I’m a huge Dizzy fan, so to hear of any unreleased works by The Oliver Twins is always quite exciting. Thanks to Fabrizio Bartoloni, the following game was brought to my attention.
Excalibur was to be a top down adventure game, heavily inspired by titles such as Gauntlet. Here is what the Oliver Twins had to say about it on their webpage:
“We designed and started coding a very ambitious game called Excalibur inspired by Atari’s Gauntlet, but this was more of a top-down adventure game where the player had to explore and find treasures in a mediaeval world. We pitched the idea to Firebird and they agreed to £10,000 for three versions – Amstrad, Spectrum and Commodore 64. Given their past performance we weren’t prepared to continue until a contract turned up and so decided to pitch a new game to other publishers at ECTS in the first week of September ‘86 in London.”
The game was based on the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table, and with levels procedurally generated (inspired by The Sentinel) in a Gauntlet-like fashion, with additional inspirations from a Dragon 32 text-based game called Quest.
The game was one or two player, where you acted a a knight travelling around the ancient Kingdom of Camelot in search of Excalibur. With the procedurally generated map, the landscape was massive – with forests, clearings, roads, rivers and bridges with small hamlets (as well as villages and castles).
When players approached settlements, the names were procedurally generated too – inspired this time by Elite and its planet naming system. You could find and loot treasure along the way, where you could also hold different weapons and items to help battle enemies within your path.
As far a development goes, work was carried out at first on the Amstrad CPC in mid-1986, and by August they pitched a demo to Firebird, who signed up the game for the Amstrad, Spectrum and C64.
However, things sadly fell through (for reasons as of yet unknown), with just the Amstrad version ever started at around a half complete status. No Spectrum or C64 version had yet been started to our knowledge.
A huge shame that there is likely nothing to see here, but hopefully some day at least we’ll get to see the Amstrad edition.
Contributions: Fabrizio Bartoloni