Krull was based on a movie, but unlike Atari's other movie-to-game licenses (ET & Raiders) Krull is actually fun to play. There was also an arcade game by Gottlieb, so I can only assume the filmmakers hoped the movie would be a great success. Alas, it wasn't. The movie wasn't all that bad, but it was somewhat convoluted being a medieval adventure movie set on another planet complete with a Cyclops, a band of thieves, an army of evil soldiers, super-fast stallions, a wicked spider-lady, a ninja-like weapon called the Glaive, and a boy of prophesy. Wow, that's a lot to take in!
The goal of Krull is to rescue your fiance from the evil Beast and his horde of Slayers. The Slayers kidnap Lyssa in the first level after a valiant attempt by you, Colywn, to protect her. You must travel by horseback to visit the Widow of the Web who can tell you where to find the Black Fortress. Once you learn the location, ride the fire stallions (I believe that's what they were called) to the Black Fortress and smash Lyssa's prison while avoiding the Beast. Once Lyssa is free, she will give you the power to destroy the Beast. At least until the next level.
Graphics throughout the game are superb and some of the best ever on the 2600. Each of the sprites are multicolored and appropriately detailed. The player's character, Colwyn looks great and is smoothly animated. Lyssa is also nicely detailed, but her only animation comes from the lowest part of her dress. The horses are "beautifully articulated" which means they've got some smooth animation! The crystal spider is definitely creepy with it's many legs crawling around.
Other graphic effects include the mountains that scroll by during the riding sections. This trick really enhances the game giving the player a sense of speed. The "Black" Fortress is a beautiful color gradient effect rarely seen in Atari games. The only real thing graphically lacking is the Beast at the end. He's mostly one color and in a lower resolution than the other characters. Humph...
The sound is as otherworldly as the movie was. After a few brief notes of the "Wedding March" the Slayers appear with a heart-pounding march of their own. Their lasers singe the air and sound much like arrows. The horses gallop over the ground in a "cliddy-clop, cliddy-clop" manner. The music of the Widow's lair sounds much like chandeliers tinkling in a light breeze. The Glaive whooshes towards Lyssa's prison with swift determination. And the sound of death is as abrupt as true life. In short, the sounds in Krull are great!
Another thing that separates this game from the rest is the sense that it is all played in "real-time." In the movie, the Black Fortress would magically transport itself to a different place on the planet Krull each morning at sunrise. The game also includes a "time of day" in the top bar. When it is blue, it is daytime. Orange is sunset or sunrise and dark gray is night time. A simulated sun will even rise and set through this bar to complete the effect.
This adds a bit of strategy to the game. For example, if it is night and the Widow of the Web tells you the Fortress is in one location, you might want to consider waiting for the next day or you might end up riding to an empty lot and have to turn around. A penalty in the form of losing a life or a Glaive will be incurred for such a blunder.
Another added element, also time based, is getting to the Widow's cocoon located at the top of the spider's web. Not only must you contend with the rapidly moving web that pushes you away, there is an hourglass located at the top of the screen and if time runs out... Prepare for the spider to attack immediately!
Finally reaching the Fortress to face the Beast is one of the more exciting moments of the game. You must use the Glaive to breakout sections of Lyssa's prison. But you must also navigate the Glaive around the Beast and catch it again when it returns. If the Beast touches it, you must use a spare Glaive or exit the Fortress and start all over again. Once an opening has been created, throwing the Glaive into the prison will release her. When she escapes, she gives you a fireball which you can use to kill the Beast.
Krull is a superb game and the fact that it is a movie license makes it even more so. Perhaps it is because the other movie-to-game translations were so excruciatingly bad that Krull has been overlooked? Either way, Krull is a game you'll want to have in your collection. Trust me.