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Alive 2

Atari Falcon, play the game?

When  I was at the STNICCC 10th Anniversary party recently,  one of the
things I did a lot of,  was to catch up with my web-browsing. All those
strange  and   half-hidden corners of,  which I never  really
bothered  with  before,  lay open for the picking,  with the  massively
quick  and  free  of charge internet connection,  that Richard  K.  had
kindly provided for us at the party.

One  site  yielded up a little never seen before treasure,  as it had a
fair few small bits and pieces,  and in the middle of it all,  a Falcon
conversion  of  the  ZX  Spectrum classic,  'Knight  Lore'!  I  eagerly
downloaded and unzipped it,  and found,  yes,  it was,  with one or two
differences.  It  did  require a joystick,  of the old-fashioned  9-pin
sort,  which was the one piece of equipment I hadn't taken with me,  so
it had to wait until I got home.

The other thing which I wish I had done at the time, was to get the URL
or  address  of the site.  It was a site  I  hadn't  visited
before,  and  this  game was a genuine surprise to me,  but I foolishly
forgot where it had come from!  To be fair,  the unknown authors didn't
include  any  kind  of  readme file with  it  either,  which  seems  to
guarantee anonimity,  unless someone else out there,  can drop an email
and tell us who did it?

Knight  Lore,   for  its  time,   which  was  in  1984,   was  quite  a
groundbreaking game. It was written by Ultimate, latterly known as Rare
Developments.  It  was  the  first game to add a forced  3-D  isometric
viewpoint.  (Although  the SoftSolid 'Ant Attack' may have got in  with
the  3-D  idea  a bit earlier?) This was  the  major  gimmick,  indeed,
selling  point  of  Knight Lore,  and it inspired a  thousand  and  one
imitations,  the isometric viewpoint graphical adventure, proving to be
one of the most enduring genres of the classic home computer era, right
through to the 16 bit machines,  and only losing ground when the PeeCee
started to be able to do real 3-D.

So  what else was there,  apart from being able to walk around in three
dimensions?  Well,  Knight  Lore  was quite an intelligent and  intense
little game.  The mission objective,  which seemed to sort of follow on
from the previous Ultimate game,  'Sabre Wulf',  had the player trapped
in Knight Lore Castle, trying to free himself of the werewolf curse. To
do  this,  he  has  to  find the old wizard,  deep in the  castle,  and
retrieve the six objects to put in his cauldron,  to generate the magic
spell that breaks the curse.

This  of  course,  easier said than done.  Each room had its own little
features,  as  it  was never just a case of picking up the goodies  and
walking  straight out.  There were dissolving bridges which stood  over
spike pits,  little monsters,  which could hinder you,  or even destroy
you, which had to be manouvered around. Some objects were at the top of
very high points, and needed other objects, such as tables, which could
be  moved  around,  to  jump  up on.  There was a very high  degree  of
interaction with the game environment, in fact a huge amount for a game
written in 1984!

The  game had a 'memory' of where objects were left,  as you could drop
an object, and come back for it later, and it would still be there. The
puzzles  were clever,  a lot depending on some fairly sharp timing,  so
that  ingredient from classic two dimensional games was still  relevant
here.  Oh yes, there was a time limit, of forty (game) days and nights.
This passage of time was indicated by a sun/moon clock.

Another  clever  little  extra,  was  the transformation  of  the  game
character,  from  the  human 'Sabreman' form,  to a werewolf,  when day
changed   to  night!   This  could  be  a  bloody  nuisance  sometimes,
particularly  when you are trying to get out of a tight  corner,  where
the  transformation  left you standing still at just  the  wrong  time.
Changing to a werewolf also affected the game intelligence,  as some of
the  monsters definitely took a more aggressive attitude when you  were
in werewolf form.  This meant that certain rooms were impassable,  when
you were in that big fur coat!

Anyway,  Knight  Lore  is  one  of  those  games,  which  tends  to  be
responsible for the popularity of emulated 8-Bit computers! Back in the
olden  days,  I  was  personally a lot more familiar  with  the  second
Ultimate isometric effort,  'Alien-8', which used the same game engine,
but a more sci-fi based premise for the game.

And what about this Falcon version?  Well,   the original game seems to
be fully represented,  as I have just described above. In that respect,
it  is identical to the classic Speccy original.  There may have been a
set  number of lives,  and this restriction seems to have been removed,
perhaps  the  authors  figuring  that it is a  tough  game,  even  with
infinite lives.

Also,  I mentioned before, that a 9-pin joystick is needed (port 1, not
Kempston!),  so  the keyboard control option seems to have been removed

Where  the  most  obvious effort has gone in,  is with  the  recoloured
graphics.  The game has been pulled apart,  the sprites ripped out, and
redone  in  shades  which give more depth,  and a  greater  feeling  of
solidity. The game has been recoloured to the 256 colour mode? It looks
a lot on first sighting how someone would do Knight Lore on the ST, but
still,  a  good  end result.  The sound effects, which are gently quiet
spot effects, seem to have been kept in from the original game!

You can get an idea of what it looks like here..

It does work on any Falcon, totally at home on my 16 mhz RGB-based set-
up,  and not requiring any special conditions or tweaks to run straight
away on my Centurbo 2 SVGA-monitored Falcon either.

From  there,  not  a lot else to say,  apart from the fact that it is a
true classic, which still feels like a winning game today! Is a revival
of the classic arcade adventure due?

And who are the people responsible,  please get in touch, as respect is
due to you!

But I'm still waiting for the Falcon truecolor version of 'Atic Atak'!

CiH - For Alive! Magazine, Jan 2001..

Alive 2