"Knight Lore was a breakout ZX Spectrum game where you walked through a huge castle presented in 45-degree-rotated view. You picked up reagents for a spell that would stop your nighttime lycanthropy, and each set of item locations offered a markedly different puzzle. The FDS version, which probably had to simplify some things due to memory constraints, tried to stretch itself with ungodly repetition. It achieved dilution, as anyone smart enough to solve its puzzles would see quickly. "
Knight Lore was a breakout ZX Spectrum game where you walked through a huge castle presented in 45-degree-rotated view. You picked up reagents for a spell that would stop your nighttime lycanthropy, and each set of item locations offered a markedly different puzzle. The FDS version, which probably had to simplify some things due to memory constraints, tried to stretch itself with ungodly repetition. It achieved dilution, as anyone smart enough to solve its puzzles would see quickly.
It certainly tries for greater density at first. Each stage has eleven screens. One has the ghostly wizard, where he shows the item you need next. A swarm of pluses chases you in the nighttime, but during daytime, you can drop your item off in the center. The wizard shows you the next item, and off you go. The other ten screens each have a treasure to bring back. The order is fixed for each stage. Each room also has a number, which directly relates to the item in it. Each stage organizes the rooms in a different maze. Well, until they get to the eighth and ninth. Those are tackier than the green lederhosen forced on your hero, but more on them later.
No puzzle to get any one item is too tricky. Flames run in squares, ghosts try to follow you but get stuck, and swarms bounce about. Touching any of them is death, but (A)-Select kills everyone in one room per level. You have the expected spikes to jump over and conveyors. Sometimes you'll find quicksand squares that take you back to room 10x+1, which is right next to the wizard. Occasionally you'll need to stand on one item to jump to another ledge. Other times, you'll need to jump on a moving platform, to reach the item on a lone pedestal.
Impatience is probably your biggest enemy here, and you're more likely to lose all five lives before you run out of the eighty days given. You can move through about four rooms a day, and with infinite continues and save features, scoping them out isn't hard. Moving from the cauldron room to each other one and back, even with quicksand, gets old. The nights drag on enough, you'll spend long stretches waiting to turn back to a boy, and worse, when you do change, it's unexpected, because it occurs when the sun or moon is a quarter across the indicator screen in the corner. You freeze, but everything else doesn't. It's a great way to die.
And on later levels it gets worse. One item will change into a teleport diamond, which sends you back to the stage you thought you'd finally ditched for good. The item is in the same place, though in one puzzle you need to use two item slots. The backgrounds change each stage, from trees to fire to ice to squares, but then you notice they just flipped the palette from a while back. Then one room seems suspiciously like another early on. Then two rooms in a later level are identical except for where the item is.
Repetition reaches its peak at stage eight, identical to level one, except the items are invisible and moved around each room. Still, it's a different challenge, and scouring each room to find an invisible item is an acceptable challenge once. It's slightly more fun for searching for a lost pen, at least. It makes a decent enough finale--but not done twice in a row, even with the items shuffled. Solving this level gives the dumbest post-stage cut-scene yet: your hero, up close and pixillated, flailing his arms up and down.
Only that's not it. That "1-" in each room should have been a tip-off. Level 2 featured the same rooms, with invisible items in different location. Your guy's lederhosen are red in the final scene, and you win for real. Seeking a different puzzle, I hex-edited and found the byte to tweak to pass through in a minute. Later I found the invisible items' locations. So I know where to find the items, if I ever want to track through the second level. I may, actually; Knight Lore features decent backgrounds and puzzles early on but, unfortunately, it tries to get away with plagiarizing itself when it's already heavy on backtracking. After a few months, I'll stumble on a far worse game, and the half-forgotten puzzles may be interesting again. Not now, though.
Community review by aschultz (July 12, 2009)
Andrew Schultz used to write a lot of reviews and game guides but made the transition to writing games a while back. He still comes back, wiser and more forgiving of design errors, to write about games he loved, or appreciates more, now.
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