Atic Atac was an all time classic and at the time raised the bar for ZX Spectrum games, the graphics were polished and the sound was as good as it gets.
The gameplay was just right, it wasn’t impossible to play but at the same time you couldn’t complete the game too quickly.
The game was a success for Ultimate Play the Game who were based in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, interesting fact was that Ultimate was the trading name of Ashby Computers and Graphics which shortened became ACG – the name of the key you look for in this game
The game is presented in a top-down perspective and is set inside a labyrinth of a complex castle. The player has been trapped inside and needs to collect three pieces of the “Golden Key of ACG” in order to escape.
They can choose from three different characters; a Wizard, Knight or Serf. Each character has access to a secret passage unique to them, meaning that navigating the castle is different for each one.
There are a number of items scattered around the castle, of which the player may carry up to three at a time. Some of these are always in the same place at the start of the game, whereas others are distributed randomly.
Items include differently-coloured keys which will unlock their respective doors, the three pieces of the ACG key, and other items that affect certain enemies or are mere red herrings.
Common enemies appear in each room upon entering and will attack the player on sight. Collision with these enemies destroys them but drains a portion of the player’s health.
There are also stationary poisonous fungi which will drain health constantly if the player is in contact with them, and enemies that require special items in order to either distract, repel or kill them, otherwise they remain invulnerable to conventional attacks.
Bosses guard pieces of the ACG key, and contact with them will rapidly drain away the player’s health.
The player has a number of lives upon starting the game, and should they die a gravestone will appear at their location and stay in place as long as the player has lives left.
Health can be replenished by collecting food scattered throughout the castle, however it will constantly drop the more the player moves, thus the player may eventually lose a life from starvation if they have not escaped the castle in time
Here is a short video of me playing the game – not particularly well either.