REVIEWS COURTESY OF ZXSR

Nosferatu the Vampyre
by Design Design Software: Graham Stafford
Piranha
1986
Crash Issue 36, Christmas Special 1986/87   (1986-12-10)   page(s) 26,27

Nosferatu The Vampyre has been dragged out, dusted down and brought up to date. Those who remember the Twentieth Century Fox film of the same name will know that Nosferatu was the only Vampyre to have his deadly fangs firmly in the front of his mouth, and not at the side like the Bela Lugosis and Peter Cushings that were to follow.

Nosferatu is divided into three sections, and predictably enough one section has to be completed before the player can progress to the next. The first part of the game takes place in Dracula's castle. Jonathan Harker is an estate agent's minion. The Count wishes to move from his draughty house on the hill. When Jonathan gets to the castle, his worst fears are realised. Being a smart man, he realises that if Nosferatu moves into the peaceful town of Wismar, the inhabitants of this sleepy village could soon become his unwitting victims and turn into Vampyres themselves, Eeek!

Unfortunately, Jonathan has made a slight faux-pas. He has left the deeds to the house on the dining table in the Count's castle, and when he returns they are gone. Mr. Harker must recover these deeds and escape from the Count's castle to complete section one of the game.

Apart from Nosferatu, there are other nasty things for the poor man to wrestle with. Vampyre bats, sewer rats and large rabid wolves are all a potential threat as they guard the castle while the Count takes his beauty sleep. These creatures will sap away Jonathan's life energy if they make contact with him. This life force is represented by an ever-growing coffin at the bottom of the screen, when the coffin is completed he dies. Apart from these creatures, the Count has also conjured up hallucinations which haunt and trick Jonathan as he stumbles around the castle's rooms in search of the deeds.

Food can be picked up along the way to replenish his energy, and the crucifixes, swords and candles which can also be picked up all help to make his task a mite easier. The time of day or night is shown by a change in room colours and by a chart at the bottom of the screen. It is not essential for Jonathan to have the deeds before he leaves the castle, but if he does have them it will make his task a lot easier in the next section.

In level two the action takes place in the town of Wismar and the player controls three characters; Jonathan Harker again, his wife Lucy and a chap called van Helsing. Play can be switched between the three by using keys 1 through to 3.

Nosferatu has been lured to Wismar by Lucy's unique powers of attraction. While in the town he takes good advantage of the healthy population and begins to feed off them. However, unbeknown to Lucy's husband and van Helsing, she is the only one who can kill Nosferatu. This makes things tricky in the third section. The two men must make short work of the hundreds of sewer rats which swarm around, while at the same time fending off the inhabitants who have already been turned into Vampyres by the Count.

In section three the player controls just Lucy. The object of this level is to lure Nosferatu to Lucy's house for the Final Conflict. Jonathan and van Helsing are still unaware that Lucy alone can kill the Vampyre and are united in keeping her away from danger. The two men must be locked in the house while Nosferatu is lured to Lucy's bedroom where she must keep him with her until dawn. If you are successful, the game ends with Nosferatu's quick demise at the first rays of the sun!

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Keyboard play: somewhat sluggish
Use of colour: understandably limited
Graphics: detailed with good animation
Sound: tune which can be switched on or off during play
Skill levels: three
Screens: 113


'This really is a very good game. The graphics are very detailed and originally drawn. Things like the bats and other animals are extremely well animated - which makes Nosferatu a very pretty game to play - but there is much more than meets the eye, like trap doors and secret passages, which once found open the whole game up. The game is very easy to get into, although I felt the controls were a touch unresponsive, considering the bats move at such a fast pace. After a very hard session of playing I found it very hard to get anywhere near level two. The options are fairly vast, although the old game option proved pretty useless. This is an excellent variant on an old game.'

'Although bearing initial similarities to DESIGN DESIGN'S earlier release, Nexor, the gameplay goes much beyond the simple wander around and collect object idea. The plot is actually very involved and complex. What's more, it's a real toughie to play. The most notable occurrence of this is when the bats attack you - [they] really go for your neck, the little horrors! Despite not be able to get very far into the games I'm sure I'll play it again as there appears so much just waiting to be discovered. I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone.'

'To begin with it is very easy to dismiss Nosferatu as just another filmation game with hardly any content, but if you stick with it for a few goes I'm sure that it will absorb you as completely as it did me. Graphically this has to be one of the most detailed games that I have ever played, nothing has been left out. The characters move around in the usual excellent filmation fashion and use of colour is understandably limited. The sound is also very good with lots of effects and a lovely tune on the title screen. All in all I'm glad to see that PIRANHA can still produce excellent games.'

Use of Computer90%
Graphics93%
Playability92%
Getting Started87%
Addictive Qualities92%
Value for Money91%
Overall91%
Summary: General Rating: Love at first byte.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 13, January 1987   page(s) 83

I'm gonna stick my neck out right at the start. Nosferatu is one of those meaty games that you'll be dying to sink your teeth into as soon as it's loaded. For me, it was love at first bite. I was out for the Count!

You may have sussed by now that Nosferatu can also be found in the phone book under the alternative names of Vlad the Impaler or Count Dracula. (Phone after sunset or you'll just get his answering machine). Having exhausted the Transylvanian blood banks he's now on the prowl for new donors further afield. That's why Jonathan Harker, estate agent, has just flogged him a new des res with all mod cons in his home town. Only to discover too late that the new inhabitant won't be frequenting the local Berni. Not too keen on stakes is our Drac!

The game begins in Nosferatu's castle. Jonathan has to escape to warn the townspeople of their new neighbour before he can make suckers of them all. But how? Where? The castle's large and you must explore all the rooms picking up objects that'll help you reach the elusive exit. You've probably guessed by now that it's an idea to start mapping as you go, if you don't want to keep ending up in an oak-wood box.

Fairlights the game that sprang immediately to mind while I was playing this bit. It's not just the 3D graphics and the black-out as you move between screens (much quicker than in Fairlight though) but the gameplay too. It's not that hard to stay alive, though dodging the killer bats is a touch tricky, and there's a plethora of interconnecting rooms to explore. There are secret sections and a whole cellar to the castle which stays in total darkness until you discover a way of lighting the lamp. And as your energy depletes you must tuck into the food you find - though garlic bread's probably not on the menu. Oh, and one nice touch - drink a bottle of the local homebrew (Bull's Blood?) and then try walking in a straight line.

There's a whole game in this first section alone, but when you've made it out of the castle, you've still hardly started. Load in the next part and start exploring the town. Now though, you're no longer alone. You can toggle between two other characters, Jonathan's wife, Lucy and her brother-in-law, van Helsing, as well as plugging on with Jonathan. Once again, making a map is vital - and more difficult. The town is plagued with rats and most of the inhabitants you meet have already had a necking session with Nosferatu. You can keep them at bay with bunches of garlic but to get to the heart of their matter you'll need to find a way of making wooden stakes.

Your main task, though, is to keep Lucy safe. She's your only hope in the final confrontation with the vampire - only a woman pure of heart who is willing to stay with Drac till dawn can overcome his power. (We put T'zer forward for the job but unfortunately she declined - something about spending the whole day in the same room as the Ed being punishment enough!)

Fangs to the programmers, Design Design, the game's full of neat touches. The screens are packed with detail including, strangely enough, a rather large number of bathrooms in Drac's pad. And as night falls, the screens change colour and all is bathed in gloom.

If you were a fan of Fairlight and Movie, you're in for a blOOdy good time this Chrimble. If you've never seen either of them, try Nosferatu.


Graphics9/10
Playability9/10
Value For Money9/10
Addictiveness9/10
Overall9/10
Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 58, January 1987   page(s) 89

The latest Piranha offering is based on a film starring Klaus Kinski, making it the only piece of software ever to have been licenced from a European art movie.

I bet Piranha didn't have to pay much for the deal.

The film was called Nosferatu, as is the game. If that's unfamiliar perhaps you will recognise it by another name - Dracula. Head honcho in the vampire department.

The game's been created for Piranha by Design Design who have been popping up a lot recently - mainly for Piranha.

Objectively, it's a big game. Three sections loaded in a couple of blocks each a full game in itself. Although the three sections are integrated quite closely it isn't possible to move from section to section without completing at least some parts of the task in the previous section.

A Dracula game could have been done so many ways: a run around dodging things game or an adventure. Perhaps the least expected approach is that it should be turned into a Knight lore/Batmanish 3D edge-on-big-sprite-epic - but that's just what this is. In the three sections you control one or more characters including, gasp, Lucy (a woman) - each a fully animated figure who can walk around, go down stairs and, well, actually that's about it really. Other activities like getting objects and using the occasional sword seem to happen invisibly. There isn't even a 'jump' option - there are places where you have to climb (notably some ladders in the library) and where you have to descend (various staircases) but it just happens automatically.

It struck me part way through the game that there was almost no reaction element to it at all - it's an arcade adventure where solving the puzzles dominates the play. True, you get attacked by bats on a regular basis but there isn't a lot you can do about it in terms of joystick technique, no matter how you waggle the stick you won't avoid 'em. (This is not to say there is nothing you can do, there definitely is, but it doesn't require hot reactions). There are a couple of areas where you have to time your way past a couple of roving wolves (although actually they look like the pet pooch) but it really isn't very difficult. I'm not sure whether this is a criticism exactly but certainly it's important to realise it is a game of puzzles.

The puzzles take various forms. Eating food you might find is wise and obvious. Finding boots to stomp on the spiders seems less so. Sometimes there are objects in cupboards and consequently whenever you find such a container it's worth walking up to it and pressing the 'pick up' key. Sometimes energy may be restored, sometimes you may find a gun, you may even find the deeds to the castle, and getting out with them is the point of Part 1 of the game.

There's quite a lot going on in Part 1 - a few secret rooms and secret passages (here's a clue - where would you expect to find the entrance to a secret passage?) and objects with mysterious uses.

The game looks superb, particularly the detailed backgrounds which are more than just good to look at - they are actually atmospheric. Check out the rats scurrying around the cellar, look out too for the furniture stacked up ominously.

In Part 2 - you play three characters and your task is more complex. The village outside the castle is being turned into vampireville as Dracula turns more and more people into mindless blood-sucking zombies (just like members of fundamentalist religions really). You have to kill them with a stake through the heart and use Lucy as bait to lure Dracula into her room where, maybe, he can be killed.

Although the town is just as beautifully realised at the castle (the rooms interiors in particular) the townspeople are all constructed from the same two sprites (because of memory limitations apparently), one male and one female. It looks fairly bizarre and means you only know which one is you by actually seeing which character moves under your control. Another strange touch is that the female character totally lacks legs and moves around as though being wheeled around on rollers (an old programmers trick to avoid having to animate legs).

Getting the stakes is neat. First you find an axe, then you look for any wood that might be lying around - like a chair for example.

In Part 3, more of an endgame really, you must, having lured Dracula to Lucy's room, keep him there. This involves some tricky action with stakes, garlic and the rest. If he doesn't manage to get away before dawn you've done it, because, as we all know, at dawn vampires dissolve into special effects unless safely tucked up in their graves.

My doubts stem from the fact that despite being so strong visually it lacks 'action'. There are no occasions really when your joystick will even get warm. These doubts make Nosferatu a few points less than a Classic.

Label: Piranha
Author: Design Design
Price: £9.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****


Overall5/5
Summary: Visually excellent. It's inventive and ambitious. Definitely designed for puzzlers rather than battlers though.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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