

This chap may look harmless, but watch him shift! Shooting him only gets him out the way for a few seconds, and what's worse, he'll soon be joined by a bunch of cronies. The objects tend to blend in with the background, so keep your eyes opened!

Yikes, it's the hooded-monk, not a very Holy one either. He's just one of the demons you've got to destroy using either the cross, the hammer, the bible or the egg-timer.

If you didn't get your Scouts or Brownies orienteering bade, then there's a compass to help you locate the objects. That's fine if you've got time to use the thing!

Cross your heart and hope not to die! Take up the cross and search out that mad monk. The cross'll flash when he's near, so you can home in for the kill. Don't get trigger happy as you'll destroy the cross before he appears...

At least the scenery's pleasant, even if the inhabitants aren't! There's a whole mini-town to explore if you get tired of zapping those aliens.

'Them bones, them bones. them dry bones!' The hammer's the thing to fend off this foul fiend of a skeleton...

Spooky man! Even the skeleton's scared of this spook. Use your bible to dispel this spirit or you'll find he'll turn you into a ghoulash...

Once wiped out, the dastardly demons will change colour... the mad monk has gone a putrid shade of purple, what a nasty habit!

Back to the biology lab to learn about the four types of antibodies. Spirals, spinners, globes and bubbles - sound more like fun fair props than deadly weapons! Their effectiveness varies, so just keep blasting!

This 'Gremlins reject' ain't as much fun as he looks. Just watch him multiply and go on the rampage! Don't shoot with spirals - spinners are your best bet here.

This jelly-like blob is rife with some vile disease, so keep your distance. Stay out of reach of the germs, acid pools and spikers too... they're not nice!

You could find yourself turning yellow... then green if you're not killed outright by one of these dreaded creatures... Yuk!

This is your hit list - go for that mad monk, the grim reaper, the ghost and the skeleton! When you've blasted the lot, they'll be plunged into a fearful black abyss and you'll be freed from the evil curse... until the next game!

Losing a life is a colourful experience - you'll go a wonderful shade of blue. Once you've lost five lives, it's curtains!