Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe for C64 Review

Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe for C64 Review


“Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe” is a
homebrew game for the Commodore 64 released by Collectorvision, in early 2018. In it, you return as the famous explorer “Sydney
Hunter”. This time instead of making your way to the
temple, you are trapped within the temple and must find your way out. The back of the box explains: “You’re Sydney Hunter, a great adventurer. You’ve been travelling to South America seeking
for treasures. During one night you’ve been captured and
made a prisoner by a Sacred Tribe. Even if they don’t want to hurt you, they
won’t let you free either.” The Commodore 64 treatment of the graphics
and sound effects are quite impressive. This game expands upon and improves upon it’s
predecessor, “The Shrines of Peril”, in every way. When the cartridge is first powered on a fancy
splash screen is displayed. Next we see a nice closeup image of Sydney’s
Hat and a musical tune is played. Heading on into the Colectorvision title screen,
pressing the button brings us to the main scary title screen with the torch skulls adorning
both sides of the screen. When the game begins you will notice your
lives remaining on the bottom left, diamonds collected, bottom center, and the keys collected
on the bottom right hand portion of the screen. Gameplay:
You start the game speaking to one of the village elders who is asking you to please
help them find the way to the sacred doorway which leads to the ancient Mayan City. After accepting the challenge you will quickly
realize you are at the top of a maze and must travel down at least 9 levels to make your
way out. Doing so is not an easy task, being there
are many obstacles standing in your way, including; spiders, bats, wasps, scorpions, snakes, rats,
slugs, and entry ways requiring a key or diamonds to pass through. There are even a few screens with quicksand
lining the bottom of the screen. If you happen to fall in don’t worry you sink
very slowly and can jump out of it to escape. You have to be a careful explorer, try not
to miss any room that has diamonds. You need all of them in order to bribe some
of the Mayans to pass further into the game. In addition to diamonds you can collect Pineapples,
which will grant you a spare Sydney Hunter. Also sparsely spread throughout the game are
miniature white skeletons or Mayans, which grant you temporary invincibility. This power up, will turn your Sydney Hunter
character a solid shade of purple and lasts for only a few seconds. Controls:
Using a joystick you can control Sydney Hunter moving in all four directions. Pressing the button will make him jump. Even though the manual says to plug the joystick
into port 1, doing so will result in not being able to play the game. Use Joystick Port 2. The only issue I’ve ran into with the controls
in the game are moving up and down the ladders or vines. You have to be positioned just right or he
will not move. This can be frustrating. Pressing F1 on the keyboard will display the
interactive map. Pressing the Commodore button (bottom left)
on the keyboard will immediately end the game. Scoring
There is no score kept in Sydney Hunter and the Sacred tribe. This is one of those games like Atari Adventure
where once you complete the quest, that’s it, the game is over, no score. However if you had to figure a way to keep
score, I would say at the end of the game you could go by how many Sydney Hunters are
left over added to your gems collected. Or you could just measure how long it took
you to complete the quest. The diamonds are color coded each one awarding
you a different quantity of diamonds 1, 5, 10 or 20 diamonds. When you open a chest you are usually rewarded
with a nice amount of diamonds. Strategy
“Sydney Hunter and the Sacred tribe” is not that difficult a game, it’s more of a marathon
than a sprint. You have to have patience and try to learn
the games map. I found the most success once I started mapping
things with pencil and paper. Remember that you can press F1 to display
the interactive map which shows your progress. Learn how far you can jump. Learn where to find the pineapples which award
you spare man, and be careful to avoid the baddies. Graphics
The graphics in “Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe” are outstanding. There are a lot of visual elements in the
game to take in, for example, multi colored windows, skulls etched into the concrete walls,
torches lighting up various rooms, fire, even quick sand on some screens. There was a lot of detail and effort put into
getting it right. Sydney Hunter himself is a nice multi-colored
and animated sprite. You can tell he is wearing a hat and wearing
multi-colored clothing. You can even tell he is wearing blue shoes. The imagery does evoke the feeling of being
deep within the Mayan caverns. Sound
I like the simple music in the game and appreciate that it changes as you progress deeper into
the game. This helps keep it interesting. The various sound effects in the game include
a sound for moving Sydney Hunter, a separate sound for jumping. The flying hawk and bats each have their own
unique sounds. Music is constantly playing in the background
which does change as you progress further into the game. When your mission fails a different tune is
played. Packaging
The boxed copy limited cartridge edition of Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe is terrific. The artwork looks like a scene right out of
the game where Sydney is jumping over spikes while holding a diamond with a Bat and Snake
in pursuit. The Mayan architecture is represented along
with a spider web and Skull and bones. The same image is also used on the games printed
manual and 11×15 included poster. I love the fact that the games manual includes
color photos of the games development team, something you don’t see very often. An authentic looking 8.5 x 11 map of the Mayan
temple is also included. What clues can be gleaned from it? OSTs A gentleman on Atariage who goes by “Nyuundere”
was selling original sound track copies for Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe and Mecha
for the MSX systems. I picked up a copy and can tell you it is
good but quite short, only about 7 minutes long in total. Ports
Sydney Hunter has sort of become it’s own Mayan themed franchise. The “The Sacred Tribe” is the first port of
the game to the Commodore 64 and is the third game released in this product line, the first
being “Sydney Hunter and the Caverns of Death” and second, “Sydney Hunter and the Shrines
of Peril”. The Commodore 64 version of “Sacred Tribe”
was released in disk and digital formats as well as a limited Cartridge release. In addition to the Commodore 64 the “Sacred
Tribe” was also released on the following systems:
The Intellivision, two releases, Standard and Game of the year editions. Colecovision and MSX systems and the
The Sega Master System Bugs
Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe for the Commodore 64/128 is an extremely well polished
game. You can tell a lot of work went into getting
it working just right. To that point I only ran into a few situations
that I would classify as a temporary bugs. On the screen with quicksand under the collapsing
bridge, I once jumped up while underneath the bridge and when I went to the next screen,
Sydney Hunter, was hovering slightly above the floor. This hovering continued until I went through
the doorway and back. Not a huge deal. Every once in a while, the game would not
register a diamond capture, but also not a big deal. Suggestions for improvement
One thing I believe that could be improved on is the brick color, not that it’s bad,
but I would have like to have seen it change colors the further you progressed into the
game. Although there were at least 10 baddies, it
always could of used a few more. I would have like to have seen some puzzle
elements thrown in. As much as I like the sounds in the game,
sometimes they were damp’end by the background music. There should be a way to toggle the music
on or off. There probably should have been a sound effect
for capturing diamonds, pineapples or the invincibility cloak. Throwing in a game save feature or at least
checkpoints, also would have been welcomed. Easter Eggs
On the Commodore 64 version I am only aware of one “easter egg”. I have learned there is one Easter Egg which
will make you invincible and one that will grant you nine lives. The one I know about is just a secret room
that leads you to a treasure chest. It’s pretty simple to find. I’ll give a hint, it can be found 6 levels
down from where you start. The manual alludes to some easter eggs. “You will find the cartridge is full of special
features that make Sydney Hunter and The Sacred Tribe exciting every time you play”. Purchasing Information:
I picked up my boxed copy for $55 from Collectorvision back in January this year, 2018, and it included
the digital version. The boxed cartridge and floppy versions are
currently listed as out of stock but you can still pickup the digital version for $10. Conclusion
Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe for the Commodore 64 significantly expands the playing
field over it’s predecessor, with over 100 unique screens, an interactive map, and at
least 10 different types of enemies. This expansion was a step in the right direction. Collectorvision has boldly brought this game
not only to the Commodore 64, but to several other gaming systems, which is rare in the
retro gaming community. That was no easy task, which I commend them
for. But the bottom line question that needs to
be asked, is Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe a fun game to play? Is it worth the hassle of trying to figure
your way out of the more than 100 screens? To answer than, first I would say, yes this
is a fun game to play, however depending on your level of patience, the game can drag
on a bit at times, especially if you make it far into the game and lose your last Sydney
Hunter, requiring you to start ALL over from the beginning. This is my second delve into the Sydney Hunter
universe. I enjoyed playing the “Sacred Tribe”, I am
looking forward to playing more of these games. Recommended.

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