Game Review: King Tut (Vic 20, Mastertronic)

Mastertronic - King Tut Vic 20
King Tut, Vic 20, Mastertronic - Number IV0075
  • 6/10
    Score - 6/10
6/10

Summary

While King Tut offers quite a short game experience, it gets challenging on later levels. However, it’s technically impressive and fun in short bursts but relies more on memory and quick reactions than skill.

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User Review
5.5/10 (1 vote)

Astonishingly, even though memory expansions were readily available for the Vic 20, only two Mastertronic titles required them. Commercially it made sense, allowing their games to be available to all Vic owners. What was even more impressive was what their programmers were able to squeeze out of the hardware, and games like Rockman were testament to that. And from the screenshots, John Ferrari was set to deliver the goods with King Tut as well…

In Search Of King Tut

As with most of the early Mastertronic games, you’re drawn in straight away by the stunning cover art. In this instance it sets the tone superbly and gives you a clear idea of what the game is about. You’re a treasure hunter, off in search underground (presumably in a pyramid) in search of Tutankhamun’s mask. Equipped with nothing but your trusty torch, you’ve got to find the mask and get back out in one piece.

It’s a simple maze game but you’re not alone down there. Mummies, scorpions, and cobras lurk around every corner. And while they don’t move, collision with any will cause instant death and it’s game over. Spiders are also roaming the tomb blocking your path so you’ve got to keep your distance. As well as the mask, there’s gold you can collect along the way to give you a score boost.

Mastertronic King Tut Vic 20
Mastertronic King Tut Vic 20

A Test Of Memory

King Tut relies on two things to play the game successfully. The main one is learning the map from your start point to the mask, and dexterity. Earlier levels are relatively easy to cope with, but as you progress the game gets faster and faster so it’s all about your reactions. Understandably the map doesn’t change so all you have to do is memorise the route to the mask and back to the start/exit position to complete each stage then do it all again.

While there’s no time limit, there is some pressure on you to move as quickly as you can. Your lamp only lasts for so long and then it will go out leaving you mostly in the dark. So then you’re left having to rely on your memory to find your way back safely.

Mastertronic King Tut Vic 20
Mastertronic King Tut Vic 20

A Visual Treat

Where King Tut really stands out from the crowd are its visuals. While it’s a technically a single load game for the unexpanded Vic 20, John Ferrari has created the game to push the Vic to its limits using a few creative tricks. The first load covers the instructions, and the graphics redefining most of character graphics. Then the next segment loads in the game code, followed by a third and final load for the game map itself. There’s no more loading after this but it results in some stunning visuals.

Because the game and map can be effectively loaded into a “blank” Vic 20, more can be dedicated to the game code allowing for extra hardware tricks. As well as the well defined graphics, especially your main character and the mask, there’s a superb lighting effect from your lamp. Most of the maze is dark blue, but the immediate area around you is in full colour, changing as you get close to it. It’s probably one of the earliest examples of dynamic lighting I’ve seen and certainly for an 8-bit title.

Mastertronic King Tut Vic 20
Mastertronic King Tut Vic 20

Gameplay

What lets King Tut down sadly is the gameplay. Reaching the mask is a fairly quick task and after a couple of plays you’ll have the route memorised. The map wraps around making it quite easy to get to and from the start/finish point as well so the only challenge is getting as much treasure as you can and coping with the increased speed on later levels. It soon becomes a score challenge than anything else, although you are presented with a choice of taking longer to hunt more treasure and relying on memory to find your way around once it’s lights out.

Overall

I will be honest and say that even though King Tut is a fun game, it soon gets repetitive. There’s definitely a challenge there, especially on the higher levels, but I don’t know how much it will keep you engaged beyond being a high score test when you’re running around the same maze over and over again.

Mastertronic - King Tut - Vic 20

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Vic 20 Mastertronic Checklist - Mastertronic Collectors Archive
  2. Mastertronic Collectors Archive Weekly Digest - 17th September 2023 - Mastertronic Collectors Archive
  3. Game Review: Neutron Zapper (Vic 20, Mastertronic) - Mastertronic Collectors Archive

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