Many moons ago in a hidden valley between the purple mountains and the seas of the Seven Islands there was a great calamity: darkness descended upon that land, evil overran all that was good and death and hunger spread. Those who remained became twisted and striken with evil and the village in that valley became possessed with powers so black that nobody dared enter.
Years later the story became leg end and only the songs and tales remained of those who had tried to enter the valley never to return... for those who trespass into the village become enslaved by the immense power of the evil Overlord.
After listening to the story of the battle with the forces of evil in the Nightshade village one night, you decide to set off down the valley... and thus the scene is set for the latest Ultimate game.
Nightshade is yet another arcade adventure utilising similar 'Filmation' programming techniques to those in Knight Lore and Alien 8. This gives a realistic 3D panoramic view of what's going on around you.
The program differs from the last two games in that the scenery scrolls rather than 'flicks' as you move from one location to another and there are no objects which you can shunt about and use whilst playing.
The game itself is set in a typical mediaeval village, complete with ancient looking houses, streets, barns, churches and the like. As you walk down the streets you can see the facias of the buildings in detail, with walls, gables and windows. If you like the look of a building then you can enter it through its door. When you do so the front of the buildinp will disappear showing what is behind - useful as it lets you see what you're doing.
Most of the buildings are connected so you can travel from one to the other by moving through the series of doors and rooms inside. Many of the buildings also have back doors allowing you to go through to the street behind.
Throughout the village there are loads of marauding thingies which rush after you and try to take one of your five men. Each man can be hit three times by a nasty, the fourth touch will resu It in him being lost. When you start with a new life he is white, when hit again he turns yellow, then green; the next touch after that turns him into a puff of smoke and he disappears.
The marauding thingies are all excellently animated and vary from small jelly like bacteria which slide along the ground to huge gremlin types which give chase waving their arms and generally disport themselves in a loathesome and revolting manner.
Your man looks a little like the knight from Atic Atac and he's extremely well animated as he wanders about. There are some nice touches too: for instance when he bangs into a wall he puts his hands up to protect himself. He's not defenceless either and can throw things at the nasties to protect himself as he travels around. These 'antibodies' (varying from sticks to what looks like the end of a mace) can be picked up from the rooms of just about any building. Running over them will automatically put them into a tube at the side of the screen. The tube only holds a limited number of objects so it has to be replenished very regularly to increase your (very slim) chances of survival. There are extra lives which can be picked up and there are also boots which, when collected, allow you to run at high speeds for a short while.
When you throw an antibody at a nasty it doesn't always kill it straight off. Some of the bigger ones need to be shot several times with an antibody. The gremlin, for example, splits into two smaller creatures which again have to be shot. The smaller creatures then turn into a bubbling mess which still gives chase until shot for the final time. Thankfully you don't have to go through this rigmarole every time you shoot something - most, like the flames, smaller sliding things and squat, toad-like creatures die immediately after being shot once.
The object of the game is to find and pick up the four super antibodies (bible, hammer, cross and egg timer). Once found you have to track down the four evil characters which run the show (the monk, the skeleton, the ghost and Mr Grimreaper) and throw the correct super antibody at it. If you can do that then the village will be freed from the evil which has ruled there for so long and everybody will live happily ever after... until the next Ultimate game, anyway!