Wiz (Melbourne House) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

Zzap


Wiz
By Melbourne House
Commodore 64/128

 
Published in Zzap #28

Wiz

The Magical Isle is a mysterious place; home to Wizards and Magicians, it is rich with the magical power released from four special rune stones. All is not well though - at places throughout the island the parallel worlds of Light and Dark touch, allowing evil from the Dark site to spill over into the Light.

The Council of Wizards have chosen to do nothing about this. It would be easy enough to separate the two worlds, but two of the four stones from which they draw their power lie on the Dark side. Severing the worlds would mean the loss of their power - something which the Council are loathe to risk.

Seeing the Wizards' vision clouded by their greed for power, you decide to begin the task of becoming a Fifth grade Wizard, hoping to eventually attain the power to separate the two worlds for ever.

The screen displays an overhead view of your quest, with a panel to the right delivering information about the spells in your possession.

Four modes of operation are available: in 'Move and Cast' you move North, South, East or West through scrolling screens of open country or paved town pathways. A red medallion on the right shows your current direction.

Your anti-evil shield has been revoked by the Council of Wizards, making you vulnerable to energy-sapping attacks from the creatures which have infiltrated the land. You have limited power (shown at the top right of the screen), which is reduced further by spell-casting or collision with even entities: the more dangerous the creature, the greater the drain, with death resulting from a total power loss. Power returns gradually if left alone, however this process can be speeded up by zapping evil beasts - the more evil the creature, the greater the increase.

On entering 'Prepare Spell' mode, the medallion becomes blue, and the four rune symbols are displayed. When selected in the correct order, the rune sequence generates a spell according to the corresponding sequence in your spell book. After selection, runes are removed from your stock, and appear in the scroll above the medallion.

The 'Rune Spell' not only destroys enemies, but also causes them to leave behind a rune which remains for a short period, and must be collected within this time. Collecting runes in this way replenishes your stocks.

Two rune types are obtainable from the Light side, with the other two hidden in the dark. To enter the dark site, the correct 'Dark Spell' must first be discovered.

In the 'Read Spell' mode the medallion changes to grey, with three markers corresponding to pages of a spell book which can contain up to 20 spells.

In the final 'Buy Spell Mode', the medallion turns purple with up to four different symbols. When a Wizard is on-screen this mode displays the spells he is qualified to teach. Each can be previewed in the spell book, where the power requirements and necessary Wizard level are also displayed. Attempting to buy a spell with insufficient power results in death.

SJ

The concept behind Wiz is fairly novel, but its implementation leaves a lot to be desired. It's extremely unwieldy, and the control method is awful - once again the use of the Space bar to access the spell modes is very annoying.

The scrolling is slow and jerky and the characters are simplistic and ineffective. The Wizard's movement is also sluggish, and a major point against it is the fact that the joystick must be centralised between each movement - horrible!

JR

Limping into the Zzap! offices comes the latest Gauntlet clone, and what a tragedy it is. The programmers have obviously put a lot of thought into the scenario, but the only result of this effort is a very confusing set of instructions.

It's a shame that a little more work didn't go into the graphics - the unimaginative backdrops and poorly drawn sprites look amateurish, and the incredibly jerky scrolling isn't the sort of thing you expect to see these days.

Joystick control is sluggish too, and accessing the 'spellbook' constantly interrupts the flow of play. Who'd pay nine pounds for this? I wouldn't.

PS

Playing Wiz is a total waste of time, as even completing the first level takes tedium to a new level - I don't find any fun in trudging slowly around a poorly drawn play area shooting helpless creatures.

There's absolutely no challenge and, obtaining the spells is far too easy. The graphics and sound are really pathetic and the high price is a joke. Why can't Melbourne House go back to releasing good stuff like Exploding Fist? This is just a travesty.

Verdict

Presentation 40%
A poor on-screen layout complemented by confusing instructions.

Graphics 41%
Amateurish sprites set against jerky scrolling backdrops.

Sound 58%
A moderately interesting soundtrack and decent, if sparse, spot effects.

Hookability 39%
Initially difficult, due to the confusing instructions and unwieldy control method.

Lastability 27%
There's a fair amount of depth, but the poor presentation and unrewarding gameplay result in very little entertainment.

Overall 33%
Another interesting idea which completely fails in its implementation.