Entombed (Ultimate) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing


By Ultimate
Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #3

Incredibly absorbing, addictive, original arcade-adventure


As the cassette reaches the end and loading nears completion, you say to yourself 'I wonder if Ultimate have done it again?'. Once the game has finally loaded and you've pressed the fire button to start, your heart sinks and you think: 'They haven't - it's Karnath revisited'.

But they have and it isn't. You soon find that getting out of the first location isn't quite so simple as you initially thought. When, hours later, you've fully explored and sussed the first few levels, you realise that Entombed is one of the most original and entertaining aardvarks (arcade-adventures) ever to hit the 64 (or any other machine, come to think of it).

The game retains the character of Sir Arthur Pendragon and some of the graphics from Staff of Karnath, but any similarities stop there. Whereas Karnath was relatively small, Entombed is large and complex - the total playing area is some 175 screens in size. Whereas Karnath included puzzles made difficult purely by being obscure, the puzzles in Entombed have logical and sometimes spectacular solutions. Indeed, the kick you'll get from sussing parts of this game is about as great as any computer game will ever give you.

The action is set in an ancient Egyptian tomb, from which Sir Arthur must escape. It has the same basic appearance as Karnath, except that everything has an Egyptian flavour. Highly detailed and authentic 3D background scenery adorns every location - complete with some excellent hieroglyphics which lend an incredible atmosphere to the game. The sprites used, unfortunately, are of the same quality as Karnath, ie fairly large and crude, but with some great animation - just watch Sir Arthur jump!

The tomb has several levels, each composed of a network of corridors and antechambers, the corridors having many turnings and dead ends. Various nasties frequent the corridors and devious puzzles lie within the chambers.

While in the corridors, Sir Arthur can breathe freely. When in one of the chambers on the other hand, there is a limited supply of air to breathe and this is indicated by a percentage displayed on screen. Should he stay in one room for too long and the air percentage should reach zero, then one complete life will be lost (you start with five).

Contact with any form of nasty will deplete one of your lives by a certain amount. Each life starts off displayed as white, and this gets gradually darker until the life is lost. Needless to say, once all five lives are lost the game is over. However, every fifth crow which flies overhead carries life-giving 'ankh', which you may be able to jump and grab.

The 3D viewpoint is the same as that in Karnath: a sort of cut away side-on view of a location is shown. As before, when moving left or right the screen scrolls smoothly in the same direction, to follow the action. It's also possible to move 'in' and 'out' of the screen as in Karnath, except this time a slightly different approach is used: When you're in a left/right corridor and you move into one of the passages visible, going into or out of the screen, the viewpoint flicks round by 90 degrees. So, instead of showing a view of you walking into the screen, you are shown moving across the screen again, with the passage you just left now at right-angles to the screen.

This shuffling of viewpoints can prove difficult to get to grips with at first, and makes mapping awkward. But needless to say, as with most aardvarks, without a map you're liable to become hopelessly lost (which is why we're printing ours overleaf.)

Sir Arthur is controlled in the same manner as before - with the joystick plus occasional use of the space-bar - only this time there are no spells used to perform functions such as fighting and moving things. Instead, the space-bar is used to select one of three actions: jump, use the magical whip, or use the torch. Pressing the fire button will then perform the action currently displayed, although the latter two can be used only after you've found the relevant equipment. The whip is easily found on the first level, but the torch isn't quite so easy to get (sorry, no clues).

There are a number of objects to be found within the chambers, should you solve the puzzles surrounding them. All of these are useful, if only to help you obtain other, more important objects. It's a very long sequence of events before you find the object you need to escape the tomb and end the game.

Most of the chambers are tough to crack and so some helpful clues are provided throughout the game. These clues come in the form of cryptic hints on scrolls and aren't given away just like that. No, they're obtained in the same way as the objects - with difficulty! When you actually find a scroll, the clue on it is displayed at the top of the screen for a couple of seconds.

The sound effects are fairly good, but nothing to get excited about, although there is the occasional good and rather unusual one. The game loads in the same annoying manner as Karnath - it stops half way through loading to play a reasonable piece of authentic sounding music and won't continue to load any further until you press a key.

As is the case with all Ultimate games, the packaging is of a high standard and the instructions atmospheric but deliberately obscure (although I must say these were some of the more helpful Ultimate instructions I've come across). The scene is set with an intriguing explanation as to why Sir Arthur is in the predicament he's in and there's the usual tantalising list of game features.

The only real criticism of the game, applies to all aardvarks, indeed all adventures. Getting stuck can be almost unbearably frustrating, and once solved, you may not want to return to it.

However, there is a clock which means you can always to solve it in a shorter time - and in any case, you won't complete the game without first enjoying many, many hours of classy, demanding, atmospheric, exhilarating action.

The Tomb Inhabitants

MOSQUITOES. Materialise in the corridors and fly back and forth in a predictable up and down pattern for a short time. Unless whipped or avoided, will deplete your lives.

FLIES. As above.

MUMMIES. Materialise in a similar manner to the above, only pace back and forth along the corridor, arms outstretched, causing problems unless dealt with or avoided.

CROWS. Appear in the same fashion as the Mosquito etc., only these don't harm you. Fly from left to right until they dematerialise at the edge of the screen, occasionally carrying a life-enhancing 'Ankh'.

SCORPIONS. Appear on the floor of the corridors and scuttle after you, depleting your life force should one hit you. Whip it or skip it.

SNAKES. Found in some of the anterooms. Move predictably back and forth along pathways, and must be jumped or avoided to prevent partial loss of a life.

CLOUDS. Found in an anteroom very deep in the tomb. Move back and forth above ground in a similar way to snakes, only they flash lightning periodically. Should you be touching the cloud when this happens, your lives will suffer.

BOULDERS. Only found in certain antechambers. Some roll along pathways and harm on contact, whilst others can be moved in one way or another.

OTHERS. There are various authentic-looking statues of Egyptian Gods, obelisks, bull-heads, and sarcophagi scattered about the place, none of which harm you, but some of which block vital doorways.

The Original Features

One of the main things that sets aside from all other currently available arcade-adventures is the number of highly original features it contains:

THE WHIP. Not only is it used to dispose of any nasties you might encounter, but also to move objects around.

THE TORCH. Just wait till you see it in action! Some of the rooms are in complete darkness, and it's only possible to tell what's in them by having, and using, the torch. You can actually guide a realistically revealing torch beam around the room and see what you are missing! The effect is stunning.

INVISIBILITY. Used in a couple of instances to make things a lot harder. In one room you're made totally invisible and have to find your way through a winding footpath, collect an object in order to leave the room, and then find your way back again!

LAVA POOLS. There are three of these in one room - one is deadly, one turns you invisible, the other makes you visible again. You have o figure out how to use these pools to get through the room and deeper into the tomb.

SARCOPHAGUS. This is a closed coffin, found in several rooms and containing an abject. The problem is how to open it. In one such room there's a sun on one side and a moon on the other, a jar and a green bird that flies past dropping glowing 'objects'. If one of the objects lands on you, then you lose energy - so what are they for? Aha . . . .

GHOSTS. These appear in one incredibly atmospheric room - there are four of them (making brilliantly effective wailing noises) along with a coffin, which is too high for you to reach. As soon as you step towards it, the ghosts' cry increases in pitch until you get too close, when they zoom in towards you, knocking off energy until they get you. Solving this room will send your pulse rate into three figures.

MOVING PLATFORMS. They appear in several rooms and are a key to solving puzzles. The problem is how you get them to move!

TRAPS. Some rooms feature sliding gates, which fall behind you. You then have to work out how to get through, or get back out.

GONGS. These form the basis of another great puzzle. Ring 'em right (they have a wonderful ringing tone), or you won't get through.

Oh No! Bugs!?!

Way down in the depths of the tomb is a room containing a crocodile, which seemed to behave very strangely. Basically, there appears to be a cheat which allows you to obtain the room's contents simply by walking past the entrance and then doubling back and entering. Also, sometimes when you tackle the room in the way you are supposed to, you immediately lose lives for no apparent reason.

Fortunately, the room, although useful, isn't essential in solving the adventure, so the apparent bugs can be put down as a minor blemish.


Oooohh! I'm knackered. I played this game for 16 hours yesterday, stopping only for food, nicotine and the type of coffee that strips paint. Exploring and mapping this fabulous game is both stimulating and tiring, through the lows of defeat to the exhilaration of finally solving one of the many horrendously difficult puzzles. A truly classic game, containing some amazing backdrops. Brilliant one, guaranteed to keep you in company of owls for weeks.


Wow! Great! Amazing! Incredible! (Get the idea?) This is without doubt THE aardvark for the 64 or any other home micro. I loved the graphics, the fighting is terrific, and I found the puzzles absorbing, devious, frustrating and, above all, addictive. If Ultimate keep improving on the 64 the way they did on the Speccy, then their next one could be miraculous. This one is brilliant enough as it is.


This game had me thoroughly engrossed from the very first location. My mind longed to explore and my itchy fingers ached to map it. I got an immense kick out of solving some of the excellent and perplexing puzzles, but I felt somewhat disappointed and cheated by the anticlimactic finish to the game. Still, a brilliant game and a must for any aardvark fan.


Presentation 83%
More helpful instructions than usual but same silly loader.

Originality 94%
Initially looks like Karnath but in fact has much more.

Graphics 92%
Brilliant hieroglyphics and enemies and some marvellous rooms.

Hookability 97%
Solving the puzzles gives an incredible kick.

Sound 58%
Great sound effects on whip and some rooms, but no game music.

Lastability 91%
Lots of devious puzzles and levels that really take some working out.

Value For Money 93%