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DoctorSpuds Reviews Things - Sir Lancelot (Xonox)


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Well now if this isn’t a sight to behold, we’re back in the land of Xonox. These guys produced some of the most advanced, and beautiful games on the 2600, and they packaged them in a very unique way. When it comes to exotic cartridges Xonox has the competition beat with their Double Ender cartridges, each side has a different game and the things are massive. Playaround also did double ended cartridges but we don’t like to talk about them, since Xonox did it first and they did it best. I have only reviewed one Xonox game so far, that being Ghost Manor, I do have the Ghost Manor/Spike’s Peak Double Ender but seeing as Spike’s Peak is an unplayable lump of frustration I’ll have to postpone that review indefinitely. I was recently contacted by a fellow you may know on the forum, CaptainBreakout, with an offer “I have this cart, could you review these games?” (It was worded far more politely, this is just the highly abridged version) to which I responded “HELL YEAH!” (Again highly abridged), I had always wanted to review these games I had just never been lucky enough to find one for a low enough price, which CaptainBreakout was willing to offer. So know I have the games and am ready to review them, I’m going to start with the smallest of the two, Sir Lancelot, since I’m going to need quite a bit of time to review the giant that is Robin Hood.

The graphics of Sir Lancelot are quite advanced for the 2600 but on the spectrum of Xonox titles it may actually have the simplest graphics overall. You start the game and you’ll immediately have your eyes drawn to that fantastic looking sunset, the rolling hills and the castle in between, it may not look as good as the Ghost Manor in Ghost Manor it still gets the job done, actually I wonder if it’s possible to transplant the Ghost Manor into Sir Lancelot. The sprite for the titular Lancelot is tiny, 8X8 pixels, but at the same time fantastically detailed, it has four colors, white for his flying horse, black for the lance, red for the armor, and a salmon-pink for his plume. The enemies you fight on your quest are quite varied, on the first ‘play action’ screen you fight the Flying Snakes, which look really good, the second are the Monster Bees, the third are the Killer Dragonflies, and the fourth are the invisible invincible which are basically a flying hitbox with no sprite attached since they’re, y’know invisible. All of these creatures have a unique sprite that fits the name quite well despite the tiny sprite size. The second screen is the interior of the castle where you will showdown with hands down the best dragon of the console ever, sure it may look vaguely like a Pterodactyl but that simply adds to its uniqueness. Lancelot’s sprite does change when he enters the castle, the horse turns from white to grey and his armor and lance turn a very crispy brown. The lava pit has a very hypnotic raster bar effect that despite not looking remotely like lava still feels just as threatening, if not more so. The sprite for the maiden could look better; it’s the same brown as Lancelot’s armor and looks more like a chair than a person. Overall this game looks pretty darn good, but as we all know a game can’t just be supported by its looks it has to have the gameplay and the sounds to back it up.

Sir Lancelot doesn’t have any music to speak of but it has beeps galore. Most of this game’s sounds are bust beeps of different pitches and frequencies, but at the same time none of it seems phoned in, all of the sounds, despite being beeps, are very complex. Almost every action has a corresponding beep, from you hitting the top of the screen right down to you touching down and hearing a little skidding noise as your horse comes to a stop. It’s the sort of soundtrack that you don’t notice since it fits in with everything so well but when you do listen in your reaction is probably “eh that’s not so bad.”

Gameplay, this is where a game either succeeds or fails, you can have the best looking game on the planet but if it isn’t fun to play then it doesn’t matter how good it looks. Sir Lancelot thankfully is a fun game to play, it seems very much like the illicit love child of Joust and Dragonfire. When you begin in the play action screens you will face off against four enemies, in screen one it’s the Flying Snakes how simply fly in a single direction without variation, all you have to do is mash that fire button and build up momentum and skewer the things with your lance. Hitting things with your lance is a bit difficult since there are some reles you may not be aware of if you don’t have the manual. The destroy and enemy you must make contact with your lance, if you hit them from behind you automatically kill them, if they are facing you the one who is higher is the winner, but you can’t be too high otherwise you’ll hit them with the horse and you’ll die, sometimes you’ll bounce off of an enemy, be grateful when it happens because you were a pixel away from losing a life. Enemy behavior changes from screen to screen, the snakes won’t pose much of a challenge but the Monster Bees will turn around on occasion making back attacks difficult, and the Killer Dragonflies not only move back and forth but they also will change altitude, the Invisible Invinsibles are like the Killer Dragonflies except they’re faster and they’re invisible, so good luck there. Inside the castle where you face off against the Pteranadragon you don’t face off against it directly, you must actually skewer it from beneath since it is hiding behind an energy shield like a coward dropping fireballs on your head. If you are hit by a fireball you will not die but you will lose control, if you land in the pit you lose a life, but if you land on solid ground you can get back up and try again without losing a life. Each new dragon gets faster and harder to hit as their hitbox gets smaller and their fireballs get more numerous, from what I can tell the final dragon Hanek the Horrible is basically impossible.

All in all Sir Lancelot is a fun game, if you enjoyed Joust that you’re likely to get a kick out of this one, the controls may be a bit floatier but that was something that annoyed me about joust in the first place so that just makes me like the Sir Lancelot all the more. I will forego purchasing information today since I’m reviewing its companion game tomorrow and will put purchasing info at the end of that review, considering that this is an R8 you know that it’s gonna make your toes curl.

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