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Review #043: Saboteur! (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Nov 17, 2018

Reviewed By: Chad M.

Developed By: Clive Townsend

Published By: SimFabric

Category: Arcade, Action, Adventure, Platformer

Release Date: 11.09.2018

Download Saboteur! from the Nintendo eShop here.

The Classic Feel Made Anew

In 1985 I was three years old, so that meant I wasn’t gaming, but rather, chilling out watching The Bozo the Clown Show or Fraggle Rock. That was the same year that my brother stopped playing his Atari, having gotten an NES for Christmas. That 8-bit greatness would not only be loved then, but over many years to come. It’s to the point where, even now in 2018, developers are making games paying homage to the days of 8-bit.

In that same year, a game called Saboteur! was released, and it was received as a critical darling. In 1985, Saboteur! received the prestigious award, "The Crash Smash" from Crash Magazine, and was rated with a 93% score. It was created by Clive Townsend and published by Durell Software in 1985 for several 8-bit home computer formats. Saboteur! is a stealth action-adventure game, and now, after thirty-three years, SimFabric, in collaboration with Clive Townsend, have worked to bring a special remastered version of Saboteur! to the Nintendo Switch.

Ninjas Do It Better

You begin the game as an anonymous ninja, tasked with getting into a warehouse to steal a floppy disk, which has the names of rebel leaders on it. You stealthily speedboat in, and then have to make your way through the complex of rooms—consisting of the warehouse, dark underground tunnels, and the secret command center—to find the disk and escape. Along the way, you encounter deadly attack dogs, trained mercenaries, and gun turrets. There’s nothing like ninja-staring a deadly dog right before it gets you, jump-kicking a mercenary right in the head, leaving him unconscious, then tip-toeing off to finish your mission.

Gameplay & Fun Factor

The gameplay is fairly straightforward, as you only use two buttons aside from movement and jumping. The first is your drop kick, and second is the button you use to interact, pick up items, and throw weapons. The gameplay is what all homage-paying developers strive to accomplish when creating modern 8-bit games. The gameplay is fluid, and it allows you to just have fun. I never played—but I had heard of—Saboteur! before this review, but I’m certainly happy it found me as an adult and not as a child. I’m not sure if I would have been able to appreciate the gameplay and graphics as I do now.

There is a clock that counts down, and when you achieve your mission, you set a bomb. This again starts a clock, so you’re always pressured to make the right choices and handle your enemies the best you can. Luckily, you can also choose your difficulty, which makes it easier on your early playthrough experiences, until you’re more comfortable. Raising the difficulty will place more guards and dogs, and make them more lethal. In addition, It will leave some doors locked, and make the game overall more challenging, which only adds to the replay value. Also adding to the replayability is the fact that you can unlock achievements as you go; for example, taking out a guard with his back to you with a shuriken will unlock such achievements.

Audio & Visuals

The soundtrack is straight from the 1985 version, and shows just how great games sounded back in the 80’s, with music that truly gave the feel of a solid stealth game. The visuals and graphics are the true masterpiece of the game and its presentation. You can choose your Saboteur! experience from a plethora of different consoles: the original ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari, Game Boy and—my personal favorite—the original NES. This gave the already fun experience that many more layers. I kept changing it over and over, but couldn’t get over how beautiful it was on the NES.

Final Thoughts

Saboteur! was a pleasant surprise. As soon as I played it, I was perplexed as to why it took so long for me to get around to playing this game. I believe it was a brilliant choice by SimFabric to bring this classic to the Switch so everyone can enjoy it and play it on the go. I tip my hat to Clive Townsend, and encourage everyone to add this classic to their Switch library immediately!

Final Score: 9/10

Download Saboteur! from the Nintendo eShop here.

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