Undrium in action
Image: Richard Jordan

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, as well as plenty of nods to the Stampers, and Ashby-De-La-Zouch – where Ultimate got its start.

As a result, we're excited to see that one of the key developers, Richard Jordan, has recently announced another Ultimate-inspired game, called Undrium — this time taking influence from Ultimate's action-adventure title Underwurlde, which was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1984.

Jordan tells us over Twitter the project won't be a sequel to Melkhior's Mansion, but that it is instead 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. Because of the obvious nods 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.

Undrium in action 2
According to Jordan, the game will have a choice of palettes. Here's a glimpse at the Spectrum palette. — Image: Richard Jordan

"The game will be built using Monogame, same as Melkhior's," he tells Time Extension. "And I plan to do everything myself: coding, pixels and music.

"The plan at the moment," he continues, "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. 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."

We can't wait to hear more about this exciting, retro project, and to see how it holds up against the original. 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 consoles.