Saturday, May 26, 2018


Looks like Ricky D. has a new bandana?

Switchblade was released in 1989 by Gremlin Graphics and programmed by Simon Phipps. Yes, he of Atari ST classic Rick Dangerous. Okay, we are Hiro, a dude in a bandana who must explore the UnderCity to locate sixteen broken fragments of the Fireblade to reap revenge on today's evil entity, Havoc. This beast has been on a savage rampage, after being dormant for 10,000 years, so it's time for us to save the day - once again!

Okay, I'm always worried when a big name makes something that is along similar lines. After all, this is another platformer so will we get another carbon copy of Rick Dangerous or will it be different. If it's different, will it suck or could it be something special? Hmm, I worry too much so check out a couple of screenshots...

Get ready for a great adventure

We begin on the surface before taking the leap (fall) into the orientally inspired UnderCity. This labyrinth is made up of lots of individual rooms and exploring each is brilliant but tread with caution because you never know what baddies might materialise from out of thin air. Your path through is "free-roaming" which I love.

Look out for dodgy blocks that might crack with a single kick: these can unveil health and weapon power-ups or may even lead you on into hidden rooms of goodies. Boss characters appear regularly, the first is easy to kill whereas later ones can be quite frustrating and beaten only with patience and lots of well-timed jumping. The negative is the immense size of the map which isn't visually diverse - so I often needed to backtrack after getting lost.

Controls are superb with all the usual movements like running, jumping and climbing ladders but there are also three kinds of attack. Tapping firing allows you to punch like a weak Arnold Schwarzenegger but you should also notice a white combat meter along the bottom right? This helps perform two kicks: holding the fire button for a mere second (so the meter isn't at full strength) will perform a high kick Jean Claude Van Damme would be proud of. Finally, holding it down indefinitely performs a powerful Chuck Norris sweeping kick. Superb!!

Wake up, there's something creeping up on you mister!

Tighten that bandana, Rambo. Now, go and kick his monster ass!


Visually, I doubt Hiro will blow your socks off but it's clean and well-designed with a great 8-bit style. Underneath its unassuming graphics is a rather cute design with great details and the characters you'll encounter are excellent with nice ideas. Also, the game self-maps in a similar fashion to Ranarama or even Rogue.

Switchblade has killer audio with brilliant chiptune bleeps from none other than Ben Daglish with the choice of sampled sound effects. I love both equally and couldn't decide which I preferred in the end!

Yes, there's a Ricky D. vibe plus a dollop of Saboteur and NES thrown in for good measure.
The level guardians are either daft or just plain awkward to hit - I wish they would keep still!!

The CryptO'pinion?

Switchblade is awesome. It's got a great adventure element that blends well with the action. Plus the lack of a linear structure is perfect for an explorer like me who is eager to see what's around the next corner. Thus it actually keeps you enthralled throughout. This is one of the few games I've completed and I will definitely come back to.

As with Rick Dangerous, this is most certainly one of the best platformers out for the Atari ST.

Fancy picking up the gauntlet to help Hiro find the scattered fragments?
It will involve deep exploration, fighting lots of silly monsters and several freaky boss dudes?

Grab the floppy or hard disk installable games right away and enjoy this incredible game.
Tip: you might find these maps useful to properly enjoy this beautiful platformer.


  1. Don't think I ever played this yet I played the sequel. Too bad in my opinion that the graphical style chosen doesn't fit the plot. Looks like a dwarf is going to save the world from evil. :)