Spellbound


by David Jones, Rob Hubbard, Ray Owen
Mastertronic Added Dimension
1985
Crash Issue 24, Christmas Special 1985/86   (1985-12-12)   page(s) 26,27

As a continuation of his adventures in Finders Keepers, Magic Knight now reappears in a new Mastertronic release, Spellbound. Part of the new Mad Games range, Spellbound is a true graphic adventure.

Magic Knight's mentor and teacher, Gimbal the Wizard, has accidentally managed to bind you and seven other characters within a summon spell. The spell was intended to be an aid to Gimbal's quest for better tasting rice pudding. Due to a slight typographical error that arose when the incantations were translated from ancient English to slightly less ancient English, things went a little bit wrong. Now our hero is trapped within a strange and unfamiliar land with a bunch of people from different slices of history. Being the brave good guy among the collection of oddities it's down to Magic Knight to return the various peoples to their respective time/space zones. First on your list of major things to do is to release Gimbal from a self inflicted white out spell but, as in any good adventure, there's a number of smaller tasks to perform first.

Though Spellbound looks very similar to any run of the mill left/right and jump game, pressing fire soon shatters that illusion. Based around a windowing system by the name of Windowvision, fire opens up the primary menu replete with a list of options available to Magic Knight. A pointer controlled by the up and down keys highlights various options as you move it about, and fire takes you to the sub menu for that option. For each option on the menu there's a corresponding button on the keyboard - thus avoiding any hassle for people who're a bit kack-handed when it comes to using the pointer.

When you change to a sub window it opens up over the main one and a pointer appears on the sub directory. Using this system, the amount of options available to you easy equals those within many text adventures. As you progress through the game the options and actions open to you change, allowing Magic Knight to take advantage of any new objects or powers he may have acquired - extra options are highlighted in white.

Apart from using the menu system, you can move Magic Knight around the screens with left, right and jump. Obviously Magic Knight has developed some pretty impressive leg muscles since his last game: jump causes him to take a real mega leap skywards.

Any object or character you may come across can be examined via the main menu. While a character is being examined, a small screen with a graphic of the character under scrutiny appears. Such details as strength, happiness, stamina, spell power and food level are detailed. You can even examine yourself; very handy, since being a brave knight expends strength quite a bit and if it reaches zero the games over. When it comes to examining object, a graphic of the object under scrutiny is displayed together with details on the four different attributes possessed by objects: weight, magic power, read and drop status. The read and drop information tell whether you can drop the object you've acquired or use the read function on it to glean information. The weight reading can be critical as well. The more the the knight carries, the quicker his strength is sapped. If Magic Knight is too weak then he won't be able to pick up heavy objects.

There's a large strategic element to the game. The other captives of the summon spell wander about in a bit of a daze and need looking after. You need to command characters to do things for their own good, and you have to get hold of the wand of command before the option which allows you to tell people what to do appears on your menu. Since the characters don't have the sense to fend for themselves, it's up to you to tell them to go away, eat, drink, and be happy.

If your fellow captives aren't kept in good health they may well die.... The characters also have to be kept happy or it's likely they get in a bit of a sulk and be loathe to obey any commands that may be issued to them. Other people may well be in possession of objects you need but understandably they like to keep hold of any thing they've got. Command a character to go to sleep and anything they have can be easily pilfered. When a character is asleep it's also possible to give them something they wouldn't normally accept.

The domain in which the spell of summoning has trapped the cast of characters is split into seven floors, each spanning around seven or eight screens. To travel between floors the Knight has to use the lift found at the extreme left hand side of each floor.

Some objects can be found which can't actually be used - they do offer clues, however, and the clue they contain can usually be liberated with the read function. A few totally useless, though amusing, objects litter the place as well. Upon starting, Magic Knight's only possession is an advert: read this and you're informed that David Jones created Spellbound and suggests going out and buying Finders Keepers. Another addition to the Knight's worries is that there's only 48 hours to complete his task. Oh dear. Better get going...

COMMENTS
Control keys: A/Z up, down N/M left, right and space for fire
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: a bit of attribute clash, but hardly noticeable. Very good
Graphics: Big, bold and detailed
Sound: Not a lot but what it does do is good
Skill levels: 1
Screens: 50


'I'm always a bit cynical of software houses' claims to produce true graphical adventures but it seems that Mastertronic have actually come up with the goods. Finders Keepers was excellent but Spellbound is superlative. Windowvision is about the best selection method for using and interacting with objects and characters I've seen yet. It blows away both Frankie and Shadowfire making them both seem awkward and outdated. Graphically, the game is well above average: the movement of Magic Knight as he athletically leaps about is great. Convincing gravity too. Overall, about the best game of it's type on the Spectrum to date. Even if it were priced around the ten pound mark I'd still recommend it as a bargain but for £2.99 you'd be MAD not to buy it!'

'Finders Keepers was Mastertronic's best game until now. David Jones has improved on the features in Finders Keepers and has come up with a first rate game. The graphics are generally good, but not some of the best around. What makes this game is the presentation. It's very easy to play without actually reading the instructions and subsequently it doesn't take long before you are addicted. The menus that appear make the game easy to understand and they cut out the need for mega quick reactions which other arcade adventures depend on. If you've got £2.99 to spare then get this, you won't regret it!'

'My blue knight materialised: 'What now?' I cried! But then as I started bouncing all over the millions of screens, I was really getting into the feel of it; when I pulled myself away from it, I could easily say I was well and truly hooked. Fab sound and mega-brill windowing with the odd bit of great graphics gave me the feeling that this was going to be a smash! And when they told me that it was only £2.99 I really freaked out! Next time you find yourself with three quid, this is something you must get.'

Use of Computer: 96%
Graphics: 89%
Playability: 91%
Getting Started: 92%
Addictive Qualities: 89%
Value For Money: 98%
Overall: 95%

Summary: General Rating: An outstanding game, especially for the money.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 02, February 1986   page(s) 27

Finders Keepers was the game that proved that budget need not mean cheap and nasty. While it lacked state of the art graphics it was playable way beyond its £1.99 price tag. Now here's David Jones again, with our old friend Magic Knight, and a far better looking game, but at a higher price. A whole pound more! Questions will be asked in the House because, despite the 50 per cent price increase..., this is probably even better value!

Now we are talking larger sprites, though with no loss charm; more detailed settings, with less of the platforms element, and a far more complex game but one that is wonderfully playable.

At the heart of Spellbound are the nested menus, summoned by Fire. Using them you can pick up, drop, examine, read, interact with characters, throw things.... in fact there seems to be an option for virtually every situation! Just as in a traditional adventure you spend a lot of time searching for objects. You'll always need to check what you're carrying because many things contain clues. The speed of the menu system makes this almost effortless. And it won't take long to discover that some objects, however fishy they may seem, can be very helpful!

But to the plot. As Magic Knight, you have to enter the castle of that mad, bad mage, Gimbal who has got his necromancy in a twist once again. And as well as trapping himself in a soul bleaching spell, he's taken seven other highly individual characters with him. You must free them as well as the incompetent illusionist before time runs out. This is all presented with a wonderful selection of logical puzzles and humorous touches and even the odd bit of arcade action thrown in for good measure.

It doesn't take the Crystal Ball I found in the lift to predict that this will be at least as big a success as Jones the Programmer's previous chart topper. But the really crucial puzzle I still can't solve is.... how do they do it at the price?


Graphics: 7/10
Playability: 9/10
Value For Money: 10/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 10, October 1986   page(s) 30

Gimbal rings, if memory serves, are the little metal hoops that you can find around your toy gyroscope, performing a function that escapes me. This fact, although having a tenuous link with the game in question, is totally useless. Spellbound 128, on the other paw, is not useless, in fact it's a very, very good game indeed.

Having wowed people on the 48K Spectrum, Magic Knight is now to be found strutting his flunky stuff in a much expanded and improved version of the Big Spec. The game, for those of you who missed it, is an arcade adventure, which follows the adventures of Magic Knight through the use of Windows, Icons, Joystick and Pointers. WIMP without the mouse, really. (Sort of MINJ, I guess!)

The Wizard Gimbal (geddit?) has been imprisoned in time by one of his own spells, and has sent a message back asking Magic Knight to rescue him. He does this by manipulating objects and casting spells, with the help of the various others of his mates that got sucked down the time-hole with Gimbal.

For those of you who enjoyed the game before or even if you never saw it on 48K, there are a few things about this new version which knock its illustrious predecessor into a tricorn hat.

Firstly the sprites are better, having their own colours and being more distinct. There's more text and more clues and even more rooms to explore. You can redefine the keys to your own fancy. It is, as they say, a distinctly more substantial game altogether, sorcery fans!

So, the upshot of all this is that Spellbound is now, if it wasn't before, a blippin' brilliant game, deserving a place in every big Speccer's collection, forthwith. Or even fifthwith.


Graphics: 9/10
Playability: 9/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 46, January 1986   page(s) 119

MAGIC is in the air as the hero of Finders Keepers reappears to help his tutor Gimbal the wizard.

The old grump has been using spells to spice up his rice but, because of an error in translation, a spiel goes wrong. Gimbal is whisked off to the Castle of Karn, dragging seven other reluctants with him. Before his power is lost he manages to send a message to you, the Magic Knight, and you are off on another mission of mercy.

The knight is moved around the castle with joystick or keyboard in a similar way to the hero in Ultimate's Underwurlde. A series of easy to use command windows can be accessed to pick up or examine objects and order other characters around. The menus are easy to use and beat the old method of typing commands, word for word, onto the keyboard.

If you are using a joystick you can slide a pointing finger icon up and down the list of options and press the fire button to select. The game movement keys will do the same job if you don't have a joystick.

Movement between the five floors, basement and roof of the castle is achieved by teleport pad or lift. The teleport can be placed anywhere and, as long as you have the key, you can zap back to the pad at any time.

The lift should call at all floors, including an exotic roof garden with weirdly shaped trees and big colourful blooms. Unfortunately, rather like Dr Who's police box, it malfunctions at the start of the game and will not go to the basement or ground floor. You have to solve a riddle to get it working again.

Many of the objects you pick up contain helpful riddles. Most solutions are found by matching objects with other characters.

The characters within the castle are not particularly intelligent but you must keep them happy and fed. If you help them they will help you.

Spellbound is the first in a series of graphic adventures from Mastertronic, and if the rest are as good as this one the company will set new standards for quality and value. The game blows many an expensive package out of the window and some big name software houses had better watch their backs.

John Gilbert

Publisher: Mastertronic
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair

*****


Overall: 5/5

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 51, January 1986   page(s) 17

MACHINE: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Mastertronic
PRICE: £2.99

Will you please welcome back the amazing Magic Knight in his latest smash adventure Spellbound!

The main character of this first in a new mid-price range of games from Mastertronic is called Magic - and the game will cast its spell over you too.

Old Magic Knight first appeared in Finder's Keepers. Now his creator David Jones has set Magic a new task.

Gimbal the Wizard has been trying out some very old spells to make his rice pudding taste nicer.

Unfortunately the scribes who translated the spell from ancient English made some tiny errors - and when Gimbal tried to make his rice pudding nicer he was blasted through time to the Castle of Karn.

Seven other unfortunate characters were sucked into the castle with Gimbal - including Florin the Dwarf and Thor who wishes he had a hammer.

Magic Knight gets the call to help his old friend and zaps off to the mysterious castle to save Gimbal and the seven other characters. The main feature of the game is a novel technique which David calls Windimation. What that means is that windows or panels full of options can be called up on the screen, overlaying the main graphics area and each other.

These windows are full of adventure-style menu options - like examine, read, pick up, drop, cast spell, etc - which you select using the keyboard or joystick. The Magic Knight then does what you tell him. You also move Magic about the castle using the controls as in more conventional arcade adventures.

Each of the seven characters has his or her own personality. And Magic must take care of them - keep them fed and happy. If he doesn't, the game will soon be over. You can examine the characters to check out their status - and maybe discover if there's something they really want. Like Thor and his hammer. If you help them, the characters will help you.

The game is not over when the wizard is free. Then you have to help the seven other unfortunates get back to their own parts of the world.

The graphics are neat, the sound good and game play is quite simply magic! You'll soon get the hang of using the Windimation menu system.

Arcade games players and adventurers will enjoy Spellbound. It's tremendous value at just £2.99 and deserves to be a smash.


Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 8/10
Value: 10/10
Playability: 10/10

Award: C+VG Blitz Game

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue April 1986   page(s) 47

Amstrad &
Mastertronic
Arcade Adventure
£2.99

Latest in the Mastertronics new MAD range, this is a stylish implementation of the good old arcade adventure genre.

As soon as you hit the fire button, you are presented with a menu giving you various options. Along with old favourites such as pick-up, drop, examine and read, are such bizarre options as Teleport and take lift. This dungeon into which your knight is trapped is certainly keeping up with the latest trends in technology. The whole thing is menu-driven and information appears in windows all over the place. Well-presented, it seems certain to be another big hit for Mastertronics.


Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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