Saturday, April 28, 2018


Let's get medieval

Okay, I think it's time we posted more pixel art and today, we have Ubi Soft's Sir Fred (aka Fred) which is a scrolling platformer with beautiful visuals by Jean-Marc Torroella and Jerome Guerry. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that this contains some of the most unique styles with stunning attention to detail using a colourful, yet eerie, palette. The sprites are wonderful and nicely animated - even those rude ones who stick out their tongues!!

The intro is fantastic - our fearless knight is tragically zapped into a midget by an angry dwarf. Shocked by this, he shakes his fists at his foe but, they cannot help themselves and burst out laughing. Then, and adding salt into Fred's wounds, is a little gnome who completes Fred's ridicule. This is what I call a brilliant opening intro.

Why can't all games get this much love and respect? Kudos to Jean and Jerome!

Now come on, who would have ever expected rude gnomes to be our enemy?

Hang on, these are armed. They might be little but they're evil little b4s@£@s!

A garden centre platformer?

We begin life as a miniature warrior in a spooky forest who battles cute garden gnomes. There are other beasts lurking in the woods and castle grounds like skeletons, snakes, headless axemen and ghosts. Everything wants you dead, so kill them with your arrows - these will even reach the baddies off-screen which is kinda cool.

Fred is a nimble chap with the ability to walk, leap and roll his way through his quest but the controls often got me into trouble. Turning around reminded me of Black Lamp feeling quite restrictive and lethargic. This cumbersome method of turning around spoils the gameplay somewhat because our ability to react is hampered by its speed.

What is it with developers back in the day, didn't they play their own games? Or is it just me being grumpy?

I absolutely love the details and the murky palette which is perfect for the creepy scenario.

Check out that headless axeman and the gnome's facial details are truly astounding.

Perspective platforming

Interestingly, we have multiple platform layers used to climb steps or bypass obstacles like rocks or trees. This is used to present a more 3D or realistic feel to our ability to travel. Sadly, it feels weird at first when you happen to be higher/lower or behind an object. It's a 3D effect that isn't really needed and only complicates exploration.

Battling the foe requires that both parties are on this same level. That's quite fiddly and didn't work well when being attacked from all sides. Energy levels are indicated by three apples and, once they're gone, you're dead as a dodo. These don't last long but, your death produces a hilarious effect as our hero drops his sword in agony!

I honestly don't think there's a more humorously graphically unique and fascinating game.

Those darn gnomes are a pest even the rude ones lol

Oh no, is that a skeleton or a zombie? Whatever it is, I should run away!

The CryptO'pinion?

Fred is a good game but it's simply far too difficult thanks to the fudgy controls and having to fiddle the vertical perspective of your character. That ultimately spoils what might have been a cracking platformer. Also, more checkpoints are needed to prevent you from restarting from the beginning - extremely annoying.

Overall, I felt Fred had huge potential but somehow fell short of the mark, which is ironic, uh? It's good, but it looks a lot better than it plays but I'm proud to feature it in our Pixel Art section. If you fancy helping out Fred in this beautiful 16-bit adventure then pick up a sword and boot up this floppy disk or run this hard disk program.

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