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The latest in the long chain of Arthur Pendragon adventures is yet another disappointment. Although Ultimate have tried a different approach to the 3D graphics, it doesn't really add anything to the game. The sound is once more a let down; why Ultimate can't get a competent sound programmer I don't know. This game has the usual grindy old jingle with an arpeggio in the background. Well, one thing that's good -- this is the last of the Pendragon adventures . . . Perhaps Ultimate can concentrate on producing something a little different and more interesting.
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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Dragon Skulle
1986 Ultimate
Programmed by ?
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the eleventh issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: February 9th, 1986).
 

DRAGONSKULLE
Ultimate, 9.95 cass, joystick with keys


Despite man's incessant curiosity and the relatively small size of the planet Earth, there are still a few undiscovered lands tucked away in far off places. Such as the isle of Dragonskulle, fraught with danger and evil . . . The evil of the Skull of Souls. The Ultimate hero, Sir Arthur Pendragon, must find this skull and destroy it, thus ridding the world of the most terrifying supernatural horror after the Devil itself.

Dragonskulle is the fourth and final arcade adventure in the Arthur Pendragon series and follows its successful predecessors closely with its approach. The action is viewed through a smooth scrolling window, as in previous Pendragon adventures, and flips from one location to the next when moving 'in' and 'out' of the screen. Above this window there are five icons which are selected by pressing a key and activated with the joystick fire button.

The first is the shovel, which once found allows Arthur to dig holes. Then there is the magical energy cloak which makes Arthur invulnerable to a majority of the nasties encountered in the game, but only for a limited period. Useful, but again it must first be found and can only be used once before requiring energy replenishment. The third icon pauses the game when selected, while the fourth allows Arthur to fire magical orbs which usually dispose of a nasty if thrown accurately. Finally, there is the jump icon which speaks for itself. If Arthur wishes to use an object not currently in his possession and activates the respective icon, a head appears in its place and shakes from side to side to indicate that the action can't be performed.

Throughout the game there are the ubiquitous Ultimatesque problems to be solved, such as how to get past flashing skulls.

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Thank God this is the last in the series of Sir Arthur Pendragon adventures. The guy isn't the hero type. When Harrison Ford wants to leap a cavernous ravine he doesn't bunnyhop it, does he? Bunny hopping is for wimps, as is dying, which I found myself doing for the oddest reasons whilst strolling around
Dragonskulle. The 3D effect just isn't -- lots of silly little mistakes take away any sort of reality the game had. Ultimate's pioneering work in getting as many unmatching colours on screen at once has been used to good effect. Looks nice with the chunkier-than-pedigree-chum sprites having a good wibble about the screen. I think you may have guessed by now -- I don't like Dragonskulle and one more release like this for the 64 and I won't like Ultimate.
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Dragonskulle is, with a few minor exceptions, everything I expected it to be, ie very similar to Ultimate's previous arcade adventures, and as far as I am concerned, hackneyed. Ultimate haven't progressed at all since Staff of Karnath and surely can't expect their games to sell purely on the strength of their name. I am wholly bored with this style of arcade adventure and thankfully, Dragonskulle is the last adventure in the Arthur Pendragon series, so perhaps we might see something more inspiring in the near future. I do hope so. Still, if you're not tired of the Ultimate approach yet, you may well derive some pleasure from Dragonskulle. I didn't, but then I have got several 'O' levels in how to be a miseryguts.
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Presentation 65%
Adequate instructions but few options.

Graphics 76%
Good backdrops but porky, ill-defined sprites and poor 3D effect.

Sound 35%
Dull, unimaginative music and FX which sound far too much like previous offerings.

Hookability 54%
Nothing overly interesting to initially inspire.

Lastability 45%
And little to maintain interest.

Value For Money 45%
Expensive considering the poor quality of the product.

Overall 49%
It's about time Ultimate played the game and came up with a good one.

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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (23 Nov 2004)

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