Format reviewed: Commodore 64
Developer: Greg Duddle
Submitted by: Martin Dodd
Originally released on the Spectrum in 1984, Sabre Wulf finally made it to the Commodore64 one year later courtesy of Firebird. At the time, this conversion disappointed many of the reviewers as the trend now was to push the capabilities of the 8-bit's to new levels and they were hoping for something better. Giving the beige breadbox’s potential, it should have been a truly great conversion, with improved features not found in the rubber keyed original. Issues with its game play, graphics and sound appeared to make it seem dated when compared to some of the other releases during the mid 80’s.
Playing the game today, opinions are somewhat more favourable and it’s not as bad as what the reviewers made it out to be all those years ago. The only issue I found was that Sabre Man stops as you release the controller. On the Spectrum version he keeps moving for a bit and this adds a bit more skill in his handling, it’s only a minor omission and the game is still very playable.
Much like a fine wine Sabre Wulf can now be regarded as a classic. Its colourful graphics, simple controls and the underlying need to explore a vast jungle, still make this one a joy to play even on the C64.
Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum
Publisher: Ultimate Play The Game
Developer: Ultimate Play The Game
Submitted by: Darran Jones
Sabre Wulf marked a number of firsts for me when I originally encountered it back in 1984. It was my first full-price release; finally introduced me to the wonderful games of Ultimate (hey, I was a late starter) and it’s the first and only time in a videogame that I’ve ever been able to run after a giant pink hippo and beat it soundly on the arse!
Heading back to Sabre Wulf now for the purpose of this article and it’s easy to see why I fell in love with it (and why I still harbour a deep fondness for it). Play Sabre Wulf today and you’ll see that it has no pretension at all. It doesn’t try to encumber the player with complicated controls, or offer you unwanted gameplay elements (that are becoming common in far too many games nowadays) it simply disarms you with its captivating design, simple, yet oh so elegant graphics and the sort of intricate mazes that had me going through god knows how many pages of squared paper (I never did finish that damn map).
Indeed, it was Sabre Wulf’s sheer vibrancy that first attracted me to it, and once I started exploring the seemingly alive jungle, I soon became completely enamoured with its oh so subtle atmosphere. Every single screen was awash with detail and filled with all sorts of monstrous creations – I’d even hang around the game’s many clearings, just waiting for that indestructible flame (and the mesmerising noise it made). Searching the expansive map for the four missing pieces of amulet became a joy, not a chore (even though I never found more than three parts), and I soon lost count of the many hours that I spent with the intrepid Sabreman.
Even today, Sabre Wulf still manages to hold a beguiling enchantment over me – so much so that I even forgive Rare for its recent GBA title – and it remains one of my favourite 8-bit titles of all time. Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, or it could be down to how much I spent on it; but in my mind, Sabre Wulf is and always will be utterly superb.