Return to Dark Castle

Return to Dark Castle

Dark Castle’s infamous henchmen return—and bring friends.


Return to Dark Castle revisits two classic Mac games from 1986 and 1987. Back then, the black-and-white Dark Castle titles introduced sharp graphics and smart gameplay to a young side-view, platform genre. But other than color and more levels, little has been added to Return to Dark Castle. This lovingly crafted game could have come out 20 years ago—we were hoping for more updates and innovation.


As in the originals, gamers run, jump, and toss rocks through dozens of levels. And the controls are as responsive—and the levels as unforgiving—as ever. We died dozens of times trying to make it through certain rooms, finally mastering each step to survive. Despite the challenge, Return to Dark Castle’s levels usually seem fair, where we felt responsible for winning or losing. That balance shows how well the game’s almost-unchanged controls have held up.


Other aspects of the game haven’t aged as well. The sound effects seem lifted straight from the first games; the fidelity is great, but we wanted more additions. At least the musical score matches the pacing of different levels. The graphics resemble a colorized version of the originals. We like that approach, but the 640-by-480-pixel resolution looks slightly blurry in full-screen view and wastes the sides of wider displays.


Return to Dark Castle’s new levels are the game’s biggest draw. All of the original (and still clever) 30 rooms are included, and the 50 new ones are mostly terrific. A range of settings, including caves, towers, swamps, and dungeons, gives you a lot to explore. But too much of the new rooms lies hidden as bonus content behind concealed walls or secret tunnels. We were frustrated by initially winning the game while only having seen half of what it has to offer. We wanted a tour through the new content, not a scavenger hunt for it. We finished the game feeling like we weren’t being let in on a series if inside jokes. Beat the game on the Beginner setting—which is actually pretty hard—and the dreaded Black Knight laughs at you, abruptly starting you over on Intermediate.


The bottom line. Return to Dark Castle could have been an homage and update to the originals, but instead, it’s a straight-up remake. Dark Castle fans will love its intense difficulty, but Return is little more than a rerun.


COMPANY: Super Happy Fun Fun


PRICE: $29.95

REQUIREMENTS: 500MHz G3 or faster, Mac OS 10.3.9 or later, 128MB RAM

Feels just like Dark Castle. Fifty new levels match the original style. Includes all 30 original levels. Color graphics and animated backgrounds look strong. Low system requirements.

Too much of the new content is hidden. Full-screen mode loses sharpness and wastes widescreen edges. While continues are unlimited, you begin with only three easily lost lives. Promised level editor still not here.




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Jamie Kahn Genet

Sadly RtDC causes a CoreServicesUIAgent crash every time it's run and the app just bounces endlessly afterwards till I force quit it. This is on a 24" Intel iMac running 10.5.3.

RtDC was years in development, but clearly little testing occurred. What config did Mac|Life get it to run on? I'm now asking for a refund as SHF tech support has been unable to help in over a month of asking for help :-(

What a letdown! :-(



"The bottom line. Return to Dark Castle could have been an homage and update to the originals, but instead, it’s a straight-up remake. Dark Castle fans will love its intense difficulty, but Return is little more than a rerun."

Return to Dark Castle offers many new gameplay changes from the originals.
-Potions can now be stored and used at any time. In the originals, it used it when you picked it up.
-There are now 6 weapons (five of them new) and they can be used and then put away and taken around with you, to pull out and use at any time. You could not do this in the originals.
-There is a new weapon to obtain that was not in the originals.
-There are now 4 pieces of armor to obtain that provide special strength. These were not in the originals either.
-There are over 50 NEW levels!! yes, many of them hidden. The original games each had 15 levels.

The bottom line. Return to Dark Castle IS an update to originals.

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