Commodore User1st February 1986
Published in Commodore User #30
Sir Arthur (yawn) Pendragon is at it again. After battling the nasties in Staff Of Karnath, journeying to Egypt in Entombed, and sailing the high seas in Blackwyche until - undaunted - he arrives on a hostile island, home of the evil Skull of Souls.
Ultimate have been dragging out this tale a bit too long. I can't be the only person who has become less than enthralled by the latest instalments in the continuing saga of Arthur Pendragon.
Rather like a once-good soap opera that has gone off the boil Pendragon games arrive with dreary regularity. Please Ultimate let it end now.
Part four of the saga does actually offer a new game play mechanism - icons. These picture symbols are used by Sir Arthur to select certain tools, like the magic cloak and shovel.
In order to select these tools you have to move a finger pointer on screen by pressing the space bar. This means you have to sit quite near the C64 when playing the game - not too comfortable for this type of drawn-out arcade adventure.
I'll give you a tip to get you into the game as the first puzzle is frustratingly unintelligent. What you have to do to get beyond the skull guarding the entrance to the underground complex is walk to the left until you can touch the starfish on the ground. This lifts the skull to let you enter.
It's now icon time as you select your 'Magical Orb'. This is actually your nasty-zapper - and there are plenty of them too, as you would expect from Ultimate. These take the shape of Jumping Eyeballs, Wasps, Devils, Warrior Ants, Skull Bats, Salamander Archers and Dragons Eggs.
Your first major hurdle is a fire spitting Dragon who is belching flames at you from across a bridge. Several direct hits are required before this beast disintegrates so that you can pass.
A nice early shoot-'em-up, this - which boded well for the rest of the game.
The enjoyment was not sustained for long though when, soon after - I arrived at an apparently insurmountable obstacle. Another bridge - with four scrolling screens to the left, and to the right - both ending in dead ends. You have to get across that bridge. To do this you have to shift the skull blocking your path and - just one more tip, you can blast away at the nasties until the cows come home and the skull will still be there.
What you have to do is shoot the fierce native who is lobbing spears at you from the other side of the bridge - not once but eight times. To do this, you can use the usual trick of dodging off and then back onto the screen to ensure that he will always be in the same place.
The shovel comes in handy and is worth finding as soon as you start the game. You can use it to dig up the graves scattered around the play area to win extra lives. Caution needs to be employed here though as you might just dig up a ghost.
There are plenty of these hair-wrenching puzzles in Dragonskulle and certainly the same is the toughest of the Pendragon series. Apart from its toughness it loses out by comparison with some of its predecessors. The graphics are not as pretty as Entombed and Blackwyche and you would have thought by now that Ultimate would have done something about the appalling animation of Sir Arthur. If anything, it's worse than ever in this episode.
I can't recommend this game. The challenge is a tough one but very uninteresting. A disappointing conclusion to what was a very good series of games. Best Pendragon game is still Blackwyche.