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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Review - Wizard's Apprentice

Review - Wizard's Apprentice

Posted by Alasdair Bailey on 00:00, 30/10/2000 | , ,

Wizard's Apprentice is the first game from a new group called Fantasia who are based in Greece and distribute their games in the UK through The Datafile. The game retails for £30 and can be brought directly from The Datafile or through one of the many Acorn dealers. The game is RiscPC only due it's use of high-resolution graphics and numerous animations. It's also distributed on CD-ROM so unless you have about 300Mb hard disc space to spare, you'll need at least a 4-speed CD drive to be able to enjoy this game because it really was unplayable on my old 2-speed model but is fine on my new 24-speed drive!.


[Screenshot!]The first thing that struck me about WizApp was the quality of the intro sequence, there are some nice animations as the game's title is bought onto the screen and then a textual explanation of the plot is accompanied by some very good artwork. As with the rest of the game, the intro is accompanied by very nice, relaxing music and sound effects. Once past the main menu, it's then a matter of choosing which level to play out of the 20 which form the first 'episode'.

Once in the game, you are in control of a wizard who must be guided around the screen to pick up flowers and sometimes mushrooms and other curious objects. This would be a very easy game if it weren't for the puzzle-solving element which is what makes WizApp the brain-teaser it is. Rocks must be pushed around and then used as platforms to walk across to get at the more out of the way flowers.

[Screenshot!]Some puzzle games suffer from the problem that their levels suddenly become very difficult or they remain really easy throughout. It is obvious a lot of thought has gone into the difficulty of the levels in WizApp as there is a nice, natural progression towards more taxing levels. The first levels are very simple indeed but then as you work through, before you know it you'll be sitting there thinking out the moves ahead for each level. This very gentle increase in difficulty is a quality which is lacking in many games but gives great improvements in the quality of the gameplay and in the game's overall feel.
[Screenshot!]The graphics in the game are very well drawn and the game runs in a high-resolution 640 by 512 mode with 256 colours. I would have liked to have seen this game run in a 32,000 colour mode on those RiscPCs with VRAM but this is, unfortunately not the case. However, having said that, the graphics don't suffer too much from being drawn in 256 colours as they have obviously been drawn in a low colour mode and so don't show the effects of dithering which occur when a high colour image is cut down to only 256 colours. The animations in the characters and collectables are very good. The collectables dance and rotate in their own mystical way whilst the Wizard smoothly walks about the screen. However, the wizard's movement is a little slow and this can make things a bit tedious in levels where one is constantly moving back and forth to collect and move objects.

In later levels, another character comes to the aid of the wizard and the player can switch between controlling the wizard and this small, cute blue blobby thing. This added twist breathes new life into the game at the midway point just as it's starting to get a little tedious and difficult. The music changes between each level and the whole graphics set including the background change every 5-6 levels. This adds a little variation to the gameplay, which is, for the most part mostly the same throughout the game. As I've already mentioned, the music is very smooth and refreshing but although it livens up the game, it is still very calming.

[Screenshot!]WizApp also includes a level editor. This is something which I feel should be present in all games but is sadly lacking in many of the current Acorn offerings. Although the user interface of the editor takes a bit of getting used to, the editor is effective and allows all the in game elements to be added to customised level sets. Fantasia have organised 2 level design competitions, one of which had its closing date before Christmas of 1997 but the other does not finish until the summer of 1998. The prize in both of these competitions is a copy of Fantasia's next game, rumoured to be a beat 'em up type offering.

Overall, I'd say that WizApp is well worth buying if you have the CD ROM drive and hardware to cope. My only major criticism of the game is the lack of an 'undo' option to correct those silly mistakes that happen all to often when I play.


To sum up

The good...
  • Nice, relaxing music and lots of it
  • Good graphics and animations
  • Smooth increase in difficulty
  • Level designer
...the bad
  • No undo feature
  • Slow character movement


Rating: GOODRating: COOLRating: GOOD

WWW:Datafile's website
Post:The Datafile
PO Box 175
BS24 4PU

  Review - Wizard's Apprentice
  (11:42 29/5/2005)
Bill Kotsias Message #87976, posted at 11:42, 29/5/2005
Unregistered user After all these years, it still makes my day to take a peek at the good old days. 29/5/05
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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Review - Wizard's Apprentice