#365Games28: Blackthorne – GBA

Blackthorne popped up around the golden age of 16-bit action platforming with smooth animations, moody music and cool character designs. It took the fluidity (and other elements) of Flashback/Prince of Persia and set it in a Conan type world with guns and ogre things and since it’s a Blizzard game, that’s not really a surprise.

I was a fan of the game after playing a shareware demo of it on the PC and the Jim Lee cover on the official releases sold it for me. I spent hours just walking around getting bombs from the prisoners and then shooting them, sort of demented but I can’t think of another game where you can walk away from a person, pause and shoot without ever turning around.

The story of Blackthorne (via Wikipedia) Blackthorne is set on the planet Tuul, which has existed for hundreds of years without human knowledge. All of this time, Tuul’s people have been ruled over by a single shaman who “was blessed with all knowledge”. Years before the game begins, Thoros, the latest ruler, finds it near impossible to choose between his two sons as the next ruler. Believing it will solve the dilemma, he leads them to the deserts and kills himself. His body becomes two stones, light and dark, and he gives one to each boy to rule their own kingdoms respectively. The people of the lightstone form the kingdom of Androth, and the people of the Darkstone form Ka’dra’suul. But while Androth respects their stone, Ka’dra’suul reject theirs, and are eventually transformed into monsters by it. In this time, a ka’dra named Sarlac seizes power. He forms an army and leads them against Androth.

Knowing of his people’s doom, the ruler of Androth, King Vlaros, with the aid of the Androth magician Galadril, sends his son Kyle to Earth to save his life. Vlaros also gives Kyle the lightstone for safe keeping. He wishes that Kyle can one day return and use it to save their people.

20 years later, Kyle has become a renowned military captain and mercenary. After breaking out of prison facing court martial, Kyle begins having strange dreams, and eventually is reconfronted by Galadril. He is told that it is time to return to Tuul and save his people. The game begins here with Kyle setting out to kill Sarlac and reclaim his throne.

It had been years since I played Blackthorne so when I saw the re-release for the GBA, I had to get a copy. Right from the beginning I was disappointed with this version of the game, the graphics were washed out and the number of colors present in the SNES pixels was cut in half. The change in the graphics dramatically altered the mood of the game and watered down the initial experience. The animation is still solid and no frames appear to have been cut for the GBA but the music is a bit tinny and sounds muted.

The gameplay is solid so you aren’t missing any of the above average action platforming and the puzzles aren’t deep but they’ll hold your interest for a bit. If you’re looking for a throwback game to play on the road, get a copy but I would stick with the original versions, especially the exceptional 32X copy … it’s worth it.