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Sabre Wulf (1984)      

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Details (Sinclair ZX Spectrum) Supported platforms Artwork and Media
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Other Files:
Ultimate Play the Game
Tim Stamper, Chris Stamper
1-2 (alternating)
Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Audio cassette
UK (£9.95)
Knight Lore
Sabre Wulf map, Official game poster
Re-released by Erbe Software in Spain
Click to choose platform:
Acorn BBC  NR
Amstrad CPC  NR
Commodore 64  9.7
Sinclair ZX Spectrum  NR

Same title from other publishers:
Commodore Amiga

VideosScreenshots (Sinclair ZX Spectrum)

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Added: 8 Mar 2011
This section would not be complete without mentioning the most successul Spectrum title of them all? Sabre Wulf is a maze game, but with some of the most beautifully colourful graphics you'll find on the Spectrum and enough clever features to make it stand above the crowd. The premise is similar to the likes of Atic Atac: find the four parts of an amulet and escape from the jungle. Snakes, scorpions and natives are just a few of the terrible beasties that pester Sabreman from start to finish, but fortunately he is armed with a trusty sword with which to see them off. It's enormous success just goes to show that although countless other games used similar ideas, Ultimate did it best.

Added: 27 Dec 2008
HAVING thrilled gamers with the dusty attics and caverns of Atic Atac, Ultimate has transported you to steaming jungles in its latest Arcade-Adventure, Sabre Wulf. The concept is similar to the earlier Atic Atac. You must seek four parts of a hidden amulet to escape from the jungle maze; on the way you must battle a dazzling variety of foes, some weak and others seemingly invincible. There are numerous treasures to inflate your score, some of which may prove of use in the game.

The game is played over an enormous maze of jungle paths and clearings. Of the monsters, against which your only weapon is a sabre, we particularly liked the hippos, which charge down the corridors and must usually be dodged rather than skewered.

A major feature of Sabre Wulf are the various coloured orchids which, when eaten, have strange temporary effects on your abilities.

The disorientation orchid, which reverses all joystick controls, is particularly infuriating.

While the graphics are not entirely flicker-free, with the usual problems when figures pass over each other, they are up to the high Ultimate standards and the action is fast.

The main criticism of the game is price. Ultimate claims that is because of an increase in development time but the price still seems high. If the game is anything like as successful as previous releases, and it should be, we fail to see how Ultimate could avoid making a big profit even at the old figure of £5.50.

SABRE WULF Memory: 48K Price: £9.95 Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Sinclair Gilbert Factor: 8

Added: 24 Jun 2012
In Viva Pinata on the Xbox 360 the Mallowolf fires Sabre Wulf amulets as its attack.

Added: 14 Dec 2008
Producer: Ultimate
Memory required: 48K
Retail price: £9.95
Language: machine code

In most respects this is probably the most redundant review in this issue! By the time you read it, it would be surprising if you aren’t already an expert at playing Sabre Wulf, the latest game from Ultimate. Due to the inevitability of the natural law which states: Ultimate will always release a new game at the last possible moment before CRASH goes to press — we have had to do this one backwards in order to get any colour pictures fitted in! So below you will find the criticisms, and on the opposite page the general bits and pieces with the pictures.

‘After waiting a week in a state of extreme anxiety for the phone call to say, "IT’S HERE!" I almost fainted when it came. Then came the blow. They told me I only had two hours to get it reviewed! But it takes almost that long to load! In two hours, all you can do is run around like mad, try and stay alive and explore the countryside. Or rather the jungleside. I did get to see natives, spiders, scorpions, lively and sleepy hippos, dancing flames and I picked up all sorts of things. I also saw lakes and mountains and got chased by the Wulf or a wulf anyway. As to how the game plays, it is going to take longer, but the graphics are fabulous — detailed, colourful, varied, extremely well animated and very fast. The sound is great too. After a short time I am convinced it’s better than Atic Atac. Time will tell. Pity about the steep price increase, but I think the game is worth the money.’

‘In my opinion this is "state of the art" Spectrum software. It’s basically a jungle version of Atic Atac but much more involved (and better too). The graphics are superb and extremely colourful. Many animals are to be found and there are lots of game features. I felt that I had travelled for miles yet only attained 25% — Indiana Jones eat your heart out! On the subject of aims Ultimate have included an inscription or warning. After some thought I took it to mean: get the four parts of the amulet and escape through the cave (without the amulet you cannot leave). I have two main criticisms, neither of them very serious. (1) Occasionally on two-player games with a Kempston, I was unable to move upwards until several lives had been lost. (2) The price of £9.95 is a steep increase from £5.50. Even so, I would still recommend it to anyone. It’s worth almost any two £5.50 games on the market. But I wonder whether this increase will mean an increase in its piracy. (In a plea to pirates I would like to say that their actions could mean that high-quality software such as this may tend to decrease!) As a final opinion all I am going to say is that this is a Software Masterpiece (anything less would be a gross understatement). Thanks, Ultimate.’

‘Sabre Wulf takes Atic Atac further. There is the search, the far from friendly creatures, the central mystery of what does what — but there is just a lot more of it. I managed in the short time allowed to get down to the bottom where you can see the mountains, passed the Wulf (who is much faster than you, don’t try to outrun him) and to the side mountains where I found I could leave the jungle and run along the mountain tops. Much further, though, is going to need more time! Fab graphics and sound, brill colours -words fail. It’s the game that counts — play the game.’

Control keys: Ultimate’s famous QWERT combination
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair 2, Protek, AGF
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: excellent
Graphics: excellent
Sound: excellent
Features: one or two-player games
Originality: top marks
General rating: despite a price increase, still good value. Probably Ultimate’s best game to date.

Ratings: At short notice it has been difficult to give an actual rating for Sabre Wulf that would make sense and it’s probably redundant anyway. Let’s just say ‘unrateable!’ and leave it to you to decide.


It is, perhaps, almost redundant making an Ultimate game a CRASH SMASH. From the moment the first ad for Sabre Wulf appeared, the question we have heard most is, ‘Is it out yet?’ Those rumours which suggested that Sabre Wulf would be like Atic Atac are, in many ways, correct. What we have here is another Ultimate mystery with a glossy, cryptic scenario, a long cast list of the horrors to be encountered, and very little else. As in Atic Atac, the player is expected to explore, discover and die endlessly until things begin to slot into place. Also as in Atic Atac, the game plays in a massive maze where at any moment you will be able to see a place you would like to reach and no obvious way of getting there.

Unlike Atic Atac there is no pickup/drop key, and consequently no info box to tell you what you are carrying or how strong you are. This deepens the mystery. How are you to know whether you are on the right track? (Forgive the maze-like pun.) The only starting point is the dire WARNING etched deep into lifeless stone and reprinted on the insert. Put together the four sundered pieces of what must be an ACG Amulet so you can pass the keeper wrought with hate and gain an entrance to the gate.

Any review of Sabre Wulf at this point could only scratch the surface of the game’s complexity. But it’s safe to say that, like Atic Atac, it will endure.

What we do have immediately is a glowing screen full of colour, intricately drawn graphics, constant animation and action and a desperate desire to get on with it and find out what’s going on in this tangled jungle world. Ultimate are very good at designing games without explanation or hint, but at providing enough clues in the action itself for you to try out things. In this sense both Atic Atac and Sabre Wulf are really like graphic adventures. It is up to you, the player, to find solutions to the problems. The very fact that the problems exist is a guarantee that there will be a solution — if only you can discover the right combination of events.

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Ultimate hired outside developers to make Sabre Wulf ports for the BBC Micro, Commodore 64, and Amstrad CPC platforms, and the game was subsequently included in multiple compilation releases.
It won "Best Maze Game" in the 1984 Crash Reader Awards.
The game begins with an electronic rendition of classical music composed by Bach. The Spectrum and Commodore 64 versions have an optional two-player mode in which players take turns controlling Sabreman.
Sabre Wulf was Ultimate's first game to use what would become the company's standard price and mysterious, unadorned packaging. Ultimate nearly doubled its usual retail price in what they saw as a "bold step" to combat piracy. They expected legal owners to be more protective over letting friends copy their more expensive copies. Ultimate had seen competitor prices slowly increasing and felt that their full price was fair for their time invested.
Sabre Wulf later appeared in the 1985 compilation They Sold a Million, a collection of Spectrum games that had together sold a million units.


Sabre WulfWindows
Sabre WulfWindows


This title was first added on 7th November 2007
This title was most recently updated on 24th June 2012

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