Dark Castle

Moby ID: 110
Macintosh Specs
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Description official descriptions

The Black Knight has brought misery to the land, and the end way to end this is to enter his haunted house to slay him. You are the brave adventurer taking on this quest through 14 increasingly-tough zones.

The bulk of the game is side-viewed, involving single screens to pass through, which incorporate ropes, cages and trapdoor. There are enemies walking, flying and hovering through this, and many of them respawn. Unusually your weapon to take them on (rocks) can be thrown through 360 degrees, which aims to make the gameplay more realistic and methodical. The screens were linked by hub screens, which the player passes through simply by clicking on a door.

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (Macintosh version)

5 People

Programming
Design
Graphics
Real Sound by
Voice Characterizations by
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 theme composed by (uncredited)

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 47% (based on 32 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.9 out of 5 (based on 47 ratings with 5 reviews)

A classic medieval 3rd person action game, equally addictive and as well as irritating

The Good
I do not recall when or where I played this game, but I do recall I have played the game and that I was still in elementary school when I did. Regardless, I do recall that this was probably one of the "real games" that later defined what PC games came to be...although it seems it was a port.

One distinctive aspect about certain games in this era of gaming was that it was a combination or compilation if you will, of many action games packaged into one neat game. Unlike most platform games where basically most of the gameplay is practically similar from beginning to end, Black Castle introduced different types a little more different style of gameplay for each "level" or in this case "room", with different monsters, different puzzles, different action strategies. This "many action games into one" concept evolved into a similar game called Hillsfar.

The non-linear action game (during that time anyway) made the game quite addictive as you keep trying to find new ways "not to die" and the process of figuring out new areas and the process of interacting via trial and error (e.g. can I climb those ropes) certainly intrigues your curiosity to a certain extent.

The Bad
Although the game provided a major upgrade in gameplay as well as new features, the is not without many irritating features...repeat irritating.

Movement controls were upmost horrible. Walking, especially jumping and walking down the stairs require precise timing but the controls were kind of slow and grogy, often resulting in certain death.

Monsters keep regenerating endlessly, some bigger monsters only pass-out for a short period of time, in addition to your limited number of rocks you can throw makes it a little frustrating, not to mention trying to aim to the direction you want is worse than climbing and jumping combined sometimes.

I don't think I've actually passed any one room in the game, as it was very difficult to complete the level without being knocked by some flying bat or scurry rat. Regardless, it was fun for a while.

The Bottom Line
Nice ol' little classic...with a lot of great new features back then.

DOS · by Indra was here (20768) · 2004

Great innovative platformer

The Good
I worked at a software store when this game came out. Though we didn't carry it, several co-workers and I spent hours playing it and learning the precise controls to beat each level. We loved this game, right from the opening credits with the digitized sample of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor to the animation within the game and the humorous death sequences.

Through experimentation, we learned the precise positioning of Duncan's arm needed to defeat the bats in one level and the timing for the boulders in another. The developers used the high resolution Macintosh display to full effect for this game.

The Bad
The only drawback to this game was that--at the time--it wasn't available for any other platform but Macintosh. It also lacked a save game feature, but so did most other video games of the era.

The Bottom Line
Great platformer with innovative graphics and sound for the nearly game-less 80s-era Macintosh.

Macintosh · by Frecklefoot (188) · 2009

Feeble attempt to recreate the original

The Good
I loved the Mac version of this game, so was excited to try it out when it came out for my platform of choice, the Amiga. While I was a little put-off by the cover art--it looked rushed and lacking--I was eager to give it a try.

The graphics, while in color--a feature the Mac lacked--were lower-resolution than the Mac version, but the developers used the Amiga's wide range of colors to minimize this shortcoming. The other artwork and digitized sound were carefully ported and--in some cases--completely remastered.

The Bad
The artwork and sound were about the only good things about this port of the game. The gameplay was uninspired and frustrating. My friends and I mastered the Mac version's controls and knew all the tricks needed to pass each level. This version seemed to completely ignore the Mac version's carefully tuned control system. Instead of being able to master Duncan's arm position for one level as on the Mac, the Amiga version's controls seemed random. The player couldn't be assured of a "hit" as he could on the Mac version: it was more or less up to chance. So passing a level relied on frustrating repetition instead of skill, which got old quickly.

I was so disappointed with this port that I quickly gave up on it, despite the $30 or $40 I shelled out for it. I was never able to finish the Mac version due to the lack of access to a Mac for extended periods of time. I was never able to finish this version because it was unbearable to play.

If you want to play the game, play the original Mac version in glorious monochrome graphics. This version has more eye candy, but is ultimately a frustrating experience.

The Bottom Line
A feeble attempt to re-create a classic, ground-breaking game on the Mac. It was clear the developers fell well short of the mark. Instead they created a game for the dustbin of history.

Amiga · by Frecklefoot (188) · 2009

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Trivia

Christmas

When the PC clock/calendar reads 25 Dec, a Christmas tree appears in the great hall of the castle.

Sound

The game featured digital sounds with the PC Speaker. However, the PC version sounded way inferior to the Mac version.

T-shirts

There was a Dark Castle and Beyond Dark Castle t-shirt and sweatshirt offer that came with the game.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #136 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list

Information also contributed by Chris Mikesell

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 110
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Olivier Masse.

Genesis added by Sciere. Macintosh added by Kabushi. Atari ST, Amiga, Commodore 64 added by Martin Smith. CD-i added by Timo W.. Apple IIgs added by Scaryfun.

Additional contributors: Martin Smith, Patrick Bregger.

Game added May 8, 1999. Last modified January 1, 2024.