Skull (ZX Spectrum / C64) :-
The plot for this 1984 title from Games Machine is pretty much what you read on the front cover (see above)......Enter The Catacombs, Hunt The Treasure, Avoid the Traps....Watch Out For The Skull!
So with this straightforward set-up, you start with your character in a first-person view and wander through the 3D catacomb maze, in the hunt for said loot to boost your score! The traps that you have to avoid come in the form of gaping holes in the ground, trapdoors that open up randomly to reveal more gaping holes in the ground, portcullises that will sometimes trip when you walk past and trap you...and of course, the giant wandering Skulls Of Doom!
Portcullises can opened or closed by using keys, which you'll find lying around in the maze too, but if you get trapped behind one without a key you'll have to wait until a trapdoor opens up beneath you and kills you, resetting you elsewhere in the maze. You can trap the skulls with clever use of the portcullises and keys too though!
If you hang around above a trapdoor, they'll open up and plunge you to your demise, so it's best to hurry past those! Whenever you fall through a hole, you get treated to a psychedelic, multi-coloured screen flash before you kick the bucket!
The skulls can be attacked, but not got rid of, by picking up green crosses that are also scattered about, and these work like the power-pills in Pac-Man, giving you a short amount of time (about 15 seconds) to chase down the skulls and collect the gems that their eyes become when you collect the cross! You'll need to be really quick though, and careful that they don't suddenly change back just as you reach them!
To help you out, you also have a lucky charm bracelet that you can see below your view. On this you'll see any skulls that are nearby, and you can tell how far away the are by the colour of the skull...
CYAN - 4 or more steps away
GREEN - 3 steps away
MAGENTA - 2 steps away
RED - 1 step away
There's also a map at the side of the screen, but that quickly becomes obscured by some sort of dark magic, so if you want to view the map you need to fork out some of your cash for a plan! This shows you where the treasure is, your position on the map, the position of all the skulls and traps and also any ladders that will allow you to descend to lower levels of the maze safely...
And that's pretty much the gist of the game! I played the Speccy version first and whilst finding it to be quite enjoyable, it was a bit tricky at first due to the key layout. But once I set up my joystick as Cursor it became a lot easier. I'd still probably pick the Commodore version over the Speccy one though, as it has more spooky sound effects and the trippy drop-sequence is even more psychedelic and noisy!
The game won't blow you away with it's amazing-ness, as it doesn't really have any! But if you fancy a fairly-standard-if-sometimes-awkward-to-control jaunt around a 3D maze avoiding giant skulls this Halloween, you could do a lot worse than this!