Codemasters Plus range is the kind of novel idea that makes you wonder why nobody thought of it sooner. There are two versions of the game - a standard one to get you started and an expert version for later on when the standard one becomes a bit too easy to be any fun. It's also their first sally into the full price games market.
The game is supplied on two cassettes, one contains the program code, the other contains the data for the various game levels, each of which is loaded in when you've completed the previous one.
Your character is a cute little knight with a chainmail vest and a crown on his head. He starts the game with one life, plenty of energy, no points and feeble spell power, but waltzes happily off to face the oncoming foe regardless. To continue his quest eastwards to the nether regions of the TV screen it is sometimes necessary for him to climb trees, ramparts and other backdrop scenery in order to avoid falling down black holes. He does this with a neat little hop.
As the little chap hops and skips his way along, hordes of horrors, evil servants of the DragonLord, attack him and deplete his energy. In the first couple of minutes I found with formations of flying chalices, axes, pelicans, poisonous vials, mushrooms, sulks, justers (no joke), snakes, lizards, disembodied eyes, bubbles, and a few others besides.
To fight off the evil marauders you fling spell power in their path and they disappear in a puff of smoke, sometimes leaving behind a scroll which you can pick up for extra energy or a spell which you can add to your book. Some monsters like the snake cannot be destroyed by a few puny spell bolts and the only option is to climb out of the way or use one of the spells you picked up along the way.
Using spells is a tricky business. Each of the spells you pick up is stored in a numbered box at the top of the screen, and to cast one you have to let go of the joystick and hit the appropriate key. In this way you can let loose with a smart-bomb spell, turn into a frog and leap tall ramparts in a single bound, fly like a bird, before, think again. Dragon Slayer is a cut above others of its kind. The animation is good, the design of the graphics is wonderful and the variety enormous. It will take you a fair while to get through all four levels and when you crack it, you can attempt the more difficult expert version. That makes it good value as well as good fun. Nothing new but this deserves to do well.