|Developer(s)||Tim and Chris Stamper|
|Publisher(s)||Ultimate Play the Game|
|Release date(s)||ZX Spectrum
|Genre(s)||Arcade adventure; Maze|
Two player (Spectrum and Commodore 64 only)
Sabre Wulf is a ZX Spectrum video game developed and released by Ultimate Play The Game in 1984. The game is the first in the Sabreman series. It was written originally by Tim and Chris Stamper, and later ported to many other computer platforms. In 2004 a new Sabre Wulf game, with completely different gameplay, was released for the Game Boy Advance.
A traveller falls into a deep chasm and must battle the creatures that live within in order to make his escape.
Taking on the role of Sabreman, players must navigate an intensely colourful flip-screen jungle maze (256 screens) to recover four pieces of a lost amulet (which depicts the titular Wulf). Once all four have been collected and assembled, the Keeper guarding the maze exit can be safely passed. However, between the entrance and exit, Sabreman must fend off a constant army of tropical foes that emerge regularly from the undergrowth with his sabre. Some enemies such as scorpions, snakes and spiders are easily dispatched, but larger adversaries such as hippos, rhinos and natives can only be made to run away by fencing. Furthermore, if the player remains in one screen for too long, an invincible and lethal bushfire appears and moves around the screen, visiting all space the player can occupy, forcing the player to leave the screen. The appearance of the bushfire effectively prevents the player from camping, or placing Sabreman in a corner with the fire button depressed and amassing points from dispatching the constant stream of jungle creatures that appear. Along the way, the player also encounters the Wulf's territory at the bottom of the map. Unlike other guardians, the wulf is unaffected by Sabreman's sword and so must be avoided.
As well as searching for the amulet, players can collect treasure for bonus points and extra lives to prolong their jungle adventure. Also available are jungle orchids that periodically grow and flower in forest glades and just need to be run over. There are several varieties of these each in a different colour and with a different effect on the player. Some give immunity to the jungle beasts or increase movement speed, while others cause less helpful effects such as paralysis or disorientation (reversed controls). Used wisely, they can make progress through the jungle much easier.
The game was highly recommended by Sinclair Answers, while Crash described both the graphics and sound as excellent Micro Adventurer said that the game made the Spectrum feel like a new machine, while Sinclair Programs urged readers to "rush out and buy both games (Atic Atac) now". Your Sinclair said that the gamed posed quite a challenge. The game was a bestseller on the Spectrum at the time of release.
The game won the awards for best maze game and best advert of the year according to the readers of CRASH magazine. In the same issue there was even a short story that accompanied a map competition submission.
The ZX Spectrum version was voted number 67 in the Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time in 1993 and was voted the 11th best game of all time by the readers of Retro Gamer Magazine for an article that was scheduled to be in a special Your Sinclair tribute issue.
According to C+VG it did however not sell as well as prior Ultimate titles.
Appearances in other media
The tape loading sound can be heard at the start of "Carn Marth" by Aphex Twin.
Both Sabre Wulf and the Sabreman character have featured in several other RARE games since the original game as either cameo or main character:
- The Killer Instinct series features a werewolf character named Sabrewulf.
- The game's rom is hidden in the code for GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64, along with a ZX Spectrum emulator.
- Sabreman makes a cameo in the game Banjo-Tooie as a frozen explorer who must be revived and returned to his camp.
- In the Game Boy Advance version of Donkey Kong Country, Sabrewulf's head has been stuffed and is mounted in Cranky’s hut.
- A new Sabre Wulf game was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2004, featuring both Sabreman & the titular Wulf.
- The Xbox 360 game Viva Piñata, also developed by Rare, features a minor cameo by Sabre Wulf - the in-game creature known as Mallowolf launches broken Sabre Wulf amulets as its attack.
- Rare Replay, a compilation of thirty Rare games for Xbox One, includes Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde and Knight Lore.
- "Sabre Wulf - Review", C+VG (Future Publishing) (34), August 1984: 40
- "Underwurlde - Review", C+VG (Future Publishing) (52), February 1986: 24
- "Sabre Wulf - Review", CRASH (Newsfield Publications) (15), April 1985: 54
- "Jungle Attack", Sinclair User (EMAP) (29), August 1984: 39
- "Sabre Wulf - Review", Personal Computer Games (9), August 1984: 58
- "Sabre Wulf", CRASH (Newsfield Publications) (6), July 1984: 62–63
- "High Energy Orchids", Popular Computing Weekly (6), 21 June 1984: 56
- "Watch your step, it's a real jungle out there!", Big K (6), September 1984: 19
- "Sabre Wulf", Sinclair Answers (1), August 1984: 32
- "Ultimate orchids - beware", Micro Adventurer (10), August 1984: 24
- "Soft focus", Sinclair Programs (8), August 1984: 36
- "Cry Wulf", Your Sinclair (Future plc) (35), August 1984: 36–40
- "Software Top 30", C+VG (Future Publishing) (35), September 1984: 18
- "CRASH Readers' Awards 1984", CRASH (Newsfield Publications) (12), April 1985: 94–105
- "Sabreman in his first adventure jungle", CRASH (Newsfield Publications) (12), December 1984: 70–72
- "They Sold a Million". World of Spectrum.
- "Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time", Your Sinclair (Future plc) (93), September 1993: 11
- "The 50 Best Speccy Games Ever!". ysrnry.co.uk. November 2004.
- "Travels in the Underwurlde - Sabre Wulf", C+VG (Future Publishing) (38), December 1984: 24
- Sabre Wulf can be played for free in the browser at the Internet Archive
- Sabre Wulf at MobyGames
- Sabre Wulf at World of Spectrum