This quality remake of Sir Fred was made by some people calling themselves "Retro Works", for the "Computer Emuzone Game Studio" label. The game was originally made for the Spectrum and Amstrad in 1986 by the "Made in Spain" team. (Apart from this game, "Computer Emuzone" also distributes a few new Spanish games for ZX Spectrum and Amstrad.) Sir Fred el Remake is faithful to the original as far as gameplay is concerned, but its look has been greatly enhanced. It's a 2D platform arcade adventure which is divided into rooms.
A princess has been kidnapped and you, Sir Fred, are the only knight not already on a quest. So it becomes your task to find and rescue the princess from an evil baron's castle. The game starts in the castle's garden, from where you can go either left or right, trying to gain entry to the castle's rooms. Locations are dangerous and often connected through secret paths (which may sometimes be found by walking where walking would seem impossible). Items like rocks, ropes or matches which can sometimes be found in rooms. They can be used to gain access to other rooms, to kill enemies or for some special purpose.
A lot of exploring and some planning ahead is required, together with accurate timing and precise movement. Avoiding the numerous obstacles is hard, but the puzzles are pretty simple and mechanical (use a key to unlock a door, activate switches by throwing objects etc.). Surprisingly, there are no classic traps. The game is occasionally neither logical nor realistic, but it's usually intuitive. Sometimes you have to try your sword against the castle's guards which is quite a challenge.
Sounds and low-res graphics were both done with a great sense of detail and humour. Although music only plays during the intro, menu and ending, ambient sound of crickets, water, wind and rain during the game make up for it. Twinkling stars, drifting clouds, flowers, and shadows, especially at the beginning of the game look very appealing. In the castle garden, these will hopefully keep you from quitting too soon, while still trying to figure out the game's frustrating mechanics. The animations for your character, Sir Fred, are very lifelike. He blinks and grimaces, and h enormous nose bounces while he runs.
This gentle knight is nothing like the heroes we encounter in modern platform games. (In fact, having played modern platforms will be a hinderance when trying to get used to this one.) Sir Fred is a bit slow and easily hurt, not only when dropping from heights, but also when hitting ceilings, walls or even stairs. He has only one life and his health declines easily. And the main character's sluggishness is just one of the oddities about this game: some platforms can be climbed, others can't. Some guards can be killed only with a sword, others only with something else, etc. Sir Fred appears to be consistent and user-friendly, but at its core there's a strange old Spectrum game.
After the initial shock however (the game's beginning is fairly hard), Sir Fred el Remake is actually very playable and not so hard after all. It is also short, because the load/save feature reduces the need for careful planning and frequent restarting. The great variety of rooms will keep you motivated to explore further, and eventually you find the room with the princess and finish the game.
The eplayability of this game is very high. Items are generated (some are guaranteed, others are generated randomly) so it is always possible to solve the rooms. Of course, the solution will vary, depending on which items can be found nearby. The location of the final room may also vary. Another motivation is percentage of visited rooms; can you find them all? For example, there exists a mysterious locked door I could not open with the key...
The manual for this remake is not detailed enough. Some abilities of the main character, like swinging the rope, should have been explained. Also, some items, like the rope, have to be used from pixel-perfect position, and it is very hard to start playing without this information.
(I assume that this does not qualify as a spoiler, so this is how you swing a rope correctly: do not hold the key. Shortly tap the arrow key in the direction your character is facing. Sir Fred will turn the other way and swing the rope a little. Repeat whenever the rope is near full-amplitude position. If you hold the arrow key or tap the arrow pointing Sir Fred's back, he will jump off the rope.)
Sir Fred is not a game that can be played merely for pleasure or release of agression. Some enemies are an equal match for your character and you might not progress as fast as you expected. Just remember that you are obliged to save the princess and demonstrate chivalry. That should help you keep your spirits up and bring the game to the end.
Review by: Pio
Killing animals, Killing armed knights (no blood), Some tortured prisoners
Safe for ages: 13+
Windows 98 or XP
A slightly faster computer is recommended for when "cloud transparency" is turned on.