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After reading the press release, I thought that
Blackwyche was going to be something really different and special. Unfortunately it's not. Ultimate seem very content with the Staff of Karnath / Entombed game format and have used it again in Blackwyche. The game itself is very similar to the last two, the only real differences being the superb backdrops. The main sprites are really awful, with pretty crummy animation and little or no multicolour. Why Ultimate continue to use expanded sprites I don't know, but these days this type of sprite tends to make games look shoddy and unprofessional in their programming. There are quite a few tricky puzzles to solve and the initial interest is there, but I'm beginning to get that deja vu feeling, and playing a game in this format for the third time round just makes it seem dull and uninteresting.

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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!
Blackwyche
1985 Ultimate
Programmed by ?
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the eighth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (December 1985).
 

BLACKWYCHE
Ultimate, 9.95 cass, joystick


This latest release from the people who play the game, is set on a ghost ship with you, once again, as Sir Arthur Pendragon, trying to free the soul of the ship's captain, imprisoned long ago by the supernatural forces controlling the vessel. In the usual Ultimate tradition there are hundreds of nasties out to stop you, whose touch depletes your energy. You have to find your way through the various decks and rooms and equip yourself for the task ahead (until you find a sword, all you can do is attempt to avoid the nasties by jumping, and that isn't very effective).

Actually, getting the sword brings you into contact with a couple of very unfriendly skeletons, so you are well advised to look for a way to replenish that vital energy level. Some of the creatures (and there are an awful lot of them) deplete your supply very quickly indeed and it's advisable to spend the first couple of games looking for new sources of energy.

Most of the problems facing you require the collection of particular objects to he used in certain other locations. Sometimes their uses are fairly obvious (such as getting gunpowder to fire a cannon), but on other occasions the problems are more obscure. You often need to be in possession of an object to acquire or use another.

The graphics are in full colour and offer forced perspective 3D. This provides interesting backgrounds for the adventure. The monsters who attack are single-coloured animated sprites. To list them all here would take too long; suffice to say that many are taken from mythology, rather than being invented for the purposes of the game.

The game isn't overlarge as there are only five decks, but there are several locations to each deck and some involve scrolling. Of course, the complex graphics and puzzles help make up for the relatively small number of rooms. As usual with an Ultimate game, you're left fairly much in the dark as to what you do. A poem on the game sleeve tells you only the barest details about your quest.

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I've always thought that
Staff of Karnath was a pretty poor attempt at an arcade adventure, being far too obscure and frustrating to be worthwhile (I'm amazed anyone ever solved it). Entombed, while following a similar format to its predecessor, was a much better game with some excellent problems. Blackwyche also has some great problems, such as sub-standard sprites, sound effects and poor puzzles. It also looks too close to the two previous Ultimate releases for comfort -- when will they buck up their ideas and come up with something new? Hopefully their next release, Imhotep, will be a step in the right direction.
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Presentation
65%
Average packaging, nice loading screen but only a couple of options.
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This is one game I just wasn't excited by at all. There might be a lot of different monsters, but they all do pretty much the same thing and they all look pretty dull. The 3D effect, which appears to be good at first sight, is out of proportion and frustrating.
Blackwyche looks as if it could have been good and there are some fairly decent ideas, but these have been badly implemented on screen. There is nothing whatsoever remarkable enough to write about. I think Ultimate have made an unfortunate mistake with this one.
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Graphics 79%
Stunning backgrounds are all very well but the sprites are quite primitive
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Sound 38%
Weak, unimaginative tunes and FX
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Hookability 45%
There's just not enough rewarding play to grab you ...

Lastability 47%
... and if you persevere it's not even that hard to finish.

Value For Money 48%
The going rate for an Ultimate game but well below their standards.

Overall 53%
Sad to see Ultimate turn out a program like this.
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Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (28 Dec 2003)

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