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?
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.
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.
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