Cauldron II: The Pumpkin Strikes Back

by Richard Joseph, Richard Leinfellner, Steve Brown
Palace Software
Crash Issue 31, Aug 1986   page(s) 112,113

Producer: Palace
Retail Price: £8.99
Author: Steve Brown, Richard Leinfellner, Richard Joseph

At the end of Cauldron, the wicked witch defeats the Pumpking and wins the Golden Broomstick. Flushed with victory (and a stack of newly acquired magical power) the witch takes up residence in the Pumpking's castle and moves her sidekicks in for company. All the fighting with the Pumpking has tired old witchy out, and now she spends most of her time tucked up in bed dreaming of world domination.

Little does she know, one of the Pumpking's minions survived her veggie clean-up campaign. Under cover of darkness this determined delicacy makes its way stealthily towards the castle with one objective in mind: to take the golden broomstick and claim the Castle in the name of all things round and yellow.

Although the wicked witch stays between the sheets, she has animated various objects within the castle to keep out undesirables. Floating mines, trolls with hammers and roasted pig heads which waggle their ears in anticipation and then pounce on intruders are amongst the army of horrors that awaits the little yellow fellow. Contact with anything that moves saps Pumpkin's strength, and when the magic meter in the status screen reaches zero he bursts!

At the start of the game, the hero is unarmed - bouncing into a pool of sparkling magic replenishes the magic meter and allows nasty-zapping to begin. Unfortunately, the canny hell-hag has granted her minions the power of immortality, and after they've been blasted with a bolt of magic they re-appear a couple of seconds later. Some guardians, like the patrolling skeletons and fluttering bats, cannot be killed with a magic blast - the galivanting gourd can only get past them when a certain object is in the inventory. Gargoyles on the edge of the building harbour great magical secrets... misjudging a leap onto a gargoyle's plinth sends the little hero falling into oblivion with the witch's laughter ringing out loud.

Before the witch can be usurped, five objects must be collected and used at appropriate points in the game. The objects that Pumpkin Junior is carrying are displayed at the top of the screen along with the number of lives remaining. Points are added to the scoremeter each time a magical minion is zapped. Although the horrible warty hag is catching up on her beauty sleep, her evil spirit haunts the cobwebbed castle. When the veritable vegetable turns into pumpkin pulp she cackles hideously from her vantage point in the status area.

The smiling swede has obviously been doing some serious training for this mission, as he's an agile little fellow, full of bounce. Pressing fire increases the level of sproing - there are three bounce strengths. The pumpkinette roams around the spacious castle by bouncing along, and up and over the obstacles in his path. Careful timing is needed, for movement is effected by pressing left or right as the vegetable hits the ground. Fire and a direction pressed together while the full-fibre hero is in the air shoots a bolt of magic off in the appropriate direction.

Considering the dangerous nature of his mission, Pumpkin seems unreasonably happy about everything, with his crooked little smile and the glint in his triangular eyes. When all lives are lost, the game can be restarted - but the pumpkin sets out from one of eight randomly selected start locations, so getting to know the castle's geography is vital.

It is up to you to guide the Pumpkin rebel through the castle chambers, collecting and using items so the hag is destroyed and Veggie Power restored. Can you help the Pumpkin Strike Back?


Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: very attractive
Graphics: clever animation, minimal attribute clash
Sound: very neat intro tune and spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: 128

At last us Spectrum owners get a chance at Cauldron II - and what a good game it is. The graphics are superbly drawn and beautifully animated. The Palace team has managed to get a brilliant combination of lots of colour and limited attribute clash. The way the pumpkin moves around is superbly realistic. The tune on the title screen is excellent and well matched by the creative sound effects within the game. There are some very nice touches - like the way control is reversed when you hit a hand.Although the game is brilliant I think a lot of people will find it a bit hard to get used to, and a fair bit of effort is needed before you become a competent pumpkin controller.

The best thing about this game for me is the sense of reward you get when a task is completed, as the game is hard enough not to be a walk over but easy enough to keep you playing. The graphics are not as good as they might have been, but they are by no means bad or sloppy: there are lots of characters that move around nicely and the backgrounds are very well detailed. Sound-wise, things are pretty good - there are some great spot effects during the game and a smashing tune on the title screen. Cauldron II needs practice to get into but once you've made the effort, I'm sure you'll find it rewarding.

Great! A brilliant arcade adventure which doesn't rely on the now rather worn and weary filmation style techniques. The game offers a lot more than its prequel and has one of the most novel control methods I've seen - bounce-ability, that's the beauty of Cauldron II. The graphics are excellent with great backdrops and some of the best animated nasties I've seen in a long while. As for the game, well, it's by no means easy, but I feel that it merits a lot of perseverence and is one which you'll feel inclined to play and play. A very playable and addictive game that's well worth the money.

Use of Computer: 90%
Graphics: 91%
Playability: 93%
Getting Started: 86%
Addictive Qualities: 92%
Value for Money: 89%
Overall: 91%

Summary: General Rating: An addictive sequel to an addictive game.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 61, Feb 1989   page(s) 40


What? Spent all your Christmas money already? Well, never fear, the golden oldie himself, PHIL KING, takes you on a tour of the latest budget-price rereleases...

Cauldron II
Producer: Silverbird
Price: £1.99
Original Rating: 91%

In the original Cauldron, the player controlled a witch fighting the evil Pumpking. In the sequel, you control a pumpkin battling against the evil witch!

The pumpkin's objective is a magic broomstick hidden in a castle populated by objects magically animated by the witch to stop intruders. Five objects must also be collected and used at the right places in the game to make progress.

As in the prequel, graphics are very colourful and well-animated without too much clash. Progress is again very difficult, but excellent presentation inspires you to keep playing, 128 screens if colourful, playable action seems very good value for the budget price.

Overall: 87%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 9, Sep 1986   page(s) 35

Palace Software

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble... well, they never said game reviewing would be easy! Hah-ha, The Pumpkin Strikes Back. You loved him Cauldron; now see him get his own back in the mega thrill powered sequel.

The gist of what he's after is this - he must neutralise the Wicked Witch Queen by nicking a lock of her hair and, whilst holding he Book Of Spells, drop it into the steaming cauldron deep in the dungeons. To you this may sound like a snip, but to a bouncing pumpkin it ain't that easy.

To assist you on your quest there are six magic objects to collect - the Goblet, Axe, Shield, Crown, Scissors and of course the Book of Spells. You can axe your doors down (just get yer axe together man, tee hee), shield yourself from walking skeletons, crown the Witch's killer magic, and finally snip a lock of hair with the scissors.

The graphics, especially the pumpkin himself, are lovely. You get so wound up in his efforts to bounce higher you find yourself bouncing in your seat trying to make him go just that millimetre higher. (So that's what you were doing! Ed.) The Gargoyles on the side of the castle are brilliant. I won't spoil the fun of it for you by telling you what happens, just go up there and see.

This is truly a delightful game, with an original slant on the traditional platformery, and although the sound and the other characters were good, I must admit it was the bouncing pumpkin that really got to me in the end. It's a well programmed nicely presented , value for money and very, very addictive game. If it doesn't rate very highly in the charts very soon, I'll turn into a pumpkin myself!

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

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 53, Aug 1986   page(s) 32

Label: Palace
Author: Richard Leinfellber, Steve Brown
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Clare Edgeley

Pumpkins are well out of season, yet Palace software keeps dragging them back. Although an odd vegetable to act as a hero, the pumpkin is rather cute as it wreaks havoc on the evil witch's castle.

We're talking about the sequel to Cauldron, based on the revengeful exploits of the world's last surviving pumpkin. Your mission: destroy the witch's power. Cauldron II - The Pumpkin Strikes Back is a platform game but the delightful graphics, more than make up for this minus. Play begins in a castle - bulut like Palace's logo - a hint which should help you if you want to map it out, at one of six randomly selected starting points.

Boing! Splat! Almost immediately the pumpkin bounces on to a skeleton. Instant death and one of six lives is lost.

The problem is learning to control the bounce and judging the height you should travel to reach ledges and avoid creeping hands, chopping scissors, spiders, mice and hosts of other deadly creatures. Hold the fire button down longer and the pumpkin will bounce higher and you have to time your jumps and be in exactly the right position to get anywhere. It takes some while getting used to.

The movement of the pumpkin is great. For one thing it wears a permanent silly grin and each time it hits the ground it seems to squash under the impact. If you listen carefully you can hear a faint splat! splat! issuing from the depths of your Spectrum.

Magic lies all around and if you can catch a bit - it sparkles - you'll be able to shoot the nasties. When retrieving magic and objects from the gargoyles take care not to land on their spiky backs though or you'll burst. Yuk. Pumpkin everywhere.

If you get it wrong the slab which holds the object tilts sending you hurtling down and down and down... And its a heck of a long climb back.

Cauldron II may be a bit Wallyish - certainly in its graphic style - but it has all the ingredients of a successful follow-up.

Notice: Array to string conversion in /_speccy_data/games/zxsr/zxsr.php on line 19 Blurb: Array

Overall: 5/5

Summary: If you liked Cauldron I you'll love it. The sequel is a significant advance and very difficult.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 60, Oct 1986   page(s) 41

MACHINE: Spectrum/Amstrad
SUPPLIER: Palace Software
PRICE: £8.99

Cauldron II - The Pumpkin Strikes Back was C+VG's Game of the Month in June when it came out on the Commodore 64. And in converting it to the Spectrum and Amstrad, Palace Software has successfully captured all the quality and addictive play of the original.

Only the sound has really suffered - but that's the fault of the machines.

In the first Cauldron game you played the part of the witch trying to rid her world of pumpkins. This time things are reversed. The sole surviving Pumpkin is out for revenge on the witch.

To do this the pumpkin must collect a lock of the witch's hair and drop it in her cauldron.

The game is set in a huge castle, covering a vast number of levels packed with puzzles, traps, spiders, skeletons and a vast variety of other creatures.

If you decide to buy the game then hunt out a copy of the C+VG August issue and turn to the special poster sized map of the game. We don't guarantee the Spectrum and Amstrad versions will be exactly the same, but it will give you some idea of what you're up against.

Cauldron II is a delightful game. At the end of the Commodore review we said "Don't delay, buy it today." We see no reason to change our opinion

Notice: Array to string conversion in /_speccy_data/games/zxsr/zxsr.php on line 19 Blurb: Array

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 7/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 10/10

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 28, Aug 1986   page(s) 18


Palace Software

The Pumpkin Strikes Back! If you played the original Cauldron game you'll remember that it was the witch's task to destroy the Evil Pumpkin in order to become Queen of the Witches.

But now, in Cauldron 2, the tables are about to be turned as the last of the pumpkins enters the witch's castle in an attempt to cut off a lock of her hair and drop it into the cauldron hidden in the depths of the dungeon.

But before you can cut off the witch's hair you'll need to find the scissors which are hidden somewhere in the castle, as well as collecting a number of other objects that will be needed if you're to find your way safely through the dangers of the castle.

Each game starts in one of six possible locations within the castle and you have to guide the little pumpkin through the corridors, stairways and halls in search of the objects and the room where the witch lies sleeping. The 127 rooms are laid out in the shape of a castle with different floors and turrets jutting out here and there so finding your way up or down properly adds an extra level of difficulty to the game since some rooms are easy to get through if you're on your way down from the top of the castle but impossible to get through if you're frying to go up from the lower levels.

Pumpkins don't have legs (in fact they don't have much except heads and a big grin) so the only way to get around is by bouncing. This where most of the fun lies, as controlling the pumpkin's bouncing is an art in itself. There are three different heights of bounce that can be used in conjunction with the usual left/right controls, but unlike most platform games where you just jump and stop, the pumpkin continues to bounce all the time, and if you misjudge a single bounce you can end up shooting out of control and ricocheting from platform to platform. If something like this happens in the wrong place you can find yourself hurtling out of a window at the top of the castle, only to fall into the grounds beyond the moat at ground level.

In addition to the problems of bouncing your way around all the rooms, there are all the monsters wandering around to deal with as well. One or two monsters are deadly upon contact, but most of them just drain your energy level - which is recorded as a percentage level at the top of the screen, along with a record of all the objects that you've managed to find - and when this falls to 0% you lose one of your seven pumpkinny lives. Fortunately, there are sources of magic within the castle which allow you to recharge your magic powers and to blast most of the monsters that stand in your way (though at a cost of 1% of your energy each time).

The graphics and animation are excellent throughout and good use has been made of the Spectrum's sound, with nice little sproingy noises accompanying the bouncing action. And just watching the pumpkin bounce around is fun, especially as the squishy little fellow squeezes through some of the tight spots in the rooms.

If you enjoyed Cauldron the first time around, you'll certainly enjoy Cauldron 2. It doesn't really break new ground, being a descendant of the long line of platform games, but it is well designed and puts the emphasis on fun and playability rather than enormously complex icon menus and suchlike. I haven't come anywhere near finishing it, but I'll be going back to Cauldron more than I do with most games these days.

Award: ZX Computing ZX Monster Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB