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Although having nice graphics and all that,
Nightshade doesn't really have enough puzzles for it to deserve any better than its current rating. The thing is, all you have to do ('all' ho, ho) is collect the four different super antibodies and fire them at the meanies -- fine for arcade people because all you have to do is survive; there's nothing for the adventure people to mull over. Nevertheless, it's still fun to play (the scoring potential is huge) and is difficult, especially as it's so easy to find yourself going round in circles. Try it if you like the sound of it.
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I found
Nightshade very boring to play when it appeared on the Spectrum not that many months ago. Unfortunately the same doesn't hold true for this conversion, since it is even duller to play than the original. This is due to the slow speed of the graphics and consequently the gameplay suffers. It wouldn't be quite so bad if the game had enough depth to maintain interest, but there isn't and as it stands I wouldn't have said Nightshade was worth Firebird's time . . . And money, come to think of it.
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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!
Night Shade
1985 Firebird/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).
 

NIGHTSHADE
Firebird, 9.95 cass, joystick only


Many moons ago in a hidden valley between the purple mountains and the seas of the Seven Islands there was a great calamity: darkness descended upon that land, evil overran all that was good and death and hunger spread. Those who remained became twisted and stricken with evil and the village in that valley became possessed with powers so black that nobody dared enter.

Years later the story became legend and only the songs and tales remained of those who had tried to enter the valley never to return . . . for those who trespass into the village become enslaved by the immense power of the evil Overlord.

After listening to the story of the battle with the forces of evil in the Nightshade village one night, you decide to set off down the valley . . . and thus the scene is set for the latest Ultimate game, marketed by Firebird.

Nightshade is yet another arcade adventure which utilises the Spectrum/Amstrad 'Filmation' programming techniques used in Knightlore and Alien 8, giving a realistic 3D panoramic view of what's going on around you. The program differs from those two games in the respect that the scenery scrolls rather than 'flicks' as you move from one location to another.

The game itself is set in a typical mediaeval village, complete with ancient looking houses, streets, barns, churches and the like. As you walk down the streets, you can see the facias of the buildings in detail, with walls, gables and windows. If you like the look of a building then you can enter it through its door. When you do so, the front of the building disappears, revealing what is behind -- useful since it lets you see what you're doing.

Most of the buildings are connected so you can travel from one to another by moving through the series of doors and rooms inside. Many buildings have back doors accessing the street behind.

Throughout the village loads of marauding nasties rush after you and try to take one of your five men. Each man may be hit three times by a nasty before the fourth results in him being killed. With a new life your man is white and with each progressive hit he turns yellow, then green and then into a puff of smoke.


[The colour version: this screenshot was not in the original review]

Your man looks a little like the knight from the Spectrum game Atic Atac. He's not defenceless either, and can throw things at the nasties to protect himself. These 'antibodies' (varying from sticks to what looks like the end of a mace) can be picked up from the rooms of just about any building. Running over them automatically puts them into a tube at the side of the screen. The tube only holds a limited number of objects so it has to be replenished very regularly to increase your (very slim) chances of survival. There are extra lives that can he picked up and there are also boots which, when collected, allow you to run at high speeds for a short while.

When you throw an antibody at a nasty, it doesn't always kill it straight off. Some of the bigger ones need to be shot several times. The gremlin, for example, splits into two smaller creatures, which again have to be shot. The smaller creatures then turn into a bubbling mess that still gives chase until shot for the final time. Thankfully you don't have to go through this rigmarole every time you shoot something -- most, like the flames, smaller sliding things and squat, toad-like creatures, die with the first shot.

The object of the game is to find and pick up the four super antibodies (bible, hammer, cross and egg timer). Once found you have to track down the four evil characters which run the show (the monk, the skeleton, the ghost and Mr Grimreaper) and throw the correct super antibody at it. If you can do that then the village will be freed from the evil which has ruled there for so long, and everybody will live happily ever after . . . until the next Ultimate game, anyway!

Nightshade comes in two versions, one black and while and the other colour. The black and white version is slightly faster than the colour, otherwise there is no difference.

     

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Yet another naff game from Ultimate, at least this time it's not really their fault, Commodore
Nightshade really being a son of Firebird. Though not impressed with any detail of the game, the speed of the game impressed me the least. Even playing the supposedly faster black and white version on the B side of the tape, Sabreman's pace was still intolerably sluggish. Not that the game is easy mind you, oh no, quite the opposite in fact. There are some awful gameplay glitches that make any form of progress near impossible. Worse of all is your re-materialisation after a life is lost. Several times I got into a situation where every time Sabreman reappeared he instantly got zapped again because a nasty also chose that spot to materialise on. I'm afraid that Nightshade didn't live up to the standards it should have and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone except real arcade adventure addicts.
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Presentation 75%
Attractive on-screen but hardly any options.

Graphics 78%
Effective 3D tarnished by the very slow speed.

Sound 38%
Pretty crummy music and effects.

Hookability 62%
It might be fun a-trudging around the village of Nightshade but the snail's pace puts you off so quickly.

Lastability 61%
Completing the game is tough but the lack of gameplay makes it dull.

Value For Money 49%
May have value for some arcade adventurers, but generally over-priced for what it offers.

Overall 54%
What worked well on the Spectrum because of its speed ends up being slow and less interesting on the 64.

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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (22 Nov 2004)

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