Jack the jester's lot is not a happy one, he observes as he trudges out on an impossible mission to find nine enchanted lamps. The problem is he's in love.
Well, it's not actually being in love that's the problem, it's that his loved one is the king's daughter, Princess Grizelda. And the king is more than slightly peeved at Jack's interest in his daughter; after all, who wants someone who wears silly hats and hits everyone with a pig's bladder for a son-in-law?
So King Maxim has decided to get rid of Jack by sending him on a crusade to retrieve these nine lamps, including the revered Black Lamp of Allegoria. Once safely housed in the castle treasury, the lamps were stolen, and ever since the Kingdom of Allegoria has been plagued by strange and unearthly creatures.
Jack sets out after consulting his friend Pratweezle the sorcerer, who endows him with two magical powers: recuperation (allowing him to cheat death a few times), and energy bolts which Jack can fire from his belt buckle.
And the buckle-dusters come in handy on Jack's travels as he encounters witches, crows, goblins, werewolves and - the archnasties of them all - dragons. Energy lost in being beaten up can be replenished with food and drink, and other collectible objects include shields and weapons.
Once each lantern is found, it must be taken to a chest (there are 20, all around the land of Allegoria). Each chest has nine compartments, each one a different colour. Jack has to place each coloured lantern into its correct compartment - and defeat a fierce dragon to get at the eponymous black lantern.
Once the lanterns have been returned to their rightful places, peace and tranquillity will return to Allegora. And. as in all good stories, Jack will get to marry the beautiful princess.
'Black Lamp is most unplayable. Jolly Jack takes ages to respond to frantic movements of the joystick or keyboard, which is infuriating in such a fast action game. And because of poor game design most of your precious time is spent retracing the jester's footsteps back past the same old enemies over and over again. But the simple game would be very addictive if it weren't for that. And the graphics are competently animated and well-drawn (though not very original), ranging from simply-drawn houses to magnificent mansions. Despite the slow-moving sprite, Black Lamp is mildly effective.'
'At first glance Black Lamp looks Interesting. The highscore-table picture is impressive - especially the two flickering lamps flanking the day's high scores - and the graphics are OK, with a porky little sprite wobbling around nicely-drawn backgrounds. His movements are very sluggish, though, and after a few games Black Lamp becomes boring. There's too much wandering around to find the action, and when you do it's usually just shooting creatures. Black Lamp is a barely average collect-'em-up - it looks bright, but the lantern of interest soon goes out.'
'Jester Jack is an attractive little fellow, jigging through the countryside with his pig's bladder, and the monochrome magic kingdom is well-drawn, with enough detail to get you interested and plenty of scope for exploration. Zapping wicked witches and wailing werewolves with one hand white grabbing the odd chicken leg to fill your ever-rumbling belly is quite fun in its way, and Black Lamp is very playable at first - but there's no challenge to keep you going back for more. However cute the jolly jester and however attractive the felling of grumpy goblins, the gameplay just isn't difficult enough. Even the dragon which jealously guards the black lamp on each level doesn't offer much opposition; it takes only a few shots to make the dastardly demon disappear in a disappointing flash.'
: Cursor. Kempston, SinclairGraphics
: slow animation against a wide range of detailed backgroundsSound
: superb 128K title tuneGeneral Rating:
Black Lamp looks great, but there's not much game to play.
Great pig's bladder, shame about the playability: Black Lamp
'Zapping wicked witches and wailing werewolves with one hand, grabbing the odd chicken leg with the other...'