Magic Knight is a computer game character created by freelance programmer David Jones in his 1985 game Finders Keepers for the Mastertronic budget label. Finders Keepers is a flip-screen platform game released on the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX and Commodore 64. The game spawned three more ambitious sequels (also starring Magic Knight) on the Mastertronic Added Dimension budget label: Spellbound (1985), Knight Tyme (1986) and Stormbringer (1987). The three sequels are far less action-orientated, being effectively graphic adventure games that use a basic menu system (dubbed "Windimation") to interact with characters and items instead of typed commands.
The King has ordered Magic Knight to go to Spriteland and bring back a fitting birthday present for the Princess. Magic Knight is transported to the castle in Spriteland and can either amass as much treasure as possible or find a suitable present and return to the King.
The wizard Gimbal has accidentally mixed up a spell and cast himself, Magic Knight and an array of other characters into an unknown castle. Magic Knight must find Gimbal and reverse the spell to return everyone home.
After freeing Gimbal, the spell to send Magic Knight home goes wrong and he awakes not in the Middle Ages, but on the USS Pisces in the 25th century. Magic Knight must find a way to reach the Tyme Guardians and return home.
On returning from the 25th Century, Magic Knight finds his local village terrorised by the "Off White Knight", who has taken residence in the castle. Further investigation shows the Off White Knight to be the evil side of Magic Knight himself, and the task is to join the two together again.
These descriptions are based on the ZX Spectrum versions of the games.
The game is basically a flip-screen platform game in the traditional sense, with a very small Magic Knight having to negotiate screens stocked with numerous monsters, which move in pre-defined paths. There are also two scrolling mazes that Magic Knight must traverse to enter new sections of the map. Spice is added to the gameplay by the addition of objects, which can be picked up and utilised, or traded with the Traders that are scattered at various points in the castle (and who coincidentally look exactly like Magic Knight). Certain objects, when carried at the same time, will react to create new objects. Magic Knight had 4 lives, each with an energy bar that would be depleted by collisions with monsters, or certain parts of floor.
This game showed a marked departure from Finders Keepers. Magic Knight increased in size and the monsters were disposed of. This game also introduced the Windimation system, whereby the player could interact with other objects and characters (pick up/drop/throw/command/cast magic) via a system of menus. Magic Knight (and indeed the other characters in the game) all had RPG-like stats instead of a simple energy bar.
This game operated in pretty much the same way as Spellbound. It introduced the "advert", which seemed to have no purpose but could actually be used as a handy step to high places. The first challenge is to get the crew of the USS Pisces to obey you and to repair the ship - once that is done you get the additional ability to travel to anywhere in the galaxy. Magic Knight can beam down to some of these planets and explore on arrival, although not all of them are friendly.
This game was released in 48k and 128k versions, with that latter having many more locations and in-game music.
More of the same from a control point of view, but with a larger and more varied map, harder puzzles and more characters. One of the first challenges in the game is to find out what job is going at the castle and then finding a disguise to get in. The game was again released in 48k and 128k versions, with the latter again having more locations and in-game music.
Magic Knight's gender
The in-game instructions for Finders Keepers, and the printed instructions for Knight Tyme and Stormbringer, refer to Magic Knight as 'he'. However, in a feature on the Magic Knight games in issue 27 of Retro Gamer magazine, David Jones stated that Magic Knight "was always female" and that if he had written another Magic Knight game, this would have been "the big reveal at the end".