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Blackthorne

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Ronald Millar

GAME DEVELOPER:Blizzard Entertainment

GAME PUBLISHER:Interplay

Copyright 1994, Blizzard Entertainment

Blackthorne is an excellent action/adventure hybrid in the same vein as Delphine’s celebrated Out of This World. Probably the most underrated, overlooked game from Blizzard (made before the company became famous with WarCraft series), the game received little attention when it was released (perhaps due to the fanfare surrounding Warcraft 1, released around the same time). Which is a shame, because it is an excellent, addictive platformer that is arguably better than Flashback. The plot is mundane enough: you are the only hero who could stop evil Sarlac from conquering the kingdoms. Armed with a shotgun whose firepower can be increased, and a few bombs and guided missiles, you must break through the Orcish army and kill Sarlac inside his heavily fortified castle.

The game gets almost everything right. From the intro sequence, to the amazingly Duke nukemish main character, to the medieval/new age setting. With an excellent blend of nonstop action and adventure-game elements (e.g. you can shoot the chains to free prisoners), Blackthorne shines with originality, and is incredibly addictive.

For all its polish, there are some gripes I have with the game. First, the “hide in shadows” option isn’t very useful, since you can always “roll in” a scene, guns blazing, and take everybody down. The plot could also be better, and told via “cinematic sequences” a la Flashback to move the story along. Otherwise, the game is a classic in every respect, and a worthy (albeit unofficial) heir to Flashback. If you like action games, Blackthorne is simply a must-have. Two thumbs up, way up!

Note: In 1995, SEGA released a revamped version of the game for its 32X system (known as Mega Drive 32X in the US). This version has the same gameplay, but with many cutscenes and improved graphics. You can download it in the “Extras” box below – just unzip to C:BTHORNE32X and choose the SMD file from “Open ROM” menu. Thanks to Sakura for this rarity :)



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