Wizball


by Sensible Software: Paul Owens, Mark R. Jones, Peter Clarke
Ocean Software Ltd
1987
Crash Issue 45, October 1987   (1987-09-24)   page(s) 22,23

If you were a wizened Wizard with a magical cat on a planet filled with colourful landscapes you'd be jolly fed up if someone tried to turn it into monochrome, wouldn't you? Of course you would. It's like suddenly being told your Amiga has attribute clash.

And that's exactly how Wiz feels when Zark and his unpleasant horde of helpers bleach his colourful Wizworld.

So, with a spherical Wizball space transporter to help him, Wiz begins to eliminate the invading colour-blind hordes. When the game begins, the transporter can spin to the left or right and bounce through the now drab Wizworld. As Wiz progresses, he encounters lethal aliens: waves of crabs, diamonds and multiarmed spindles, all threatening poor Wiz's three lives. These creatures can be destroyed, for points, by the transporter. Many of them reveal green, smiling pearl faces when killed; by touching these faces Wiz collects extra capabilities, including supa-beams and blazers, protective sprays, smart bombs, shields, and a thruster and anti-grav powers to give him more control of the bouncing transporter.

But probably the most important thing for our crumbly warlock is Catelite, the magical feline.

Wizworld is composed of three colours: red, green and blue. To restore the brightness that Zark and his mob have drained away, Wiz must burst floating colour bubbles. As droplets from them fall earthward, Catelite can gather them up.

As he does so, each droplet is placed in one of three empty cauldrons - one cauldron for each colour in the magic land. When a cauldron is full, one colour of Wizworld comes back to life; Wiz and Catelite can then concentrate on gathering the remaining colours.

Completing a colour also allows Wiz to visit his Wiz-Lab and gather yet more unbelievable powers.

When all three colours have been collected, Wizworld is restored to its old glory, and Wiz and his cat can go home to toast the defeat of Zark with the wizard's favourite drink - a well-earned glass of bat's bowel and hemlock fizz. Yum.

COMMENTS
Joystick: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: weird, wonderful and well-defined despite some attribute clash
Sound: some pleasant ditties


'Wizball is one of the most playable games I've ever seen, despite some trivial bugs. The controls are perfect, though they're incredibly difficult to get to grips with (the instructions are less than clear, too)! The smooth-moving graphics are strikingly original, and the colour clash doesn't affect them too much. This is one hell of a game, so go geddit.'
BEN ... 92%

'Wizball's graphics are fantastic and well-defined, and the higher levels reveal more and more delights - including wild assortments of aliens. And the bouncing Wizball looks like a cross between a Critter and Bobby Bearing! There are some decent spot FX, and a good 128 tune. Though the controls are difficult at first, it gets more playable and rewarding as you progress - an ace game.'
NICK ... 90%

'Wizball is a classic. The graphics are brilliant, despite some colour clash, and sound is excellent on the 128s (but a bit limited on the 48s). At first the bouncing is difficult to control - but once it's mastered and you've picked up a few of the right icons, Wizball becomes one of the best shoot-'em-ups I've played for ages. It's so polished it shines!'
MIKE ... 93%

Presentation: 87%
Graphics: 88%
Playability: 93%
Addictive Qualities: 92%
Overall: 92%

Summary: General Rating: A few control problems hardly detract from entertaining and playable game.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 23, November 1987   page(s) 44

We've had games about wizards and we've had games about balls before so now let's have a game about a wizard with only one ball. The other was in the Albert Hall.

Sorry, old habits die hard. It reminds me of scrubbing up with the rugby team (well. where else do you think I met Gwyn?). Anyhow, this is a hybrid of genius bouncerius and genius shoot 'em upius, sub-species additional weaponius. Which means lots to kill and bonuses to be gained but nasty controls to master.

It seems that the wizard Wiz, is trying to save his home planet, Wizworld (obviously he loves its novel name). The menace is Zark who is robbing the world of its colours... which sounds the best excuse for the Spectrum's dodgy attributes I've heard in a long while.

According to the inlay, Zark has an army of horrible sprites, though they looked pretty good to me as I blasted away. Far better than the Wizard's Wizball, in fact, which resembles nothing more than a nauseous smiley badge.

The only way to save the planet is to shoot red, green and blue colour bubbles and release droplets of pigment, which you can catch with your pussy (you knew wizards had cats, didn't you). Wiz's is a catelite, a sort of feline satellite which resembles a junior wizball rather than the furry little thing you'd all love to stroke.

You collect colours from three levels at a time, moving between them by a series of tunnels. The drops top up your paint pots until you've collected enough to redecorate the landscape, after which everything reverts to its technicoloured hues and you can proceed to a bonus screen where Wiz can earn a Wiz-perk in the Wiz-lab (such staggering imagination!).

The problem is that you don't start off with a catelite. In fact you don't start off with anything more than a weapon and an irritating habit of bouncing whichever way you're spinning. Somehow you have to shoot an alien or two to produce a green pearl to collect it.

You've heard of pearls of wisdom, right? Well, these are pearls of purchase and they let you stock up on useful attributes such as steering power, extra shooting power, smart bombs, and yes, of course, your catelite. Once you start to get equipped the game becomes much easier.

My major complaint is that at the start it's infernally difficult. Quite often you don't stand a chance and lose a life almost immediately as you're unable to negotiate a floating alien. You could also drop down a tunnel, which results in a hostile reception requiring all your manoeuvring skills.

Wizball's an odd game, which can be extremely addictive if you're willing to carry on regardless of all the unfair early deaths. But if you're not quite so obsessive, you may just whizz off for Something else!


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

Summary: A novel game with cheerful graphics and clever gameplay but hard to get into.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 67, October 1987   page(s) 52,53

If you're looking for a cracking arcade style game with more inventive ideas than just about everything else around at the moment put together, Ocean's Wizball could be the business.

How to describe it? It's a complex left-right bouncing thing - with interlinking tunnels. It's as infuriating as any Ultimate game ever was - to start with you haven't a clue what's going on.

So what's it all about? The world you find yourself dropped into has been drained of all its colour by the evil Zark. To trash the monochrome madman you've got to collect up drops of paint you find scattered around the surreal environment to fill up your paint pots.

I'm sure you won't be too surprised to learn this is a whole lot more tricky than it sounds... Your Wiz object, looking remarkably like a curious giant pea. starts off bouncing and rolling along and is extraordinarily difficult to control.

In action on the planet's surface you come up against numerous infuriating obstacles resembling stalagmites and stalagtites. While the obstacles themselves are quite inoffensive, Wiz's movement in the early stages (bouncing high in the air and ricocheting off everything in sight) makes it horribly infuriating.

You quickly discover what you really need is a more precise way to control Wiz. Just as well then there's a strip of icons all the way down the right-hand side of the screen, each enabling you to control Wiz in a more precise manner. Lawks. Now there's a stroke of good fortune.

There are seven options in all, though some can be activated twice in order to enhance their initial enhancement, if you see what I mean.

Obviously, you're not going to be allowed to simply skip through the icons at will. In order to highlight one, you need to wipe out an alien which will change into a green circle. By flying Wiz into the circle, the icon box will turn blue, indicating that it can be selected should you choose to do so. Then, to select the icon, you've got to waggle the joystick furiously left and right for a second.

All this could be rather overwhelming and, in a moment of uncharacteristic generosity, the programmers have given you an assistant - called Catelite. By working your way to the third icon and hitting Fire, a Cat (disguised as a small pea) will be summoned up. You could be forgiven for thinking that a cat wouldn't be of great help in a game like this. You'd be totally wrong. Cat is completely invaluable. He'll follow you around and gallantly throw himself (on your command) into the aliens.

OK, so you've flown around and shot some things and got quite handily tooled up, thank you. So how do you go about getting the colour back into Wizworld? Easy, some of the sprites, when shot will change into drops of colour which can be picked up by Cat. As you zoom around, picking up the correct colour (indicated by a cauldron on the bottom of the screen) the little pots (check out the screens here) will gradually fill up.

As for gadding about, there's some mapping needed, if you're that way inclined.

There are tubes in the surface of the Wizworld lunescape which lead to other levels. The deeper the level, the more ferocious the aliens. Since it's possible to return to an early level from a tougher one, you can build up the colour pots as you go, without having to complete one level in one go. This means, first, it's very playable and, second, it's quite a challenge.

Though simple to look at, everything moves smoothly and the scrolling is flawless. Should you be fortunate enough to become totally equipped with all the icons, you can wreak immense havoc on the aliens.

Wizball is virtually flawless. It's addictive qualities, combined with super-smooth graphics and highly original gameplay make it one of the very best games to appear this year. A classic.

Label: Ocean
Author: In-house
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas


Overall: 10/10

Summary: Strangely wonderful arcade blast. Frenetic stick-waggling of the highest quality. Splendid graphics too.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 1, October 1987   page(s) 50,51

PSYCHEDELIC WIZARDRY

Spectrum and Amstrad owners can now sample some of the delights experienced for three months by Commodore 64 owners... Sensible Software's bizarre horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up Wizball has finally been converted to the Z80 machines and is available from Ocean. Taking control of the Wiz and his cat in their protective spherical shells, the objective is to collect the colour stolen by Zark and put it back into the Wiz-worlds eight monochrome levels.

Sadly, both new versions lack a lot of the humour and playability of the original - including the bonus stage and the ability to 'hide' in the landscape. The Amstrad version's scenery doesn't scroll - the screen flicks irritatingly from one part of the landscape to the next - and it isn't overly playable. Amstrad owners who have seen the Commodore original are likely to be disappointed, whether they spend £8.85 (cassette) or £14.95 (disk). On the other hand, the Spectrum version provides sufficient action for £7.95 on cassette incidentally look out for an Amiga version early next year.


Overall: 80%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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