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1988
Arcade: Adventure
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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69
David McCandless
Chris Bourne

Imagine this your only aim in life being to marry the Kings daughter and fool around a little. A pretty reasonable ambition for a besotted jester I guess, unless you happen to be a member of a court plagued by hoards of demonic creatures, as you are in this new game from Firebird.

You are trying to gain the hand of Grizelda, the Kings' daughter, in marriage. But to do this you'll need to scour the Kingdom of AHegona in search of certain lanterns that were stolen from the Royal treasure trove and in particular, the Black Lamp of Allegoria. Actually, all it means is that you need to collect 9 objects to complete a level, and the carrot is a bit of Regal Nooky.

Naturally you ll find a lot of meanies chasing after you, flinging magic bolts at you or, as in the case of the buzzard, dropping ox-stunning eggs (everyone scramble!) But all is not lost, for you are armed with a magic belt buckle (blimey, do I these games designers come up with some weird ideas), with which you can destroy the nasties with differing degrees of success. Some, like the werewolves and witches, need only a couple of shots, whereas the dragons need so many it s more likely you'll fall asleep and/or die several times in the process.

One problem with all this magic stuff flying around is you can't duck. You can jump, but never high enough to dodge them completely.

The graphics are excellent with some nice touches to detail, but the two-tone scenes could have had some colour added. Jack's movements have been well thought out and executed - he walks he jumps, he jumps backwards, he swings his bum while climbing ladders but this only means massive reduction in game speed.

Jumping is essential just to keep the game moving Watch out when on certain platforms though, 'cos you sometimes jump straight through. A useful trick on the bottom of steps that hit the edge of the screen, is to jump backwards. Oh, and talking of neat tricks the dragon basically fires in two directions. You'll have to climb to kill it, so try to find a spot near the top where he aims downwards, then you can fire at will, with no ill-effects.

Another nice feature and one quite unlike most other games where you have to collect an object and plonk it somewhere, is that there are 20 separate rooms you can go to. It doesn't matter which, so you don't have to keep going back.

Your Jack has five lives and you can sustain a certain number of hits before his energy runs out. When low on energy, you can build it up again by collecting food and drink scattered around. Additionally, for a limited number of shots, weapons increase your firepower and shields protect you from direct hits from others. Falling from a great height - not normally recommended - can be made safe by collecting a musical instrument. It's a shame these bonus objects are so few and far between though, 'cos there's only one of you, against a seemingly inexhaustable supply of adversaries.

Now I'm a sucker for this type of game - lots of blasting, no puzzles of any magnitude to work out and, if it weren't for the effective lack of speed, just a damn wacky good time. The scenery in Black Lamp is undeniably (for me anyway) fabbo and the detail is cute (if slow). Okay, so it may not be everyone's cup of tea - best bitter, maybe - but don't knock it 'til you try it, I suppose.

Graphically sound, but the fiddly bits slow things down a little. Fun for the few for the while.

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Screenshot Text

Witches on brooms, werewolves snapping at your ankles and, as seen above, even evil buzzards which drop foul eggs on you. In other words death awaits from all directions. Weapons and musical instruments collected show up as a sword and harp at top left. Shields show top right.

Most inanimate objects can be used for a bit of mountaineering practice. In all cases, to kill a dragon you'll need to get up high. The further away the better, so the angles are cut down - you wouldn't want to go before your time, would you?