Retro byte: ‘Switchblade’ (C64)

A bit of a quick entry this time round, as time is short and there are games to play rather than talk about them all the time 😉 …  A new title to highlight this time round is the relatively unknown ‘Switchblade’  (With focus on the Commodore 64 version).  My first experience of this was via a small demo on issue 11 of Commodore Format – and I remember quite well being blown away by a title which was very NES’esq in its style.  It didn’t take me long until I picked up the full version back in the day.

Start of the game on the C64.

In the game, you control Hiro, the last of the bladeknight warriors who must find 16 pieces and reassemble the legendary Fireblade to destroy an evil creature called Havok.

The game starts out with you above ground and kicking some bizzare scorpion creatures and picking up bonuses, until you reach a disused lift shaft which going into will result in you falling into the underground complex (Called the Undercity) – where your mission begins.

Undercity

The Undercity is a labyrinth of ladders, platforms, various monsters and traps throughout – which you must explore and discover all of the 16 pieces.  At particular points in the game you must destroy 16 larger creatures to progress to further parts of the game map.

One of the fun aspects of the game is kicking parts of the map and discovering little bonuses dotted around, and upgrades to your weaponry.   The creatures can get a bit annoying after a while, but trying to push further on in the game is compelling.  The only downfall is that things can get a little repetitive in terms of look and feel, but overall its a huge game and very surprising that they managed to cram it all into a single load.

Graphically the game varies – in some parts it is pretty awesome.  Animations are a bit iffy however, and the red landscape at the start is not very well defined.  Sonically the game comes with some of the best Ben Daglish music i’ve heard on the C64 (And which sadly happened to be his last work on the machine too).  The presentation is also very good, featuring a neat intro sequence and a great title screen with a superb animated logo.

The Amiga version
The Amiga version

It’s worth also checking out the 16-bit versions – but the C64 is a solid conversion overall, that the only thing you get are some improved graphics.  Additionally check out the sequel if you can, which is a very different game overall and well worth checking out.

Trivia:  The same developers later re-used the game engine to produce a cheap budget game for Codemasters in 1992 called Stryker in the Crypts of Trogan, which sadly was nowhere near as good as Switchblade.

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My trip to ‘Retrovision 2010’

Last weekend saw Retrovision 2010 come and go, and what a brilliant 3 days it was. Plenty of retro gaming, socializing, eating and drinking all in one, it has been an experience i’d like to do again next year with Retrovision 2011. Apart from getting bad Laryngitis on the day we arrived, it has been a big highlight already for 2010. (Full set of my photos can be found here btw)

Based in Oxford at the Follybridge Inn, travel was a bit of an issue for me as I come from all the way in south east Kent. It meant having to get up at 4am and leaving the house at 4:20am to get my 5am coach to London Victoria. After a bit of a wait at the station, I was on the next part of the journey to Milton Keynes where I met up with Vinny [Mainolfi].

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Retro bytes: ‘Blue Max’

A more familiar title from my childhood compared to Hudson Hawk (Which I only recently got playing). Think ‘Zaxxon‘ with a aeroplane flying across WW1 Germany, and what you have is Synapse Software’s ‘Blue Max’.

Blue Max on the C64
Blue Max on the C64

This is a game from way back in 1983 released on the likes of the Atari, C64 and Spectrum and which I have a bit of a soft spot for, as its one of those titles which I grew up with as a kid.

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Knight ‘n’ Grail now available!

The epic arcade adventure ‘Knight ‘n’ Grail’ is finally complete and on sale now from Psytronik Software for the Commodore 64. The game is available on disk only in Premium, Budget and Digital flavours. All pre-orders are currently being posted as we speak.

This is one of the best games for a long time on the C64, featuring some fantastic gameplay, a very large game map, neat touches throughout, excellent visuals and music throughout. It’s been heavily playtested to ensure that players get a fantastic experience – and that they will. As well as getting a top notch game, you have the option to get the game as a professionally produced disk release (Premium / budget) to play on a real C64, or you can purchase just a digital copy to play on any C64 emulator.

For more details about the game, visit: http://www.psytronik.com
For ordering details, visit: http://www.binaryzone.org/retrostore/