Monday, 2 November 2020

Sabnack (X68000)

 There's something about the title of this game that's just so ugly, isn't there? Look at it: Sabnack. Ugh. The game itself doesn't look very nice, either, considering it's a commercial release on the X68000, a computer known for having amazing looking ports of arcade games years before consoles could really manage it. But let's not hold those things against it, as a game it's actually alright. In fact, it manages to make a Sokoban-style game actually interesting!


I usually find the block-pushing action of Sokoban games as embodying a combination of negative traits. Right from the start, they're usually too difficult to even get ahold on them, and you couple this with the fact that they're often literally about pushing boxes in a warehouse and it's all so off-putting and unrewarding that I just don't want to figure out how to get further into them.


Sabnack solves both issues! It opens with stages that are deceptively easy, teaching you how all the game's elements work and interact with each other, before gradually turning up the difficulty as you go on. I managed to get through eight whole stages before it got too hard for me! 


You play as a little man in a cape, and you can go up to statues and bring them to life, so they follow you, until getting stuck behind a wall or something makes them go more than one space away from you, at which time they urn back into statues. The goal of each stage is to take the fairy to the exit, and turn her back into a statue. But there are also enemies in each stage, and if any of them touch you or an un-statued fairy, you fail (though you get infinite lives, so it's not too bad). There are other statues around, too, like knights, who destroy enemies with whom they come into contact, and guys that look like wizards, whose purpose I haven't been able to figure out. So each stage uses these elements, along with various different kinds of enemies that each have their own movement rules, to create all kindss of different challenges for the player. It's that "purity" thing I've talked about before.


However, just like with puzzle platformers, I have to put my hands up and admit that this is a genre of game I just don't get along with. If you do, it definitely seems like a high-quality, well-designed iteration of the concept that's worth giving a shot. A cop out of a conclusion, but there it is.


  1. In regards to the ugly-sounding name, "Sabnack" is the name of one of the 72 demons in the Ars Goetia, which show up in a lot of fantasy stuff from Japan.

  2. Interesting stuff, never heard of this.

  3. BTW. Love this website, very cool stuff.