The Wiz
By Melbourne House
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Computer & Video Games #69

The Wiz

Is this the latest Stephen King novel or a set of game instructions? There's enough reading in the blurb for The Wiz to last you a week - well, a couple of days anyway.

And yes, you just have to read it this time. There's no way you'll get away with sitting down and playing the game straight off - you'll end up going nowhere fast.

That's the bad news. Once you mastered the instructions you can go on and master the game. Which isn't half bad really. At first glance it looks like yet another Gauntlet clone - your little Wiz whizzes around zapping creatures, zombies and anything else that wants to stop him completing his task - which is? Just read on...


As every day passes, more and more evil burst through from the dark side. It seems obvious to you, a mere first level wizard, that the long forewarned meeting of the worlds is imminent. On the Magical Isle, where in places the worlds of light and dark touch, the manifestations of evil are reaching epidemic proportions.

The Council of Wizards are reluctant to act. They see no way of preventing the disaster other than destroying the ancient links between worlds. In doing so, they would lose much of their magic as two of the four runes from which spells are prepared can only be found in the world of darkness.

Despairing at their greed for magic, you resolve to act alone. You must become a powerful fifth level wizard, acquire the spell you need to break the links and separate the two worlds forever.


The council has already learnt of your quest and seek to prevent you completing it. By their own rules, they are barred from interfering with the magical advancement of a wizard. Consequently, no wizard can refuse to teach you spells of your magical level unless you have been openly hostile towards him.

Despite this, they have other means of obstructing you. Your shielding against attack, normally maintained for lower level wizards by the fifth level masters, has been removed.

As a result, you are now vulnerable to the power draining attacks of evil beings.

As if this were not enough, it is rumoured that Tracer has been summoned and, should you stay in one place for long, it will find you and come through from the dark side. Once in this world, it will pursue you relentlessly.

You start the game and you will see your wizard in the centre of the playing area. At the top right of screen there is a scroll containing your current score, magical power and wizard level.

At the bottom right of the screen there is a spell book open at the "Zap 1" spell description.

Wiz operates in four modes: Move and cast, Prepare Spell, Read Spell Book, Buy Spell.

Move and cast mode:

This is represented by a Red Medallion. As you move, an arrow will show you your direction on the medallion. By pressing fire or space you cast the last selected spell. Beware though, as colliding with evil beings drains your power. Every time you cast a spell, you use up one unit of magical power. If you run out of power, you die!

Prepare spell mode:

To move into this mode from Move and Cast press the space bar. You will now notice that the medallion has changed. It is now blue and has runes in place of direction arrows.

To select a rune, move the joystick toward the desired rune. Spells are prepared by selecting the rune in the correct sequence and then pressing fire.

As you select each rune it appears in the scroll above the medallion and the appropriate rune level goes down.

When you press fire, the spell book will display the details of the spell you just prepared. Spells can only be cast by pressing fire when in move and cast mode.

Read spell book mode:

Once entering this mode from Prepare Spell mode, you will notice that the medallion has again changed.

It is now grey with only three directions marked. By moving the joystick left and right, you can read through the spell book which contains all the spells you have learnt so far, plus the ones you started off with.

Wiz only lets you prepare spells currently in the book.

Buy spell mode:

The medallion changes again. It is now purple with up to four different symbols.

If a wizard is on the screen when you enter this mode, the medallion shows the symbols of the spells he is qualified to teach.

There may be up to three. You can preview these spells by selecting the appropriate direction. Press fire and you will try to buy the highlighted spell. Note that the "Up" option means "buy no spell" and will take you back into move and cast.

A preview appears in the spell book and normally shows the name of the spell the symbol for the spell; the amount of magical power you will use up learning the spell, and wizard level you must attain before trying.

Attempting to buy a spell for which you do not have enough power will kill you! Or failure to buy the spell is indicated by the spell book page becoming blank.

Keep an eye on your score every time you try something new and you will soon learn the best way to achieve a high score.

However, getting a high score isn't just a matter of personal pride, it is the way to higher wizard levels.

Lots to do as you can see - so the lastability of this game is guaranteed. Playability? Well, I have to say that I found it difficult to get to grips with the game to start with.

But spend a bit of time on Wiz and you'll be rewarded with an entertaining arcade adventure.