Last year’s CPCRetroDev competition, a contest that rewards creative developers for submitting new games for the Amstrad CPC, saw a wealth of quality gaming titles for Lord Sugar’s 8-bit personal computer system. We already covered the 2018 winner, Operation Alexandra, in a previous review and now its time to take a look at the runner up title, Jarlac by Retrobytes Productions.
Jarlac tells the tale of of true love and happiness between the mighty warrior Jarlac and the beautiful Arlett living in the kingdom of Tyramat. They enjoyed their lives together in bliss until a dark sorcerer fell in love with Arlett and tried to woo her away but Arlett only has eyes for Jarlac.
Scorned from being rejected, the Sorceror casts a spell on Arlett and turns her into a stone statue. Hearing of the Sorcers actions, Jarlac rushes back home to find Arlett her petrified state but he notices that in her hand she holds a clue to reversing the spell – a heart of stone.
So it’s up to you to take control of Jarlac and his trusty sword and guide him around the lands of Tyramat to collect 13 heart fragments and the lost parchment that is required to cast the spell to restore Arlett to her normal self.
But this is no straight forward task as the heart fragments can only be collected when you have enough magic power to cast a powerful spell that kills all enemies on the screen an frees the hearts.
Magic power is collected by killing enemies, when the magic indicator fills up then you are ready to cast your spell. The game features re-spawning of enemies, which you can use to your advantage by going in and out of screen containing less difficult enemies to finish them off and quickly build up your magic energy that way.
Jarlac also features an energy bar and five lives and water pools can be used to restore energy, while lava pits will have the opposite effect. The generous allocation of lives ensures that the game is immediately accessible to all players. Over all the game difficulty is very well balanced, rising gradually throughout the game.
One nice touch is the recognition that a broad sword is not a good close combat weapon, so you need to have some distance between you and an enemy in order to eliminate them otherwise you will sustain hits.
Jarlac features flip screens which can be somewhat tricky at times when you have to make off screen jumps. The need to make off screen jumps is perhaps the only negative to the overall game design as it can be somewhat frustrating to miss you jump and find that you have to navigate your way back a few screens, fighting through respawning enemies. Otherwise, navigating Jarlac across Tyramat is quite enjoyable.
Once you have collected the 13 heart fragments and the parchment, you are ready to face off against the dark Sorceror, who proves to be somewhat easy to defeat
The graphics on display are colourful and quite beautiful. There is plenty of variation across the game map world, always providing the player with something new to see. The main character sprite is well defined and animated. The music is great even though it may not necessarily fit the theme of the game.
Jarlac is an enjoyable game that is presented very well with its bright and vibrant graphics and its pumping soundtrack. It doesn’t offer anything new for the genre but what is in the game is of good quality.
Bright graphics, fantastic music and engaging and well balanced gameplay all blend so well to provide a compelling arcade adventure game.
Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum games. Contributes to RetroGamerNation YouTube channel, RVG and Vintage is the New Old blog sites, Reset 64 Magazine, The 8-Bit Annual and various other publications.