Blast from the Past: The Castle Game on MSX

By | February 20, 2013

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If I have to pick one video game that sums up my childhood, it would be “The Castle” on MSX Sakhr computers. I love everything about this game: the soundtrack, the memories, the little dude who can also pass as an old man or a little girl who jumps noisily, the props, the stages of the game, the coloured keys, the fairy you rescue at first then the princess you rescue in the end.

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I also love the fact that with every room there is something that triggers a memory to play in my head. Mostly, memories with my father who adored and played this game himself. Spent hours sketching a map for the castle rooms and naming the villans and different items in the castle rooms. I think it was my father who figured out how to get past the spider that looks like purple spaghetti, you have to wait for it to sleep. I loved how the electricity would electrocute anyone who gets caught into it if it changes from idle to active.

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I loved the basemet rooms with their red bricks. In this particular room, when the bricks are sent via the conveyer built to kill the villan below, I remember my father commenting that he is sending him a gift and me laughing out loud as the gift was delivered.

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I also remember that I was the one who could figure out when to exactly jump from this elevator to avoid the spikes and get the keys and goodies. Timing and patience are very important when playing this game.

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My father called the candle below “The Cake” and whenever I see it I imagine myself having a big slice of chocolate cake smothered in cream. It was only when I started playing the game again in the 2000’s that I realized it was a candle not a cake! Oh well, cake is more delicious.

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I clearly remember the day my father made it to the water section with the oxygene tanks, he showed me his progress the moment I woke up from my sleep.

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The days of playing with my father ended with us figuring rescuing this fairy. We truly believed that if we did rescue her, the game would be over.

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Then one day we did rescue her and she said “Thank you! Take the red key and save the princess”. It doesn’t say saw in the emulator’s version but it did so in the cartridge version. The rest of the game I played on my own.

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It gets harder as you go up. For days on end I got underneath that rainbow beam and tried to go past the spikes in the next room, only to lose the protection provided by the beam midaway and fail in my quest.

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Afterwards, the game gets more complicated. You must figure out how to exactly move the bricks and such to get to the next room in the castle. It still is fun as long as no rainbow beam is involved.

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Years later, I finished the game and rescued the princess for real. I did save my progress but now the state files won’t work for some reason but I did! If you want to see the ending you can find it on youtube. But the sense of accomplishment in the end, when finally the pretty princess was saved, was amazing.

By the way we called the game “The Princess & The Key” game because on the cartridge there was a picture of a princess gazing wistfully and some key somewhere. I didn’t even realize it was called the castle until the emulator days. Do you remember this game from the 80’s? What did you call it back then?


4 Comments

Lady Gula on February 21, 2013 at 08:10.

I love The Castle. I remember how my dad, mom and aunt laboriously went through this game, even painstakingly drawing the rooms to accuracy and calculating heights and length of jumps just to get through each room… if I’m not mistaken, there was no way to ‘Save’ your progress which meant that you had to play from the beginning if you ran out of lives even when nearing the end. Later, we celebrated their completing it at Caesar’s Restaurant in Kuwait City. There was a sequel to it, too; Castle Excellence, which is not any different in strategy.

After discovering an MSX emulator a few years ago online, I found The Castle again and still play it every few months.

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danderma on February 21, 2013 at 08:24.

The castle excellence is another one of my favourites but its much harder! I still cannot finish it even with the emulator! One day I will though!
How sweet! Celebrating finishing the game! And Caesar’s! Spot on!

The good old days <3

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Naser on March 2, 2013 at 06:33.

We used to call it al qal3a translated to us by my uncle who was also the best player of the game. We used to invent ways to keep the tab button pressed all the time to make the game go faster like using a perfume bottle or more conveniently having one of the younger people of the group press it for a chance of having front seat view of the game being played by the master.

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danderma on March 3, 2013 at 08:07.

Ah the tab button! I didn’t dare use it much back in the day but it sure is a life saver!

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