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Video Game / Sabre Wulf

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Sabre Wulf is the first game in the Sabre Man series (followed by Underwurlde, Knight Lore and Pentagram), and the game which introduced Rare Ltd's long-running Sabreman character (who's since appeared in many other Rare games). The game was published in 1984 by "Ultimate Play The Game" a.k.a. "Ashby Computers and Graphics", both of which ultimately proved to be trading styles of Rare. If the title character sounds familiar, you might have played another Rare-created series that featured a similar creature.

There exists two different games carrying the same name: the 1984 original, a ZX Spectrum Action-Adventure starring Sabreman, a British explorer who finds himself trapped in a deep labyrinth-esque jungle chasm and now must find his way out of it by finding 4 pieces of an amulet. However, on his path he'll have to fence against jungle creeps of various sizes, natives and the titular Sabre Wulf, an implacable wolf who appears at times and is better dealt with by running away. Besides the amulet pieces, Sabreman can also collect different treasures for points and colored flowers that grant him temporary special abilities (increased speed, invincibility) or disadvantages (inverted controls). The game got ported to a few other computers of the time, like the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC. This game, along with two of its sequels, was rereleased in 2015 on Rare Replay

The second game was released in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance, and works as a sequel to the first: Sabreman ended up banishing the evil Wulf as he was ravaging a nearby town, using the magical amulet. The townspeople then erected a statue of the wolf, and used the amulet to seal him inside it. Things went smoothly for a while, until Mad Scientist Dr. Dolittle-Goode came into the picture. Having tried to seize the land for years, he finds out about the Wulf and releases him, breaking the amulet into eight parts. Now both join forces to terrorize, conquer the lands and steal anything they want from various bystanders. Desperate, the Mayor of Blackwyche Village seeks out Sabreman to deal with the evil duo.

This Sabre Wulf is a more straightforward Puzzle Platformer, as Sabreman now has a host of small Monster Allies which assists him with their different abilities (jump higher, create platforms, move obstacles, etc). Besides the amulet parts, Sabreman gets involved in several Fetch Quests trying to recover the objects (or people) Wulf has stolen. Once said article is found, the Wulf wakes up and the player must run away back to the entrance before the wolf can catch him.

The ZX Spectrum version (1984) provides examples of:

  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Only due to the system's limited colors, the wildlife (and tribesman) randomly come in colors like cyan, magenta, red, and yellow.
  • Angry, Angry Hippos: Hippos serve as one of the enemies, which charge across the screen when players cross in their paths.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Giant bats are one of the enemy types.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: A couple of enemies consist of large spiders and scorpions.
  • Blackground: The floor/background in the game is black, which gives the extra impression of going through a dark jungle.
  • Blade Spam: The attack button can be held down so that Sabreman is constantly swinging his sword the entire time.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each flower is colored differently depending on the powerup it grants; red is invulnerability, blue is speed up, etc.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Amulet is split into four pieces, and must be found and collected in four different areas within the map.
  • Elite Mook: The wolf can't be defeated, and one had better run away in the chance they cross paths.
  • Giant Mook: Rhinos and Hippopotamus are larger than the other game's mooks, which can't be defeated like any other enemy.
  • Giant Spider: One recurrent enemy is a large spider the size of Sabreman.
  • Hollywood Natives: There are wild tribesmen who serve as enemies, trying to attack Sabreman when they see him by chasing him with a spear.
  • Implacable Man: The Wulf is invulnerable to all attacks, so it's best to just run away.
  • Interface Screw: One of the flowers' effects reverses the controls temporarily.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The tribal villagers and hippo/rhino enemies can't be killed, but they can at least be stunned or reflected with the sword.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The red flower grants invulnerability but gives slower speed. The blue and purple flowers also grants invulnerability, with the former also adding a speed boost and the later reversing the controls.
  • Jungle Japes: The whole game takes place in a dark jungle.
  • The Maze: The game's overworld is a large maze with the borders made out of the jungle's fauna. The exit is in the center, but can only be accessed by finding four pieces of the amulet.
  • Nitro Boost: The blue flower grants a temporary speed boost, as well as temporary invincibility.
  • Rhino Rampage: Rhinos can charge across the screen to harm Sabreman.
  • Savage Wolves: The titular wolf. It's very fast and one of the only enemies in the game that can not be killed.
  • Scary Scorpions: Scorpions in this game are enemies, and they're really big.
  • Smart Bomb: The yellow flower kills most weaker enemies on screen, but doesn't work on Elite Mooks and also disables movement for a few seconds.
  • To Be Continued: The end screen says that the next adventure of Sabre Man will continue in the Underwurlde.

The GBA version (2004) provides examples of:

  • Blob Monster: Sticky is a goo creature you can set to trap enemies who walk into it.
  • Collection Side Quest: A man in the starting town asks you to find multiple colored orchids for his girl, each obtained through their own questline.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Dolittle-Goode. He builds labs that you have to destroy to access new areas. He also freed Sabre Wulf, turning the Wulf into The Dragon.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the areas, Underwurlde Mines, is a reference to the second Sabre Man game Underwurlde, which also takes place underground.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: You never get a chance to fight Dr. Dolittle-Goode himself.
  • Recurring Boss: Exaggerated. You have to run away from the same boss at the end of every level.
  • Recycled Title: The title is recycled from the original ZX Spectrum game.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The multi-color orchid Side Quest is likely one to the flower powerups in the original, as those orchids came in a variety of colors as well.
    • One area is called Karnath Jungle; Karnath is a giant snake who serves as an obstacle in the original Battletoads game and a boss in the arcade game.
  • Trampoline Tummy: Blubba, the first creature you find, allows you to reach higher grounds by jumping on its big belly.
  • Time Skip: Not mentioned, but the game is set quite some years after the original. Sabreman is noticeably older, and even comments he's "getting too old for this."
  • Theme Naming: All game areas are named after old Ultimate Play The Game games (Blackwyche Village, Underwurle Mines, Mount Knightlore, ect.)
  • The Unfought: Dr. Dolittle-Goode is never confronted properly, and is anticlimactically (and literally) shot down in the game's ending.