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Released: 1987

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Commodore 64

Publisher: Activision

Developer: MD Software

One of the disadvantages of working with younger people is that they missed out on excellent kids TV shows like Knightmare. We used to be endlessly enthralled by the adventures of the hapless kids that Treguard would introduce to the dungeon, particularly as the show was so ridiculously hard. Unfortunately, only a few of our colleagues remember it.

What we don’t remember with such fondness was the computer game adaptation of the show. In principle, the idea was brilliant, and the presentation suggests some very cool ideas – we like the way book pages flick over as you enter each new room, and the candle lifebar is excellent. Unfortunately, actually playing the game was little more than an exercise in frustration.

The game employs the joystick to move your character and text-based commands to perform actions, though the commands themselves are actually input using the initial letter of each word, followed by space to cycle through options. It’s a relatively clunky way of doing business, given that you have access to a full keyboard but are discouraged from using it by the control scheme.

What was worse than the control scheme though, was the absolutely infuriating puzzle design. The first screen requires you to take some food and give it to the old man who shares your cell, who complains that he is wasting away. But with that done, he still won’t help – largely because you haven’t given him any water, which you haven’t picked up (and indeed, can’t). You just already have it. No wonder so few people ever got off the first screen…

If you’re curious about the making of the Knightmare TV show as well as this game and the 16-bit game that arrived a few years down the line, pick up Retro Gamer issue 90 at GreatDigitalMags.com to read The Making Of Knightmare!