So, you thought you'd seen it all, did you? When it comes to 3D arcade adventures, that is. Well, think again, because Pyracurse is here. This latest release from Hewson will not only enhance their already considerable reputation for producing quality games, it will also make "room-based" arcade adventures look a bit silly.
Pyracurse allows you to move freely about a huge scrolling area exploring mysterious rooms and chambers, opening chests and discovering the contents of huge ancient vases.
If you picked up the last issue of C&VG you'll already know some of the background to this South American adventure. For the unfortunate few who couldn't get their hands on an issue here's a brief synopsis of the plot.
Patrick "Legless" O'Donnell, Professor Roger Kite, Daphne Pemberton-Smythe and Frozbie the dog set out to explore the tomb of the daughter of Xipe Totec an ancient and supposedly immortal god. They hope to find Daphne's father, ace explorer and archeologist Sir Pemberton-Smythe, who has unaccountably gone missing in the Sinu region of Columbia.
At the start of the game the four characters are found at the entrance to the tomb - which is teeming with headless guardians, poisonous scorpions and deadly skulking skulls.
Each of the characters has his/her/its own particular skill. And you'll need to keep all four of the explorers alive if you want to succeed. Fortunately, there are flashs of the extremely useful genetic enzyme dotted around the tomb. These can be used to resurrect "dead" characters if necessary. It's a good idea to make sure that at least one of your characters has a flask of this enzyme. They can be found quite close to the entrance!
O'Donnell is the strongest member of the group. He's useful for breaking pots which you'll find inside the tomb and which contain useful items. Daphne is better at finding things than the others. Frozbie tends to enjoy digging through the dirt. Professor Kite is good at using the ancient objects left in the tomb.
At the top of the screen is a window displaying your current mode of operation - you start in mobile mode. To the left, a coloured band indicates the energy status of your current character. If the energy level falls to zero your character will die.
Manipulating the characters and getting them to do all the right things for you will be crucial when playing the game.
The monsters you'll find are not very clever but they are extremely single-minded. They will not stray far from their posts but they will chase you if you get too close to them. Fortunately there are ways of disposing of them!
There are many items for you to collect and use scattered around the tomb. To pick up an object, select mobile mode and walk up to the item you require. As you collect it the graphic window will flash and show you a picture of the item. Each character may carry up to three items at a time.
If O'Donnell or the Prof are a bit low on lifeforce, a cuddle with Daphne will help!
Pyracurse really is something completely different. It has atmosphere and addictiveness in equally enormous quantities. It's the first "adventure movie" from programmers Mark Goodall and Keith Prosser - hopefully the first of many.