|Developer(s)||Silicon Beach Software|
|Release date(s)|| 1986 (Mac)|
1987 (Commodore 64)
1987 (Commodore Amiga)
1987 (Atari ST)
1989 (Apple IIGS)
1991 (Mega Drive/Genesis)
1996 (Color Mac Version)
|Platform(s)||Commodore Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, Apple Macintosh, MS-DOS, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Commodore 64, CD-i|
Dark Castle is a platform game where a young hero named Prince Duncan tries to make his way to the evil Black Knight, dodging objects as well as solving occasional puzzles. The game was praised for its use of sampled sounds to great effect, gameplay, and high res graphics. A sequel titled Beyond Dark Castle was released in 1987. In 1994, a Color remake, titled Color Dark Castle was released. A second sequel, Return To Dark Castle, was announced in 2000, and, as of 2008, has been released by Z Sculpt Entertainment, and SuperHappyFunFun.
Movement within Dark Castle differs from most platformers of its time. The player can aim and throw rocks, there is no health system, and the game contains a boss fight that does not involve direct interaction with the boss.
Duncan can run, jump and duck, and can throw a limited supply of rocks at his enemies. More rocks can be found in little bags scattered throughout the levels, as can bottles of an elixir which provide a one-time antidote to bites from the numerous rats and bats found around the castle. If bitten without an elixir in his inventory, Duncan gets knocked out.
To defeat the Black Knight, Duncan needs a magic Shield and the power to hurl Fireballs, both of which can be found within the Dark Castle. The game begins in the Great Hall, where the player can choose one of four doors. The large center door leads to the Black Knight. The right door is marked with the shield and the remaining two mysteriously alternate between the fireball course and a more troubling path into the castle's dungeons. These two doors are assigned at the beginning of the game, but always lead to the same place until a new game is started.
The game can be played at three different skill levels, the hardest Advanced level containing more enemies and a few extra surprises.
The controls in this game are as follows:
- W - Up (Climb ladder/Stairs/Rope upwards)
- S - Down (Climb Ladder/Stairs/Rope downwards. Hold with Space for Low Jump)
- A - Left (Walk left, Up/Down Stairs with W/S keys. On hanging rope, turn/dismount to left. Hold with Space for Long Jump)
- D - Right (Walk right, Up/Down Stairs with W/S keys. On hanging rope, turn/dismount to right. Hold with Space for Long Jump)
- Q - Action (Use switch/Pick up item/Hold for Shield, once it is found)
- E - Duck (Duck)
- Spacebar - Jump (When used with A/D keys, Long Jump. When used with S key, Low Jump. When swinging on rope, let go.)
- Mouse - Aim (Aim arm for rocks)
- Mouse Click - Throw rock (in direction of aiming)
- Tab - Pause (press any button other than Tab to resume action)
The story in Dark Castle is rather simple. The evil Black Knight terrorizes the townspeople, our hero Prince Duncan decides to topple his throne, but in order to do that, he must travel to the four sections of the castle: Fireball, Shield, Trouble, and Black Knight.
After collecting the Fireball from Merlin, and Shield from the top of a tower, Duncan makes his way to The Black Knight's Throne room, where he topples the Black Knight's Throne, as a gargoyle takes Duncan to Trouble 3.
Main article: List of Levels in Dark Castle
This game had 15 levels, which came out of the 4 doors in the Great Hall, the first two doors are random.
Main article: Items
Main article: Enemies
Main article: Obstacles
Main Character's NameEdit
Main article: Prince Duncan
In the original Dark Castle the hero was given no name, and was just referred to as 'Hero.' This was changed however in it's sequel where his name was revealed as Prince Duncan.
In the color remake, Color Dark Castle, it was changed so that it said his name.
The Dark Castle Series had many gameplay elements that set it apart from other games in the market, some of which include:
- Duncan easily gets disoriented; when walking into a wall, tripping over a small ledge or falling a short distance without jumping he gets dizzy, leaving himself open to attacks. This made the environment more interactive then most games of the time, keeping the player's eyes on where he was going.
- Falling into holes in the floor does not cause death but instead leads to a dungeon Trouble 3 which can be escaped with some effort. A very original feature, which has still not made it's way into mainstream games. One of the few games that a bottomless pitfall doesn't lead to death or health loss. However, some bottomless pits in Return to Dark Castle do cause death.
- Easter Egg: Playing Dark Castle (and its sequel) with the computer's clock at December 25, the Great Hall will have holiday decorations. A very early computer game easter egg. Most games didn't have easter eggs until the 1990s.
Main article: Difficulties
The Bonus ticker in the Great Hall becomes a single-digit number that indicates the difficulty. 0 for Beginner, 1 for Intermediate, 2 for Advanced, and 3 or 4 for the post-advanced modes (See Difficulties article).
Beyond Dark CastleEdit
Main article: Beyond Dark Castle
In 1987, the sequel Beyond Dark Castle was released, in which Duncan has to return and defeat the Black Knight who is still alive. To access the Black Knight's tower, the player must first gather five magic orbs which are placed in various hard to reach places. The orbs have to be returned to the Ante Chamber and placed on 5 pedestals for the gate to open so Duncan can face the Black Knight.
Beyond Dark Castle had an engine similar to Dark Castle but with improvements and additions, like a health bar, Bombs, and other items, also including some levels where the player could control a "personal helicopter" of sorts. These levels and maze levels were side-scrollers instead of being limited to a single screen. Games could also be saved in a "computer room" level. Unlike the original version of Dark Castle, if you beat the game on Advanced, it will give you a special ending.
There have been quite a few remakes of Dark Castle, from only a few years apart, to over ten years between remakes. Return To Dark Castle, isn't a remake, but a sequel, and is included here because it contains all the levels from Dark Castle, and Beyond Dark Castle.
Color Dark CastleEdit
Main article: Color Dark Castle
This version also added a save feature whereby the game could be saved in the Great Hall, though only one game could be saved.
Return To Dark CastleEdit
Main article: Return To Dark Castle
Also, it was stated that it would include a Level Editor, with the ability to create your own quests.
In March 2008, the game was released to the public, for $29.95.
Main article: Dark Castle PC
A DOS version of the original Dark Castle was also released, though close to the original game in terms of level design, and gameplay, it lacked the high res graphics and clear sounds of the mac version. To compensate for its loss, They added color to the game, at the time PCs had Colors, where macs did not, The game only was in 16 colors.
The general consensus, is that the game is highly inferior to the mac version, in graphics sound and gameplay.
Dark Castle Sega Genesis PortEdit
Main article: Dark Castle SEGA
A version for the Mega Drive/Genesis was released by Electronic Arts in 1991. This version of the game had highly changed art direction, with some level's backgrounds, and some of the levels seemed to take place in entirely different areas. The game also featured cut sounds, and sounds moved from one thing to another, such as the bat flying noise changed the the bat dying noise. The game also featured a confusing control scheme, making it impossible to duck after receiving the shield, among other hard to manage controls.
This game is considered to be the worst rendition of Dark Castle, and possibly one of the worst games ever made. Fans and critics alike hated the game..
Dark Castle MobileEdit
Main article: Dark Castle Mobile
In October 2003, the Company SuperHappyFunFun, which includes one of the two original developers, Mark Stephen Pierce, acquired the rights to the Dark Castle Series, so that they could create a Dark Castle game for Cell phones.
It is now out of print and impossible to buy anymore. It was sold through Verizon, and Sprint when it was still being sold.
Main article: Dark Castle Other
Versions for the Apple IIGS, Commodore 64 and Amiga were released in 1989 by Three Sixty. This port was programmed by Lane Roath, and was similar to the Macintosh version, with lower resolution, color graphics and some controls.
There was a version released for Atari ST.
There was a version released for CD-i.
- Beyond Dark Castle
- Color Dark Castle
- Return to Dark Castle
- Z Sculpt
- Delta Tao
- Silicon Beach Software
- List of Levels in Dark Castle
- Official Forum
- Dark Castle Blog
- Running Dark Castle on an emulator, plus advanced walkthrough
- Dark Castle for the Apple IIGS at the Apple IIGS Gaming Memory Fairway
- Dark Castle for cell phones at SuperHappyFunFun.com
- Dark Castle links
- Dark Castle Wikipedia entry
- Dark Castle Review
- Guide to Running Dark Castle on a PC with a an emulator.
- Dark Castle F.A.Q
- Dark Castle Fan Pages.