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1986
Arcade: Adventure
£9.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes

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34
Phil South
Chris Bourne

Once again, that 'perennial', not to say 'darned persistant', hero Sabre Man has his eye on the next Ultimate adventure. (Well, they say the Devil finds work for idle Sabre Mans!). With just a magic wand and a few spells for company, he schleps into this latest maze hooded, as a true neophyte, in his chintzy shimmering blue robes, in search of the ancient Pentagram. Exactly why he might want the Pentagram in the first place is a little unclear, as the instructions to the game are shrouded in Ultimate's rather confusing 'poetry'. But want it he does, and in order to get it he must retrieve its four sections, and combine them in the correct way.

You have the now traditional left and right keys to rotate your hooded Sabre Man so he's pointing in the right direction, plus other keys to walk forward, fire, and jump. All this rotate-and-walk business is an annoying way of controlling a character, not to mention flippin' slow as any Asteroids veteran will tell you! Not too good if you're in a tight spot, with a spider chasing you while you're struggling around to point the right way for a quick exit. It would've been far better with the four direction method of a game like Batman.

You'll face many and varied hazards in your quest. But, by far the worst death-dealing creatures are the spiders. I'm not quite sure whether they follow you or not. Actually I think that it's Just the way they whizz around... that and the fact that they're invulnerable to your blasts. That really gives me the willies. One slightly odd feature is the dragon heads that seem content to sway from side to side in doorways - making timing crucial when exiting or entering a room.

I'm gonna level with you. There are a few reasons why I don't go overboard on this game. The 3D style arcade-adventure has its fans I suppose, and you know who you are, but the rest of us need the odd spark of originality in a new game before we go ga-ga. The gameplay looks a bit, well, rushed shall we say? And I really didn't like the way the baddies just fall gently from the ceiling like flakes of plaster.

I also found it irritating that the more stuff you see on screen the slower and more laborious Sabre Man's movements become. As this display problem includes the bolts you shoot at the bad guys, rapid fire is out of the question. Still, having said all that, of its type it's not bad. Provided you're persistant, the puzzles are challenging enough and almost anyone will enjoy solving them - eventually(!).

7/10
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