Plague and pestilence, death and destruction. You'll find them all in Ultimate's newie, Nightshade. Sounds like a job for Sabreman - with help from Teresa Maughan!
Imagine a deserted village, lost in time, enveloped by an evil force. Here, hideously foul creatures roam the streets, flesh falling from their rotting bodies. Sounds like the new Michael Jackson video, eh? It's actually the scenario for Nightshade.
The game is set in a world of death and decay. The only life forms are mad monks, gruesome ghouls, deadly demons and mutant monsters. It's your awesome task to release the Kingdom of Nightshade from the grips of an evil curse that's brought plague to the land. There are four objects for you to locate that'll wipe out the four main nasties and lift the curse.
Sounds simple, huh? Well, you'll have to avoid swarms of nasties such as lethal germs, gyrating blobs and maniacal meanies. Touch them and they'll infect you with the fatal disease - but fortunately you don't die straight away, you just turn a bit of a funny colour!
To defend yourself, you must go inside the rooms and collect various antibodies to fire at the nasties - but be warned, you've gotta be quick on the trigger.
The graphics are well up to the usual Ultimate standard. The village is built up of beautifully drawn houses - and as you enter them the walls disappear so you can check up on all that's happening inside. The gooks and goblins don't have the evil aspect that the scenario suggests but they sure are some of the cutest you're ever likely to encounter. And the scrolling is nothing short of superb - you won't have seen it faster or more flicker-free.
It has to be said, though, that Nightshade is a couple of steps back from Alien 8 and Knight Lore. As an arcade adventure, the adventure element is almost non-existent - the game is much more a good of shoot 'em-up with the added excitement of 3D scrolling and a vast area to wander around in. Trouble is you may find the game becomes tedious unless you're heavily into mindless alien bashing.
But having said that, you have to remember that Ultimate hasn't yet come up with a naff game - and though Nightshade's not their best, it certainly can't be classed as a duffer.
"Very pretty" splutter the wretched cynics from SlamBang Software every time Ultimate launches a new masterpiece "but" and here you sniff a whiff of vinegar "it's not a game". Well Nightshade is the prettiest show from the Zouche with Filmation II allowing you to smoothly scroll where no Spectrum has scrolled before.
As your knight errant walks through the 3D village maze, walls disappear leaving a line on the floor to remind you not to bump your nose. You must collect four charms to wipe out four plagues but your quest is hampered by some of the zaniest monsters ever.
These range from lower forms - lampshades, fizzers, slimes and blobs and supermonsters including a Chelsea supporter - well it looks like one, waving a scarf above its head, except that it has not noticed that the scarf has been knicked so it still gormlessly waves its mits in the air - mohicans, mini-mohicans and owls.
Stop reading now if you want to stay honest. Otherwise - you can collect a stack of antibodies to fire at monsters. Antibodies come in four delicious flavours - maces, spinning crosses, whirlpools and cucumber slices.
Any of these will kill the lowlife but beware if you hit an owl with a mace or a mohican with a whirlpool, a hooligan with a cucumber or a mini-moke with a cross, they turn into lowlife. Firing a cucumber at an owl turns it into a mohican which splits to cause double trouble if you hit it again. Likewise whirlpools turn mini-mokes into owls and split on a second hit, while crosses turn mohicans into hooligans before splitting, and maces turn hooligans into mini-mokes which split.
Stepping on a banana skin speeds you up and bottles restore your life. I said this genetic engineering sounded dangerous. And so to the plagues. An egg-timer will kill the grim reaper, hammer kills skeleton, crucifix kills monk and bible kills ghost. When you are close to your target the charm flashes. So much for problem-solving. Very pretty, technically brilliant, but ultimately not much of a game. Nightshade has finally turned this Alien 8 fanatic into a cynic.
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