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The player controls Jack the Jester, who is on a quest to bring back all nine of the magical lamps in the kingdom which had been protecting it from harm. Jack must explore the castle environs for eight of these, which are placed randomly each playthrough, while avoiding or eliminating the various respawning monsters. Jack moves slowly, so the player must be wary of where they're going and which platform they're jumping to.

The ninth lamp - the titular Black Lamp - is protected by a dragon that Jack must eventually defeat. Doing so, and ensuring all the lamps are safely ensconced in a special display, wins the game.

Jack can collect items lying around or left behind after defeating monsters. Food items restore health, sword items increase attack strength, magical instruments eliminate fall damage briefly and jewels provides a short burst of invincibility. The three latter items need to be collected in groups of five before they become effective.

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