Wednesday 30 May 2012

Underwurlde - Sinclair Spectrum - 1984

First guardian, wrong weapon

Underwurlde was the second of three Sabreman games released by Ultimate Play The Game during 1984 and the only one I have not played before.  It is the follow up to Sabre Wulf and was released at the same time as Knight Lore.  After escaping the jungle, the unlucky Sabreman has been trapped in the ‘Underwurlde’ and must make his way through a castle and caverns to one of three exits (one for each of the planned sequels).  To reach the exits you have to defeat three guardians, requiring you to collect a particular weapon to pass each one.  Underwurlde boasts nearly 600 screens of side on, flip screen platforming set in the castle and the caverns beneath.

This time out Sabreman can athletically leap about the play area and cannot be killed by touching the enemy creatures.  He can however lose a life by falling too far into one of the deep caverns.  When the enemies touch Sabreman he is bounced around the screen.  Due to the abundance of enemies and the narrowness of the platforms and ledges this can make the game frustrating as it is all too easy to die. You are armed but can only shoot left or right and the enemies come at you from all around.  Aside from using platforms you can descend into the caverns by using ropes and ascend by standing on bubbles that rise from the floor.  Again, it is all too easy be touched by a creature and sent plummeting into the cavern floor.  Another annoying feature is that you jump automatically when reaching the edge of a platform; this and the touch of the enemy creatures give the game a slightly ‘out of control’ feel.

The graphics are up to the usual Ultimate standards with colourful, smooth and fast moving sprites. The sound effects are also decent enough for the Spectrum.  Underwurlde is both fun and infuriating at the same time.  I was in two minds about whether to include the game on the list due to the annoyances, but the quality of the game (just) won me over in the end.

Using a rope is the safest way to descend into the caverns.
Eagles can pick you up and try to drop you from a great height.