Sinbad the merchant spent so much time at sea that he became known as Sinbad the Sailor. If you buy this game you'll be at sea too! Despite my initial worries that ths was going to bore me stupid, I found the game to be so challenging and compulsive that I've been playing it for hours.
The game is in four parts, to you four and a half! Sinbad has been captured by Sultan Salabim and thrown into a dungeon. Bent on revenge, Sinbad resolves to escape and rob the Sultan blind.
The first part of the game is a maze in which Sinbad must escape from the dungeon by collecting two keys. To get the keys he must first collect eight pieces of treasure scattered about the dungeon.
The passageways are protected by death gates which open and close as Sinbad wanders about. To reach the treasure and the keys he must wait until the gates are open and then dash through quickly. This is not helped by the fact that there are strange creatures down in the dungeon.
Apart from patrolling guards there are snakes and fast-moving vultures to contend with. Sinbad can blast these with some magical power or other but only if they are directly in front of him. The power only works horizontally on the screen, not vertically.
There are also two magic lamps which have the dual effect of doubling Sinbad's speed and allowing him to gain bonus points by passing through an enemy.
When both keys have been collected and the locked door opened, Sinbad must face the palace guards.
We now enter a platform game in which guards appear from behind closed doors. Sinbad, armed with a scimitar, has to chop down all of the guards if he is to escape. There is also a tough leader to overcome.
Each time a guard is hit the tally at the top of the screen reduces, but if Sinbad is hit, the tally at the top of the screen is increased. If this reaches four then Sinbad loses one of his five lives. If the guard which hits Sinbad is the leader the result is instant loss of a life.
Every so often a magic lamp appears; if Sinbad reaches the lamp his hit tally is reduced to zero and he can start scything his way through the enemy afresh.
The leader is harder to defeat than the ordinary guards. Four hits are needed before he dies and, if Sinbad loses a life in the meantime, all of the leader's hits are healed. The best tactic is to avoid this green meanie until last.
Next, Sinbad steals a camel caravan from the Sultan and must guide it across the desert to his home in Baghdad. As he crosses the desert there are hordes of creatures intent on bringing the camels to their knees. Sinbad must kill these creatures using an infinite supply of stones and protect his five camels as they traverse the screen one at a time.
To speed things up he can also hit the camels which makes them trot faster for a little while.
The Sultan is obviously annoyed about this theft and despatches the giant Roc birds and his personal bodyguards to kill Sinbad in a ferocious aerial shoot-'em-up.
Seated on a magic carpet, Sinbad has to shoot the guards once to kill them but the Rocs are tough old birds and take three hits. Once the enemy have been destroyed in this way, the Sultan himself intervenes riding on the back of a dragon.
This is the second half of this scenario and the dragon must be hit fifteen times before death results and the sailor wins the game.
Each section of the game must be completed once to find the special passwords which allow entry to the next screen whenever you play the game again. If you succeed in defeating the Sultan you are exhorted to try again without using the passwords.
This is harder than it may appear because the time limits on each stage are very tight. To succeed in time you have to give a faultless performance and there is a certain element of luck which makes the game annoyingly addictive.
Further encouragement to complete the game is given by the eastern promise of a prize for the first person to reveal the on-screen message at the end of a completed game without the use of passwords.