The Dark Castle series was started in 1986 when Jonathan Gay, and Mark Stephen Pierce started work on what would become the original Dark Castle, it would grow to be extremely successful, warranting ports to many different systems, along with a full fledged sequel, Beyond Dark Castle. In 1994 Mac software company Delta Tao, snatched up the rights to Dark Castle, and released a colorized version of the game, Color Dark Castle. They had planned to colorize the sequel, but never got around to it. In 1996, work started on a third Dark Castle game, titled Return to Dark Castle, which was being developed by the newly founded Mac software company, Z Sculpt, and was being produced be Delta Tao. 2003 rolls along, and Mark Stephen Pierce and his company, SuperHappyFunFun buy the rights of Dark Castle back from Delta Tao with a contract saying that Delta Tao has the rights to continue to produce it for a unspecified amount of time. In early 2006 SuperHappyFunFun releases Dark Castle Mobile, a cell phone game of Dark Castle. Sometime around 2006, Delta Tao's contract time ran out, and SuperHappyFunFun takes over producing Return to Dark Castle. In late 2006, Z Sculpt finishes development, and goes into bug testing. Early 2008, game is finished and soon ready to be released.
There are many reasons that the Dark Castle series has become so beloved, be it the game's humorous sounds, or tight controls, this series has stood the test of time.
- The Dark Castle series had very high resolution graphics for its time, still managing to hold its own against 2D games of today,
- The Dark Castle series is known for its clear audio and voice overs. At the time, few games had sound anywhere near this good.
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 or falling a short distance without jumping he walks around in circles for a moment mumbling incoherently. 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 an escapable dungeon ("Trouble 3"). Dark Castle was one of only a few games in which a bottomless pitfall does not lead to death or health loss. This was a very original feature which has still not made its way into mainstream games.
- Easter Egg: Playing Dark Castle (and its sequel) with the computer's clock at December 25 decks the Great Hall with a Christmas tree. This was a very early computer game easter egg; most games didn't have easter eggs until the 1990s.
One aspect of the Dark Castle series that helped set it aside from games such as Prince of Persia was the humor, with lightbulbs and computers in a medieval setting, and a 16-ton weight a la Monty Python in the Dungeon. Most of the sounds in this game work well for what they are, but are also very silly, such as Prince Duncan's Wile E. Coyote-esque downward glance in the realization that he is falling off a cliff, followed by a surprised "Woah!" as he actually falls.
Major People Involved with the Dark Castle seriesEdit
Many people have been involved with the Dark Castle series over the years, here are some of the main ones by company.
- Mark Stephen Pierce - Graphical designer of the original Dark Castle.
- Erik Zocher - Sound designer for the original Dark Castle.
- Dick Noel - The person who did all the sound effects for the game.
- Tim Cotter - Port designer.
- Howard Vivies - Port graphics.
- Zack Morris - Engine programmer for Return to Dark Castle
Games in the seriesEdit
The Dark Castle series has spawned three main games, and 2 spin offs, over 22 years.
Main Article: Dark Castle
After being released in 1986, this game was subject to critical acclaim, topping the sales charts for over 35 months, with it's amazing graphics, sounds and smooth gameplay.
Beyond Dark CastleEdit
Main Article: Beyond Dark Castle
A year after the first game was released, it's sequel, Beyond Dark Castle was released, which included less arcadey style gameplay, and more adventure game themed levels. With new enemies, items, and gameplay elements, this game also topped the sales charts.
Return to Dark CastleEdit
Main Article Return to Dark Castle
A game with legendary development time, of which a lot of people seemed to give up on. It started development in 1996, and is now ready to be released in 2008. It features color graphics, new gameplay elements, a new save system, and all the levels from the original two games, plus 50+ more.
Color Dark CastleEdit
Main Article Color Dark Castle
After computers started to go color, and resolutions started to go up, Dark Castle, and Beyond Dark Castle stopped working. Delta Tao decided to fix this, and released a colored version of the game, including some changes, which were controversial among fans.
Dark Castle MobileEdit
Main Article Dark Castle Mobile
After re-obtaining the rights to the Dark Castle series, Mark Stephen Pierce made a port of Dark Castle, to cell phones. It was not a straight port though, and included changed level design and auto aim for rocks.
After the release of Return to Dark Castle, what does the future hold for the Dark Castle series? Zack Black and Zack Morris plan on doing level expansions to Return to Dark Castle with the Level Editor, and fans are sure to be creating levels for it for years to come. As for official developments, Zack Morris explained interest in seeing where the series goes on from here, though expressed he and Zack Black would like to take a break from the Dark Castle series. Prince of Persia, a game that is very similar to the Dark Castle series, was snatched up by Ubi-Soft, and they made a fully 3D new series based off of it, there's always a possibility that this may follow suit.