Knight Lore

Infobox VG| title = Knight Lore

developer = Tim and Chris Stamper
publisher = Ultimate Play The Game
designer =
engine = Filmation
released = 1984 (Spectrum)
1985 (Amstrad CPC)
Nov/Dec 1985 (MSX) ["Knight Lore, Alien 8 and Nightshade" MSX pre-release promotional brochure, published by Ultimate Play The Game in October 1985. Available to view at World of Spectrum: [] ]
genre = Arcade adventure; Maze
modes = Single player
ratings = N/A
platforms = ZX Spectrum
BBC Micro
Amstrad CPC
Famicom Disk System (Japan only)
media = Cassette (Spectrum, Amstrad, BBC, MSX)
Cartridge (MSX, Japan only)
Floppy disc (Famicom Disk System)
requirements = 48K RAM (Spectrum)
64K RAM (Amstrad CPC)
32K RAM (BBC Model B)
16K RAM (MSX cartridge)
input = Keyboard, joystick
Keyboard only (BBC)

"Knight Lore" is a computer game developed and released by Ultimate Play The Game in 1984. The game is the third in the Sabreman series, following on from his adventures in "Sabre Wulf" and "Underwurlde". Unlike the earlier games in the series it used Ultimate's filmation engine to achieve a 3D look using isometric projection. [cite web | url= | title=Looking For An Old Angle | publisher=Newsfield | work=Crash Magazine, Issue 51 | accessdate=2006-10-03] In the game Sabreman has to find the ingredients for a magic potion. The game was written by Tim and Chris Stamper.

"Knight Lore" was regarded as a revolutionary titlecite book |title=Retro Micro Games Action - The Best of gamesTM Retro Volume 1 |year=2006 |publisher=Highbury Entertainment |chapter=Ultimate Play The Game—Company Lookback |pages=25] and was the first of the "isometric adventure" genre, by displaying a detailed 3D world using isometric perspective cite web | url= | title=Game Graphics During the 8-bit Computer Era | author=Steven Collins | publisher=SIGGRAPH | work=Computer Graphics Newsletters |accessdate=2007-08-16] . It was extensively copied by other publishers, and was described as being the second most cloned piece of software after WordStar [ cite journal|title=Axonometry: a matter of perspective|journal=Computer Graphics and Applications, IEEE|date=Jul/Aug 2000|author=Krikke, J.|volume=20|issue=4|pages=7–11|doi=10.1109/38.851742] .


Typical for an Ultimate release, players are given a tantalising and cryptic introduction :


:My journey's end is near; as the last few ebbs of daylight dance fleetingly in the cooling twilight, and then suddenly dart off to chase the red sinking sun.

:Behind me I feel night's dark icy fingers slither up long looming shadows, hiding behind large mounds and boulders, watching my every move... silently waiting... For days I have journeyed from the realms of the junglewulf to "KNIGHT LORE" castle to seek the old dying wizard and ask for his help to free me from this deathly curse... For countless nights I have slept chained to trees to keep my deathly curse at bay, but now I am here...

:My footsteps echo around the damp mossy walls of the large chamber, as I enter through the open main gateway, colossal doors judder open in an untouched groaning symphony, beckoning me forward on my quest.

:I sense the old wizard's gaze playing upon me, encapsulated within the labyrinth of traps and tests, to keep out all but the most persistent of unwanted guests who seek an audience with the great wizard MELKHIOR.

:Suddenly a cool blue mist starts to ebb forth from the cracks in the ancient stone-work. As it does so it begins to take form and become a powerful swimming swirling vortex of energy. Over all the noise can be heard the chanting and singing of long forgotten tunes, all sung in a blur of forgetfulness.



:The mist suddenly ceases its action and dissipates as quickly as it came.

:I drop to the floor and with full knowledge of the old wizard I begin my quest. Dimly lit torches light the massive stone walls, their tired flickering flames never seeming to penetrate the inky darkness for more than a few feet... crystalline Merkyls, hideous Hobgoblins, stand frozen on huge monoliths, glittering in the cool trembling moonlight.

:Encapsulated by the old wizard long ago, they await their fate in an un-ending task of defence, silent and stony. This is to be their last everlasting fate as guardians of KNIGHT LORE castle, until the ultimate death of the old sorcerer... The moon has risen quickly and in the fullness of its cool blue light, I become a Werewulf...

:My fate is now all too clear, I have but forty days and forty nights to find the old wizard and seek his help and magical instruction, before my tormented soul becomes forever a werewulf."


attribute clash.] Again taking the role of Sabreman, the player must find the wizard Melkhior, then scour "Knight Lore" castle to retrieve the objects successively requested by his cauldron. Once collected, the objects must be returned to Melkhior, and dropped into the waiting cauldron. Successfully following all of the cauldron's requests within a forty day period frees Sabreman from the curse of lycanthropy cast upon him by the Wulf encountered in "Sabre Wulf".

The curse itself plays an important role in gameplay. While beginning the game as Sabreman, the player is periodically transformed into a werewulf as day turns into night (see the sun / moon dial in the bottom right of the screenshots below). At the point of transformation (either to, or from, the werewulf), Sabreman experiences a short, but humorously animated, seizure, and is vulnerable to enemies or hazards. Certain enemies (including Melkhior's cauldron itself) will attack Sabreman when a werewulf, making the timing of certain actions crucial.

In what was revolutionary for its time, the castle is presented as a series of isometric, flip-screen rooms. Negotiating many of these rooms requires good platform skills, especially since some platforms disappear or move when stepped on. In some rooms, objects such as tables or treasure chests (or even the objects collected for the cauldron), need to be used to reach carefully positioned goals (see screenshots below).

Aside from platform-hopping, Sabreman must avoid a series of enemies and hazards. Static beds of spikes and falling spiked metal balls are among the simplest hazards. Malevolent portcullis gates guard many thoroughfares, and are often accompanied by slow-moving, but lethal, guards. Faster moving enemies, such as ghosts and Melkhior's cauldron spirit, provide more dangerous company.

Critical reception

"Knight Lore" received an overwhelmingly positive reception from the gaming press at the time of time of its release. "Amstrad Action" described it as a "stunningly original concept" and praised its addictive gameplay, calling it "without doubt one of the best three games available on the Amstrad". "CRASH" was equally enthusiastic, calling it "incredible, and a joy to play ... simply a great game" and describing the animation as "terrific from the smallest detail right through to Sabreman himself"."Your Sinclair" magazine called it "one of the most important (and best) games ever written for the Speccy". ["Your Sinclair", issue 33, page 86. Dennis Publishing, September 1988]

Retrospective criticism

The game's reputation survives intact to this day and it still receives acclaim as one of the most important and advanced titles of its era. "GamesTM" have hailed it as "seminal" and "revolutionary", while "Gamesmaster" magazine's Adam Norton claims that "this slightly cryptic puzzle/platform adventure defined isometricism in the same way "Super Mario 64" defined 3D". ["Gamesmaster", issue 191, page 41. Future Publishing, November 2007] X360 magazine have said Knight Lore is "one of the most successful and influential games of all time". ["XBOX360 Magazine" supplemental: "Rare - The Ultimate Story", page 9. Highbury Entertainment, 2005.]


* Tim Stamper suggested in an interview that "Knight Lore" was actually completed before its less technically-accomplished prequel "Sabre Wulf"cite web | url= | title=The Best of British | publisher=Newsfield | work=Crash 51 | accessdate=2006-09-14] . However, they delayed its release because "the market wasn't ready for it" :

* However, this chronology has been disputed by an independent analysis of the source code routine used by Ultimate's games for reading keypresses. While this routine has been found to be optimised in all of Ultimate's games from "Knight Lore" onwards, the optimisation is not present in "Sabre Wulf". Given Tim Stamper's chronology for "Sabre Wulf", one would expect otherwise if it had truly been completed after "Knight Lore" [cite web | url= | title=On Filmation - Facts | accessdate=2007-02-16] .

* Although Ultimate Play the Game were primarily associated with European software publication, "Knight Lore" did reach Japanese players in the form of a conversion on the Famicom Disk System (see cover art to the right). Though details of the port's developer are uncertain, its publisher was Jaleco, and it was released on December 19, 1986.


* Martin K. converted the game from ZX Spectrum to Sharp MZ-800 in 1989. It was a monochrome version.
* In 2008 Krzysztof Dudek aka XXL made a version for Atari XL/XE. It is a conversion from the BBC Micro, the title screen was taken from the ZX Spectrum version (as Hi-Res graphics) and was colored with the G2F program. Music was also added to this conversion.
* A conversion / remake of the game [ is being developed] by [ Retrospec] , a popular retro games developer.


External links

* [ "Knight Lore"] at Ultimate Wurlde
* [ A walkthrough video of "Knight Lore" on the ZX Spectrum]
* [ Adds-on] for Atari xl/xe version (maps, *.sap music and instruction)
* [ Knight Lore] download at
* [ Knight Lore page] with map and objects

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