Your Spectrum
Issue 20, November 1985 - Fairlight & Nightshade
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Fairlight is a land of mystery and magic with a castle that holds as many secrets as Castle Rathbone. It's also the new game from The Edge - Simon Forman has come under its spell.


loading screen

Welcome to the loading screen for Fairlight. If you study it very closely it'll help you fill in the gaps in your own map. And have no illusions, you'll have to draw a map if you're to get anywhere in the game. Just to spur you on in those moments after midnight when you know there's only one more room to go, if only you could find the key, The Edge has come up with a wizard idea for a compo. So, here's the scam - the first ten YS readers to send in a complete map of Fairlight will receive free membership of the Edge Connection. You'll get a T-shirt, Fairlight poster and the offer of discounts off all future Edge games, including Fairlight II, the follow-up. And tucked away at the bottom of the jiffy bag will be a free copy of The Artist, the graphics package that got such a rave review in YS 15. And if you look at the title screen, you can see why - it was created using The Artist. Not surprising really, 'cos both programs were written by the same programmer, Bo Jangeborg!
Things haven't been too rosy recently in the Land of Fairlight - war, murder, plague, famine. You know the sort of thing! Well, now you've got the chance to do something about it. Imprisoned in the Castle Avars is the magician whose Book of Light can make the sun shine once more - and guess who the task of freeing him has fallen too? Got it in one, so can stop sloping off. After all, you might miss out on the best arcade adventure of the year - maybe the game of the year!
Fairlight is a true adventure, not just one in name. There are eighty-odd locations, a mystery to solve and hidden objects to uncover and use. But it all takes place in stunning 3D graphics. Here are caves and courtyard, dungeons and drawbridges, towers and secret rooms - all pieces of a jigsaw that'll fit together to form a perfect castle.
You'll soon suss out that the magician you've got to rescue is holed up in one of the towers. It's getting up there that's the problem - your path's blocked by a monk-like ghoul who will not budge. So,
it's off round the castle, exploring all the rooms, finding keys to the locked doors, collecting crowns and books and bags of gold. But you're not the only one wandering within the walls - beware the soldiers, trolls, magic bubbles and monks, all of them out to do you a mischief.
The atmosphere of the medieval castle is captured by the programmer, Bo Jangeborg using his Worldmaker Technique. This has added an extra dimension of realism to the game that you won't have come across before. You'll find that objects weigh differently just like in real life. When you move an object, leave and then return to a room, it doesn't reset but stays just where you put it. And best of all you can pick up all the objects you find and use them in any of the other rooms.
Different from the Ultimate megagames, huh? Alien 8 and Knight Lore are more puzzle games - each room poses a problem that you've got to overcome. Fairlight is one big problem - but you'll have one helluva time trying to solve it!
cryptic clues tower block hiding places


Two games in the three dimensions - Fairlight and Nightshade. Dave Nicholls ventures into the code.

Hmmm, Fairlight and Nightshade, day and night, light and shade. You know from the titles that these two games are going to be related somehow - two sides of the same coin, that sort of thing. And, of course, the thing they've got in common is 3D.
The biggest problem facing any 3D programmer is how to store all that data. It's bad enough in ordinary games - the sprites and backgrounds take up enormous amounts of space. In three dimensional games, it's a nightmare. The programmer has to find space to store info relating to all the positions of objects and meanies, as well as having more sprite frames for each character because of the different orientations.
For all that, Nightshade isn't too much of a problem. There are 1024 'rooms' in the village (though you don't seem to be able to get into all of them) but each room takes up very little space. That's because all you need to know is which side the doors are on and which of the small selection of walls to use. You also have to keep track of a few meanies and special objects. Ultimate uses its now customary table technique with a small entry for each room and a larger table for the meanies
containing their type and current positions. As usual the programming is slick but yawn, it's so boring - all the emphasis is on increasing speed without losing structure.
Fairlight is much more interesting even though the techniques that Bo Jangeborg uses for screen handling aren't up to Ultimate's standards. This is the first game, for example, I've seen for a long time that uses an LDIR instruction to move the screen buffer from memory to where you can see it It's much more usual now to use special routines that draw line by line upwards from the bottom. This avoids any problems with the screen refresh that occurs every fiftieth of a second. Still, the fact that you can move objects from room to room and leave them there means the program structure looks much more like an adventure than any other similar game that I've looked at.
So, how's it done? Well, several tables are used to store the data while the objects are kept in one 1000 byte block. Here the entries detail the room location and the 3D co-ordinates within - that's how objects can be stacked on top of one another, for example. The table that stores the backgrounds is in a special format so that it doesn't waste space - when you have to find somewhere to store a whole 6912 byte screen buffer, space is very important! Each entry starts with a two byte number which is the length of the entry. To find a particular room, you start with the first entry; if it's not the one you want, you add the length bytes onto the current position to look at the next one and so on until you find it. Each entry itself is divided up into similar sub-
tables that say what goes where in the room.
One side effect of all this space saving is that the initial set up of the screen is very complicated. It involves setting up the background and then laboriously searching the object table until all the objects in the room are found and put in their proper places. Also, they have to be found in the right order so that 'hidden' objects stay hidden. So, when you're staring at the blank screen as you pass from room to room, spare a thought for the Z80 - it's working overtime to get the new room on screen as quickly as possible.
All in all, both programs are extremely competent. Still, I can't help feeling that Nightshade could've done with being a bit more involved while Fairlight would've benefited from Ultimate's skill with the screen. From the hacking point of view, Fairlight is much more rewarding and I've a hunch that Hacking Away will be choc-a- bloc with POKEs for it next month. But just to be going on with, here's a short program that'll give you infinite lives on Nightshade - and it's short because Ultimate has given Speedlock a miss this time round.

100 FOR x=1 to 5: LOAD "" CODE: NEXT x
110 POKE 53442,0: POKE 53443,12

All you have to do is type in the short Basic loader, run it and play your master tape through from the beginning. The original Basic loader will now be ignored. Now play till you drop!

Plague and pestilence, death and destruction. You'll find them all in Ultimate's newie, Nightshade. Sounds like a job for Sabreman - with help from Teresa Maughan!

Imagine a deserted village, lost in time, enveloped by an evil force. Here, hideously foul creatures roam the streets, flesh falling from their rotting bodies. Sounds like the new Michael Jackson video, eh? It's actually the scenario for Nightshade.
The game is set in a world of death and decay. The only life forms are mad monks, gruesome ghouls, deadly demons and mutant monsters. It's your awesome task to release the Kingdom of Nightshade from the grips of an evil curse that's brought plague to the land. There are four objects for you to locate that'll wipe out the four main nasties and lift the curse.
Sounds simple, huh? Well, you'll have to avoid swarms of nasties such as lethal germs, gyrating blobs and maniacal meanies. Touch them and they'll infect you with the fatal disease - but fortunately you don't die straight away, you just turn a bit of a funny colour!
To defend yourself, you must go inside the rooms and collect various antibodies to fire at the nasties - but be warned, you've gotta be quick on the trigger.
The graphics are well up to the usual Ultimate standard. The village is built up of beautifully drawn houses - and as you enter them the walls disappear so you can check up on all that's happening inside. The gooks and goblins don't have the evil aspect that the scenario suggests but they sure are some of the cutest you're ever likely to encounter. And the scrolling is nothing short of superb - you won't have seen it faster or more flicker-free.
It has to be said, though, that Nightshade is a couple of steps back from Alien 8 and Knight Lore. As an arcade adventure, the adventure element is almost non-existent - the game is much more a good ol' shoot 'em-up with the added excitement of 3D scrolling and a vast area to wander around in. Trouble is you may find the game becomes tedious unless you're heavily into mindless alien bashing.
But having said that, you have to remember that Ultimate hasn't yet come up with a naff game - and though Nightshade's not their best, it certainly can't be classed as a duffer.
Don't be tempted - this monster's tantalising touch will leave you feeling mighty queasy! Attack with an anti-body and be warned, it takes a lot to kill off these Ken Dodd look-alikes. Potion Power! This special brew refreshes the parts other potions can't reach. You'll feel like a new man again after just one sup! Go easy though, this liquor is pretty scarce. What kills all known germs dead? Spirals of course! These particular antibodies are wafting about in various rooms. so stand in a corner if you want increased antibody attraction.
These strange-looking blobs are your collection of antibodies. Let them attack the baddies' defences to protect yourself, hut remember to keep your supply well topped-up. Who's this handsome beast? My, it's you of course! - Sporting a rather fetching helmet and looking like you're ready for anything ... On second thoughts, all those furtive glances over the shoulder make you seem pretty paranoid!
These boots sure weren't made for walkin'. Step on this to give your weary pins a boost! Now you can hot-foot it round the village in double quick time without falling prey to the local nasties. This chap may look harmless, but watch him shift! Shooting him only gets him out the way for a few seconds, and what's worse, he'll soon be joined by a bunch of cronies. The objects tend to blend in with the background, so keep your eyes opened! Yikes, it's the hooded- monk, not a very Holy one either. He's just one of the demons you've got to destroy using either the cross, the hammer, the bible or the egg-timer.
Cross your heart and hope not to die! Take up the cross and search out that mad monk. The cross'll flash when he's near, so you can home in for the kill. Don't get trigger happy as you'll destroy the cross before he appears ... If you didn't get your Scouts or Brownies orienteering badge, then there's a compass to help you locate the objects. That's fine if you've got time to use the thing!
At least the scenery's pleasant, even if the inhabitants aren't! There's a whole mini-town to explore if you get tired of zapping those aliens. "Them bones, them bones, them dry bones!" The hammer's the thing to fend off this foul fiend of a skeleton ... Spooky man! Even the skeleton's scared of this spook. Use your bible to dispel this spirit or you'll find he'll turn you into ghoulash ...
Back to the biology lab to learn about the four types of antibodies. Spirals, spinners, globes and bubbles - sound more like fun fair props than deadly weapons! Their effectiveness varies, so just keep blasting! Once wiped out, the dastardly demons will change colour ... the mad monk has gone a putrid shade of purple. What a nasty habbit..!
This 'Gremlins reject' ain't as much fun as he looks. Just watch him multiply and go on the rampage! Don't shoot with spirals - spinners are your best bet here. This jelly-like blob is rife with some vile disease, so keep your distance. Stay out of reach of the germs, acid pools and spikers too ... they're not nice! You could find yourself turning yellow ... then green if you're not killed outright by one of these dreaded creatures ... Yuk!
Losing a life is a colourful experience - you'll go a wonderful shade of blue. Once you've lost five lives, It's curtains! This is your hit list - go for that mad monk, the grim reaper, the ghost and the skeleton! When you've blasted the lot, they'll he plunged into a fearful black abyss and you'll be freed from the evil curse ... until the next game!
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