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Written by  :  Andrew Fisher (685)
Written on  :  Aug 24, 2019
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars

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How Clive might have made Saboteur in '85 or '86 had he been able to

The Good

I wanted to complete the game on the hardest difficulty before writing this review. So this is an extended version of the original '85 or '86 game for Spectrum, Commodore and Amstrad, one of the many British-made, home computer games I played in the '80s. So the original game consisted of one mission/setting and can be completed quite quickly though it's replayable because of its many difficulty setting and the location of the bomb varies across the settings, also there are more locked doors needed to be opened by finding the correct computer terminal as the game get's harder. Though you can switch between graphic modes to present the game as it looked on Commodore, Spectrum and Amstrad, much of the game conforms to the Spectrum and Amstrad versions, but the status box has been updated slightly. The game has been extended so that you uncover an extension to the warehouse/underground computer laboratory of the original game and there is a bit of story told via long distance communication between the ninja/saboteur and his sister Nina(Saboteur II), back at home base.

I felt that the game was quite exciting as a kid and I still feel the same now when performing the original task of stealing the valuable disk, planting the bomb and then getting to the roof to escape by 'copter before the bomb explodes. Of course you play a ninja and use stealth to dodge or defeat guards. You could say the controls are awkward, especially by today's standards, but I think there's some fun in mastering them and learning how to dodge the guard dogs and armed security cameras and how to sneak up or rather hop up behind guards. You're awarded $pay(in place of points) for killing guards, but the time limit gives some incentive to avoid rather than kill guards. Completing the original mission in 'Extremely Hard' mode requires you to be a "true ninja" i.e it needs your full concentration and there's almost no room for error, the time limits are a lot stricter.

As for the new extensions, well firstly there's a bit of a story, which mainly starts when you complete the original mission and begin radio communication with Nina (maybe it's meant to resemble Metal Gear, the first game released just after Saboteur). You discover a new underground enemy laboratory and gradually uncover their plans, your discoveries being told through conversation with Nina(printed on screen, not voice acted). The extended part is actually quite a bit easier than the original, even on 'Extremely Hard', you often get a break from time limits and have many rest opportunities to fully recover health. There's various puzzle solving sections and it tended to remind me of Flashback(first released about 1993). Certainly the new part is fun and exciting. And the graphics are still in the style of the original, which I like. There's still a certain charm to those very crude graphics. The added story is interesting, there's a bit of humor and references to the '80s and I suppose your ninja character is revealed to have a bit of human side, appearing a bit mercenary at first, collecting pay for killing people. There's some decent background music(one theme for the whole game) and sound effects added as well and I think they do add to the game.

I mean, the average gamer might laugh at it of course and not want to bother with it, but I'm glad Clive Townsend, the British creator of the original game, decided to re-release the game like this. I've enjoyed other re-released games where stuff has been added in such a way that you can feel like this is how the creators might have made the game back then if they'd been able to i.e more time, money, technology etc.

The Bad

Well I guess the game is far from perfect, especially today. I'm inclined to forgive a lot of the graphical, playability faults, but particularly frustrating is when I try to climb a ladder and instead repeatedly do a jump kick or waste precious time doing a jump kick after reaching the top of a ladder.

The Bottom Line

An exciting game, despite its age and flaws, involving ninja stealth.