|A player dons the helmet of Justice as Treguard looks on|
The concept was simple, a team of four children would embark on a quest to retrieve an artifact from the dungeon. One child played as the "dungeoneer" and wore the "helmet of justice" effectively blinding them (to the primitive TV technology available at the time) whilst the remaining three acted as guides watching the action through a "magic mirror" and telling the dungeoneer where to move and what to do.
|L: Treguard (Hugo Myatt) and R: Pickle (David Learner)|
Spells Yes, Combat and Roleplay No
Often players would be required to cast spells in order to defeat a puzzle, these consisted of the dungeoneer spelling out a word. I was never sure whether this mechanism was deployed due to the limitations of the technology or as an educational content element to pass the TV commissioners scrutiny. The technology was definitely a limiting factor with regards combat and the producers eschewed the opportunity to add a roleplaying element with the dungeoneers always being known by their real names. In essence the show was essentially a puzzle solving exercise and although there was some inspiration to be got from viewing in hindsight it was pretty limited, but nevertheless a fun show to watch.
The show used the chromakey tecchnology to superimose the "real" world onto the digitised matte paintings of the "virtual" dungeon, the work of airbrush artist David Rowe who had painted a few of the more popular 8bit game covers of the early 80s.
|Dungeoneer Martin gets fried by Sorceress Morghanna|
|Behind the scenes view of a typical room which |
demonstrates the "blue screen" (chromakey)
technique that the show used extensively
Knightmare: The Boardgame and the Adventure Gamebooks
It wasn't long after the show's debut that the first of six gamebooks were released, between 1998 and 1993, in an interesting part novella part gamebook format. The obligatory TV boardgame was released by MB in 1991 and seems lack lustre and pedestrian by comparison to other earlier MB adventure games such as Heroquest both incidentally designed by Stephen Baker.
Groundbreaking For It's Time
Although I look back at this early attempt at an immersive TV show through rose tinted nostalgia glasses, it's hard not to be impressed with what they achieved. An attempt at a CGI reboot (known as Knightmare VR) was attempted with a pilot in the early 00s, but to date no channel has attempted this level of immersion in a mixed media environment. The BBC have come close with the creditable shows Trapped!, Raven and Mission 2110 which are essentially reworkings of the Crystal Maze physical challenge format with expensive sets.
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