Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe for Intellivision Review!!!

“Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe” is a
homebrew game for the Intellivision released by Collectorvision in December, 2016. I had previously reviewed the “Sacred Tribe”
release for the Commodore 64, which may explain why some of this review might sound slightly
familiar. In “Sacred Tribe”, 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 graphics and sound on the Intellivision
are well done. This game expands upon and improves upon it’s
predecessor, “The Shrines of Peril”, in every way. When the cartridge is first powered we are
presented with a nice Exidy logo splash screen. Exidy was a successful video game manufacturer
back in the 70’s and 80’s. According to wikipedia, Exidy stands for “Excellence
in Dynamics”. The rights to the Exidy name and logo were
acquired by Collectorvision in 2015. We are then brought to the main title screen. The games title is proudly displayed with
one animated flaming torch skull and copyright 2016 Exidy. A nice tune plays in the background. When the game begins you find yourself in
a cavern. You’ll notice blue shaded graphics with five
skulls etched into the stone. Gameplay:
You start the game by 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 entryways requiring Gems to pass through. There are a few chests in the game which require
a key to open. 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 to escape. You have to be a careful explorer, try not
to miss any room that have Gems. You need all of them in order to bribe some
of the tribe members to pass further into the game. In addition to Gems you can collect Pineapples,
which will grant you a spare Sydney Hunter. Controls:
Using the controller disc, you can move Sydney Hunter in all four directions, although to
control him vertically you will have to be on a ladder. Pressing any side button will make him jump. When jumping, you’ll notice he always jumps
forward in the direction he’s pointing, rather than jumping straight up and down. Pressing “1” on the keypad will display the
games statistics, including the number of Gems & keys collected and lives remaining. Pressing the “5” key will skip past text screens. I noticed if you press “Enter”, “Clear”, or
“Zero” on the keypad, this will nudge Sydney Hunter left a little while pressing “4” or
“6” will nudge him to the right slightly. Scoring
There is no score in “Sydney Hunter and the Sacred tribe”. One way to keep score might be to simply record
how long it takes to complete the entire game in one sitting. The Gems are color coded each one awarding
you a different quantity of Gems. The blue one awards one Gem, the Red one is
worth five, the Gold or Yellow one is worth ten and finally the green is worth 30 Gems. There are Gems hidden in chests, which require
a key to open. 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. The key with the Intellivision version is
learning the distance you jump and the timing required in order to successfully make a jump
while avoiding obstacles. Learn where to find the pineapples which award
you a spare Sydney Hunter, and be careful to avoid the enemies when possible. For example, there are a few screens where
you do not have to risk jumping a Scorpion. You can simply climb down a ladder and wait
for it to pass. When attempting to jump the slug, since they
move so quickly, be sure to start your jump well in advance. On a few of the screens with the wasp, I’ve
learned you can exit and re-enter the screen quickly and then run right past them. It seems to work every time. It’s all about the timing. On the final boss screen, you can use that
same trick. Upon entering, If the fireballs are shooting
directly toward you on the bottom, exit the screen quickly and re-enter until the fireballs
are firing over head, then head straight to the finish line. Graphics
The graphics in “Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe”, which are credited to J-F Dupuis and
Keith Erickson are amazing. There are a lot of visual elements in the
game to take in, for example, the eerie windows, skulls etched into the concrete walls, fire,
and 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 colorful
clothing. You can even tell he is wearing blue shoes. There are random skeletons, spider webs, stone
columns, ladders and collapsing bridges. The imagery does evoke the feeling of being
deep within the Mayan caverns. Sound
I like the simple music in the game and appreciate how it changes as you progress. This helps keep it interesting. The various sound effects in the game include
a sound for moving Sydney Hunter, a separate sound for jumping, a sound for opening a chest,
picking up a pineapple, a sound for dying, sound for text being displayed in the game. The sacred soul which can shoot arrows at
you has a sound when you enter the screen and a separate sound for shooting the arrows. The snakes, wasps, bats, and rats each have
their own unique sounds. There is a different sound effect for each
color of Gem you collect. Even the fireballs which shoot up from below
have their own sound effect. When you lose a Sydney Hunter a tune is played. When your mission fails a different tune is
played and of course another tune plays when the game is completed. Notable differences between the Commodore
64 and Intellivision versions: I decided to do a quick comparison between
the Commodore 64 version and Intellivision since I own both and have recently posted
my review of the Commodore 64 version. On the Commodore 64, there’s enough horizontal
resolution to display a few of the games statistics, such as the number of remaining Sydney Hunters,
Gems and Keys. On the Intellivision in order to see this
information you have to press “1” on the keypad. On the Commodore 64, the background Windows
are Multi-colored and the game is more generous with the number of Pineapples spread throughout
the game. There is also one additional method of navigating
up and down through some of the screens, a green vine. I will say there is one graphical element
that actually looks better on the Intellivision version, in my opinion and that is the quick
sand. On The Commodore 64 version, you have the
option to display an interactive map which displays your progress through the game. This option is not present on the Intellivision
version. On the Commodore 64, version, there are many
screens with a nice graphical effect of a torch lighting up the room. This effect is absent here. On the Commodore 64 version, there is a temporary
invincibility mode which can be activated by grabbing the floating skull looking object. There is no such temporary invincibility power
up on the Intellivision version. On the Commodore 64 version, I counted eleven
baddies while on the Intellivision, I counted nine. Notably missing are the “Fast Spider” and
“Black Mamba” which was essentially a red snake that could be jumped. While on the subject of Baddies, on the Commodore
64 version there are often times more than one baddie on the same screen, or there will
be an enemy plus an additional obstacle to deal with. While on the Intellivision, I don’t recall
ever seeing more than one baddie or obstacle on the same screen. I contacted the games developer Oscar Toledo
G. regarding this. He offered a great explanation: “Sydney Hunter is composed by 6 Intellivision
sprites, the enemies are composed by 2 Intellivision sprites, 6 + 2=8 that is the maximum sprites
visible on screen. Of course more can be done using flickering.” Also on the C64 version there’s a rolling
skull screen, not present on the Intellivision version. And finally, on the Intellivision final boss
screen there is a vertically moving snake like skeleton shooting fireballs at you, after
which if you pass, the game immediately ends. On the Commodore 64 version there is a similar
boss screen, only it shoots rolling skulls at you and the game does not immediately end. Instead there are two more scenic screens
to navigate through with no obstacles before the end scenes. Packaging
There were two versions of this game released by Collectorvision for the Intellivision. The “Limited edition” version and the “Standard”
or “Game of the year” versions. There are a few differences between the two
versions in addition to separate box art images. The “Limited edition” features two overlays
as opposed to one. It includes a nice 8.5 x 11 bonus map which
was not included in the “Standard edition”. The “Limited edition” purchase also offered
a chance to win a free Colecovision multi-cart. The packaging for this game is fantastic. The box artwork was credited to Jeramie Griffor. In fact, along with “Game of the year”, it
was also voted best packaging of the year by the Atariage Intellivision community. The limited edition artwork looks like a scene
right out of the game where Sydney is swinging over lava while reaching out for a Gem with
a bat and tribesman in pursuit. The Mayan architecture is represented. The “Standard edition” artwork depicts a slightly
different scene with Sydney Hunter holding a torch in his left hand and a whip in his
right hand. He appears to be deep within a temple with
skulls etched in stone in the background. The word “Exidy” has also been injected into
the image. The “Limited edition” image is also used on
the games printed manual although it’s monochrome. I love that the games manual includes color
photos of the 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? I did find a typo in the manual on page three
where it says to make sure the “Super Mine-Field” cartridge is placed in slot, firmly engaged. Oops. Collectorvision also published Super Mine-Field
for the Intellivision, back in 2016. 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. However it includes all of the soundtracks
from the Intellivision version, borrowing artwork from the “Limited edition” and a gameplay
screenshot on the backside of the sleeve. Ports
Sydney Hunter has sort of become it’s own Mayan themed franchise. The “The Sacred Tribe” was ported 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 a disk and digital formats as well as a limited Cartridge release. In addition to the Commodore 64 the “Sacred
Tribe” was also ported to the following systems: The Intellivision saw two releases, Limited
and Game of the year editions. Colecovision and MSX systems and The Sega
Master System versions were also recently released. Bugs
Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe for the Intellivision is an extremely well polished
game. You can tell a lot of effort went into getting
it just right. I don’t think you can classify the following
as bugs, more just minor knit picks. On one of the screens where you retrieve the
key (11:50), Sydney’s sprite can temporarily be seen behind the window graphic in the background. Also there are few screens where (1:14) there
is a ladder in the middle of the quicksand, and it is sometimes difficult to jump from
the quicksand onto the platform to go up the ladder without jumping past it. Like I said, minor knit picks, overall, well
done. Suggestions for improvement
As with the Commodore 64 version, I believe this version could have benefited from changing
the color of the stone background images once and while, the further you progress into the
game. Although there are a lot of baddies, it always
could of used a few more. I would have liked to have seen some puzzle
elements thrown in. I would have liked the ability to toggle the
music on or off. Throwing in a game save feature or at least
checkpoints, also would have been welcomed. Easter Eggs
The one Easter egg I know about is just a “secret” room that leads you to a stash of
Gems. It’s pretty simple to find. I’ll give a hint, it can be found 6 levels
down from where you start. I have discovered two game cheats which are
not Easter eggs but I’ll cover them here. If you wish to figure them out yourself, skip
ahead 31 seconds into this video. The first cheat is enemy invincibility. You will no longer be killed by any of the
baddies but can still die from other ways, such as sinking in the quicksand or falling
into the flames for example. To activate this cheat, from the title screen,
on your keypad type in 1, 4, 7 and start the game. The border will rapidly flash twice. The second cheat will grant you 200 spare
Sydney Hunters. You can activate it from the title screen
by keying in 8, 5, 2 and start the game. The border will rapidly flash twice. Purchasing Information:
I picked up my boxed copy for $60 from Collectorvision way back in July, 2017. It is currently listed as sold out on their
website. The ROM is available to download from the
following link. All they ask is that if you do not previously
own the game, to make a small donation: Conclusion
Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe for the Intellivision significantly expands upon the
playing field over it’s predecessor, with over a hundred unique screens, nine unique
songs and at least nine different types of enemies. This expansion was a step in the right direction. Frankly I was amazed the Intellivision version
had just as many screens as the Commodore 64 port, the assumption being the Commodore
has newer, superior hardware. I think I assumed it would have a smaller
scope. The fact that’s it’s even close is quite impressive. Collectorvision has boldly brought this game
not only to the Intellivision, but to several other gaming systems, which is rare in the
retro gaming community. That was no easy task, which I commend them
for. The game is well polished, and more importantly,
fun to play. It leaves me yearning for more Sydney Hunter. This is my third delve into the Sydney Hunter
universe. I enjoyed playing the “Sacred Tribe”, I am
looking forward to playing more of these games. Highly Recommended.

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