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Saboteur! – Commodore 16 Version

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Released: 1986

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Commodore 16/Plus4

Publisher: Durell

Developer: Barney

Submitted by: Barry Lendrum

The classic game which was immensely popular on the bigger systems eventually arrives on the C16. The blurb reads…

You are a saboteur, highly trained in martial arts. You are employed to infiltrate a central security building which is disguised as a warehouse. You must steal a disk that contains the names of all the rebel leaders before its information is sent to the outlying security stations. You are working against the clock, both in getting to the disk, and in making your escape.

What the blurb fails to mention is that you also need to plant a bomb in the warehouse, although this is detailed more in the instruction booklet.

There is a seperate Plus4 only version which I will be reviewing next, but first I shall review the C16 version which also works on the Plus4.

So your main objective is to first locate and pick up the bomb, then locate the disk and swap the disk for the bomb within the given time limit.

Once you've swapped the disk for the bomb, a new timer countdown begins where you have to quickly make your escape by the roof before the bomb explodes. The C16 version does not include the helicopter at the end due to memory limits.

More on the memory limits. The programmers state "Saboteur is a martial arts arcade adventure with 112 different screens, which was originally designed to run on computers with at least 48k of RAM. So to fit it in the C16's much smaller memory we have had to make a number of cuts (for example, you can not kill the guard dogs, or use a joystick). This version occupies almost every single byte available on the C16 – we are sorry for the cuts, but we believe you will still find it very enjoyable to play".

This is fair enough. I'm sure even the best programmers would struggle to fit the full original game within 16K of memory.

However what they fail to tell you is that the playing area and game characters are much smaller. The graphics are extremely crude and there is no sound whatsoever. There are also no cameras which try to shoot you, and the two other main noticeable factors are that there are no trains and no helicopter at the end.

The toughness of the game I feel is a little easier compared to other versions, you don't take damage quite as quickly although it does take a little longer for the energy to replenish itself I feel. At least though that the map is more or less the same as other versions. There are the usual nine skill levels where the bomb is placed in a more difficult to reach location. Also, at least that they give you the actual C16 screenshots on the back of the inlay cover which is quite honest for a software house given the cosmetic state of this conversion.

Your saboteur moves quite well considering, and the game is basically the same as other versions that it does feel a little that you are playing Saboteur, but the limitations of the C16 really seems to let it down but this isn't the fault of Durell.

I applaud them for their effort. They took on a seemingly impossible job and at least made something recognisable including most elements of the game, but it is quite laughable all the same when you compare it to other versions on how it's meant to look.

At the end of the day, there are just some games that just don't really work well enough on an unexpanded C16, but there is some fun factor to be had if only for the lols. It's really not that good a game but I've seen far worse conversions on the humble C16, and if you take the limitations into consideration it actually doesn't play too badly which actually takes some doing.

You can watch the full longplay video HERE!