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Knight Lore was developed and published by Ultimate Play the Game in 1984. The game is part of the Sabrewulf series and features Sabrewulf trying to put together a special potion. The game also features a day/night cycle which affects the gameplay. The game was released on numerous computers and rereleased on the Xbox One collection Rare Replay in 2015.

KnightLore   KnightLore

Best Time: 0:12:58 by Patrick 'PJ' DiCesare on 2015-12-20

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Author's comments:

Note:  This run was performed using the Rare Replay port as opposed to the original ZX Spectrum version.  As far as I can tell from footage of the original, it looks accurate.  I initially thought the immense lag was a porting problem, but it runs that way on ZX Spectrum as well.  I cannot personally speak to the accuracy though because I've never played the original.

Knightlore is a really interesting game.  It is one of the earliest isometric platformers out there (might actually be the first, not sure), so it introduced some concepts that would later be used in classics like Solstice.  It does have quite a few limitations, though.  This was a really fun project to work on, but I have no interest in improving this run.  I'll be the first to say that this run CAN be improved, but the execution is not nearly as interesting to me as the routing was.

I should go over the goal and mechanics of this game, because it is not a well-known game and is extremely confusing at first glance.  A really, really good resource can be found here:  I will be referencing the map and item charts in these comments, so it should be a useful supplement.

Sabreman, our main character, is cursed to transform into a werewolf every single night.  We have to sit through a lengthy transformation animation every time he transforms, during which time we have no control but are still vulnerable.  Sabreman ignores gravity and moving platforms during these transformations too, which makes several rooms extremely inconvenient.  In order to break the curse, he needs to visit the cauldron in the center of the map and drop in 14 items in a specific order.  To make things more interesting, you must drop the items as a human; if you are a werewolf, the sparkle in the room will kill you.  The cauldron will always tell you what item to drop in next, and if you do drop in an incorrect item, it simply gets destroyed.  It does not affect the sequence.  The drop sequence is always the same, but the starting point in that sequence changes depending on the RNG seed.  Similarly, while the item locations in the map are fixed, the item itself is not fixed.  There are 8 different item seeds, so every item location on the map can be any of those 8 items depending on the seed.  Referencing the strategywiki will clarify this significantly.

Every item appears 4 times on the map, and we need two of each item (7 different items, 14 total) to break the curse and win the game.  This was going to make routing significantly challenging, but fortunately there are only exactly 8 RNG seeds in this game (one for each item seed).  Each seed determines our starting position, the cauldron sequence starting point, and all the item assignments on map.  May as well mention all the seeds here so I can throw away this scrap of paper that I wrote it on.  All the item seeds and cauldron orders are referencing the strategywiki nomenclature:

Item seed 1: Bottom left starting point.  Cauldron starts on left teacup.
Item seed 2: Bottom left starting point.  Cauldron starts on left teacup.
Item seed 3: Upper left starting point.  Cauldron starts on left bottle.
Item seed 4: Upper right starting point.  Cauldron starts on left crystal ball.
Item seed 5: Bottom left starting point.  Cauldron starts on left teacup.
Item seed 6: Bottom left starting point.  Cauldron starts on left teacup.
Item seed 7: Bottom right starting point.  Cauldron starts on right goblet.
Item seed 8: Bottom left starting point.  Cauldron starts on left teacup.

The routing was rather involved and I don't want to bore everybody with the details.  In general, you need to collect 2 of each item except for one.  There are 8 different kinds of items, but only 7 are used in the cauldron sequence.  The 8th item is a 1up.  I wanted to use the 1up item slot to eliminate items that have really bad distributions on the map.  The main issue is that "Item D" has 3 locations in the upper left and one in the bottom right.  Both of these quadrants are extremely out of the way and laggy.  The only way to actually get 2 of "Item D" is to start in the upper left and collect them at the start, but there is only one seed that starts in the upper left and that seed has a lot of other issues.  The next best option was to make sure that "Item D" was a 1up so I didn't need to collect it.  As it turns out, the rest of that seed also works out extremely well so it was a pretty easy decision to make.  Item seed 1 was the plan.  The RNG starts fresh on a reset, so we can manipulate the RNG seed (and therefore item seed) by just using an audio cue from the title screen music to start the game.

The controls in this game are not nearly as good as you would hope.  You cannot change direction very fluidly, and every jump is commital.  The height of the jump is determined by how long you hold the button.  When you collect an item, it is put into slot 1 by default.  Every time you push the item/pickup/drop button, it shifts every item one slot.  Actually planning how to manage the item slots, in what order to collect the items, and where to leave items behind is a key part of the route.  Again, I won't get into the specifics too much here, but I will say that this is absolutely the best route I have found for collection and distribution of items.

Another thing worth noting is that you can jump off of items, and grab items as you jump off of them, but you cannot do this in mid-air (and again you can't change direction in mid-air either) so the utility of this trick is limited.  There is also a limit of 3 items per screen, and you are completely unable to drop/rotate inventory/collect any item if that is the case.  As a result, I have to be very careful where I leave items and when I plan to collect others.

As for actual strats pertaining to speed, there are two things to keep in mind: managing the day/night cycles so you are always transforming back into human before depositing items into the cauldron, and spending the least amount of time in laggy rooms.  When waiting for night to end, you want to wait in empty rooms so time ticks by quicker.  Lag is extremely important to manage.  In this run, I made a major mistake in one of the laggiest rooms in the game.  Despite not missing any day/night cycles, I lost a bunch of real time to the lag.  One other thing that is worth noting is that time does not stop during a death/respawn.  If you manage to die just before a transformation is about to begin, you will respawn transformed and skip the animation.  In places where you want to death warp anyways, it is a good idea to try to time it such.  I manage one of these skips in this run.

The last thing of critical importance in this route is a room that MURPHAGATOR has coined "Mr Ghost's Wild Ride".  Conveniently, it is at the very end of the run.  It is a completely empty room with a ghost carrying a platform.  I am absolutely required to use this platform to exit the room.  The ghost moves significantly faster than me, completely randomly, and the platform is two tiles high which means I need to do a max height jump (which is commital).  It requires absolutely insane predictions and godly luck to exit, and if you transform after landing on the platform, you fall off.  It is not uncommon for me to lose 2 entire days to this room or to just straight game over.  While I lost a lot of time here in this run, it is still SOLIDLY above average and I didn't miss any in-game cycles.

There is a lot of room for improvement in this run, but I don't think the route can be improved much.  Most of the improvement just comes from playing flawlessly through the extremely laggy rooms, and wasting time in the empty rooms to manipulate the day cycles a bit better.  I have had a number of runs 30-45 seconds ahead going into Mr. Ghost's Wild Ride that ended up finishing 2 minutes later.  The luck in that room is insane.  I really get no enjoyment out of doing attempts of this; I mostly enjoyed this as a routing exercise.  I would definitely welcome anybody to improve this, but for now this is a good start on a very deserving game.

I hope you enjoy the run!

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