Melkhior's Mansion was one of the great surprise games from earlier this year. Released for PC, Mac, and Linux (with a Spectrum Next conversion on the way), it was a free throwback to Atic Atac, the Ultimate Play the Game classic of old. And featured gorgeous retro-inflected visuals, gripping gameplay, and plenty of nods to the Stampers, and the Leicestershire town of Ashby-De-La-Zouch – where Ultimate (which would become Rare) got its start.
We're therefore happy to see that one of the key developers on that project, Richard Jordan, has recently announced a new game, Undrium — this time taking influence from Ultimate's action-adventure title Underwurlde, released for the ZX Spectrum in 1984 and Commodore 64 in 1985.
Jordan tells us over Twitter the project won't be a sequel to Melkhior's Mansion, but is instead just another homage to the work of the Stamper Brothers and Ultimate, whose games he grew up playing on a rubber-keyed Speccy back in the early '80s.
Again, because of the obvious ties to Ultimate and likely with an eye towards Rare's lawyers, Undrium will be another non-commercial project, and is currently planned for release on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. As for when precisely that will happen, there's still no exact date yet. But Jordan says it likely will be within a year, as opposed to the three-year-development cycle of the last game.
"The game will be built using Monogame, same as Melkhior's," he explains. "And I plan to do everything myself: coding, pixels and music. The plan at the moment is to have a large map, like Underwurlde, from which the hero must escape by reaching the top. It's scrolling, not flip screen, and is set over 8 areas, 4 in the castle, and 4 in the caverns."
He continues, "In addition to the main map, I'd also like to add a set of time trial maps that get progressively longer and harder, for those who just want to enjoy a quick jump around, and challenge themselves to a speed run. You know the kind of thing, complete a level, move to the next, etc, etc."
As fans of Ultimate Play the Game, we can't wait to hear more about this exciting, retro project, and to see how it holds up against the original experience. But, if Melkhior's Mansion is anything to go by, arguably we're in for a treat.
Should you want to revisit Underwurlde in the meantime, you can always dust off your old ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64 and pick up a copy secondhand, or play it as part of the Rare Replay collection, released for Xbox One.