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Sir Lancelot

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Released: 1984

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Melbourne House

Developer: Melbourne House

While the Spectrum’s platform gaming holy trinity of Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and Dynamite Dan sat at the top table, taking all the accolades and plaudits, one platforming gem somehow slipped under many a gamer’s radar.

Sir Lancelot by Melbourne House saw you attempt to progress through 24 rooms of a castle, gathering the treasure as you went and escaping through the exit that appears once it’s been successfully stockpiled.

Originality may not be its strong point, but Sir Lancelot still manages to crowbar a couple of interesting touches into the well-trod formula. For example, you can only move upwards on ladders, which requires a bit of forethought in planning your passage through the screen as you can easily cut yourself off from the treasure, making it inaccessible and forcing you to sacrifice a life to restart. It looks simple but is anything but.

Another quirky touch is the ability to move while falling – no infinite death falls here – allowing you to reach seemingly inaccessible ledges.

The pace of the game is frenetic and for good reason, as the countdown timer fizzes away at such a rate of knots that dawdling around the screen sightseeing just isn’t possible. However, the fast tempo really piles on the pressure and helps push things along nicely.

What is really amazing about the game is, although it looks and plays like a 48K game, it’s actually a 16K release. That’s four more screens than Manic Miner in a third of the space. Does the game suffer for it? Not in the slightest. The graphics are adequate yet cute, and Lancelot is smoothly animated as he bounces around the screens like a hyperactive kid gorging on Sherbet Saucers and full-fat Cola.

The only quibble you could level at Sir Lancelot is when you die. The torturously slow rise from grave to heaven with accompanying funeral march seems to take an absolute eternity. Good job for emulators with 8x speed-up options…

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