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Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne
Chris Bourne

HERE COMES Ultimate once more with the continuing saga of Sabre Man.

Nightshade is, as you might have begun to suspect, more of the same - the brilliant 3D graphics system of Knight Lore and Alien 8 juiced up and improved to simulate a mediaeval village. Somehow the programmers have managed to get colour into the screens.

In order to see your little hero in the narrow village lanes one or two walls drop out of the picture, remaining as white lines on the screen. That system does, however, allow for some wonderfully detailed views of inns, barns and the like.

As usual with Ultimate there is little information on what you are supposed to do. The village is said to have been possessed by a great evil, which turned the inhabitants into werewolves and other hideous creatures. Those monsters are some of the best yet, coming in a tremendous variety of shapes.

Your weapons lie in the village rooms and you collect various missiles to stock up your ammunition. Some will not do you much good - there are monsters which transmute into others if hit, or split into two, and it's going to take you some time to establish which does what to whom.

Meanwhile, there are four hyper-nasties - a mad monk, a skeleton, a ghost, and Mr Grimreaper, death himself. They are scattered about the village, and must, we suppose, be sought out and destroyed, presumably with four special objects, the eggtimer, Bible, Hammer and Cross.

The game is well-paced - very much an arcade-style production compared to the logic puzzles of the two earlier Filmation games.

On the other hand, there is a sense of deja vu creeping into Ultimate games. It's now well over a year since Sabre Man first appeared, and the concept is wearing a little thin.

Nightshade looks a lot different from Knight Lore and Alien 8, but not so different as to stifle doubts that Ultimate may be running out of steam. Or dare we hope for something really special this side of Christmas?

Chris Bourne

Publisher: Ultimate
Price: £9.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, cursor