This was another fine conversion from the 16bit Amiga to the the humble ZX Spectrum. A fun arcade adventure that’s very playable with great depth and a couple of great musical tracks by Ben Daglish. It was just a shame these games came along towards the end of the ZX Spectrum’s life.

The Game

On the cyber world of Thraxx, Havok has returned.

After 10.000 years of peace, the Fireblade, source of power for the ancient Bladeknights, has shattered. The night burned red, and the people of the Undercity fell beneath the onslaught of Havok’s nightmare creations. Helpness, the Bladeknights died alongside their people. Only one of their order survived.

You play Hiro, the last of the Bladeknights, a hi-tech warrior armed with steaith, cunning and a powerful reprogrammable cyber-arm. You must enter the Undercity and reassemble the sixteen fragments of the shattered Fireblade. Only then will you be able to take on Havok and average the death of your people.

Critical Reaction

A mixed bag here, the ZX Spectrum gaming press were fairly happy with the game while the Commodore C64 press didn’t like the game.

Crash – 81/100 (ZX Spectrum)

Graphically, Switchblade is very good: well defined, last-moving sprites battle it out in the vast underground caverns. Cartographers are well catered for – if you don’t draw a map you’re very soon up the veritable creek without a paddle. My only niggle is that gameplay becomes a tad repetitive, shoot an enemy guard, grab a bonus, shoot another guard, grab another bonus etc. In short, Switchblade is a good arcade/adventure game that loses out slightly on the playability stakes.

Zzap! – 67/100 (Commodore C64)

A bit of a late conversion and sadly suffering the same faults as the Amiga original. Exploration is fun at first, with plenty of hidden exits and bonuses to discover, but there just isn’t enough graphically or gameplay variety to keep you coming back. Most baddies are easily dispatched by standing on a crate and kicking their heads in – except the countless scuttling scorpions which are hard to avoid/kill and soon get on your nerves.

My Thoughts

Initially I wasn’t overly impressed with the ZX Spectrum version as I found it quite difficult mainly due to the odd controls but once you get used to them the game quickly becomes very enjoyable. It is a big game. The map is massive and you can get lost so a map is needed – not that I ever made one! Graphically, as with a lot of ZX Spectrum games, it’s a monochrome affair which was never a big deal as the graphics are very nicely done and quite detailed given the general small size of them. I never completed Switchblade, at most i’ve gotten 50% of the way through the game and that’s after multiple replays over the years. It’s definitely a great game. It’s not a classic, but it is good and I do enjoy going back to it time and again.

The Music

ZX Spectrum 128k – In-Game
Commodore C64 – In-Game

About Phendrena

Father, Retro Gamer, PC Gamer.

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