Horace In The Mystic Woods (Monsterbytes) Review | Crash Annual - Everygamegoing


Horace In The Mystic Woods
By Bob Smith
Spectrum 48K

Published in Crash Annual 2018

Horace In The Mystic Woods

Horace is back. One of the most recognisable and best-loved computer game characters once again graces the Spectrum. Originally written by Michael Ware for the Psion-3a palmtop in 1995, the original code was picked up by Bob Smith - he of many Cronosoft games - and converted to Horace's spiritual home. Horace is deep in the Mystic Woods and you must guide him through 64 single screens of cunning platform gaming by collecting the stars on each level to progress to the next.


Platform game comparisons are inevitable and a cursory glance might give the impression it's a Manic Miner clone. However, the mechanics of Mystic Woods are wildly different to many platform games. While some demand pixel-perfect jumping, Horace In The Mystic Woods is more forgiving of your jumping precision as you have to contend with inertia. A faster run up means a bigger jump. This also means a greater stopping distance and takes a little time to master.

While technically this is very well executed, the inertia element can thwart the gameplay - you don't stop immediately, frequently slip from platforms and often overrun into baddies. It makes the game testing and, at times, flirts with keyboard punching levels of frustration. Fortunately, there is the option to restart where you died and, in reality, this is the only way to progress through the 64 levels in one sitting. You can also redefine the keyboard controls and change the difficulty level. Note: easy is still hard.

Horace In The Mystic Woods

Graphically, Horace In The Mystic Woods keeps the flavour of previous Horace games while the animation is fluid and smooth with colour clash kept to a minimum. The intro/outro music and sound effects are also spot on thanks to Mister Beep's good work, and Horace's death screamis an unexpected bonus.

It's lovely to see Horace once again, like a fluffy comfort blanket of nostalgia embracing you. It then smothers you with its brick hardness. Horace In The Mystic Woods is undoubtedly an accomplished conversion. It's playable with some wickedly devious puzzles sprinkled throughout. A fine addition to the Horace family which will keep you busy for months.


Classic Spectrum platforming with a classic Spectrum hero. Levels are nicely designed with plenty of room to jump around. The inertia takes a bit of getting used to, particularly the way you bounce off the edges of the screen, but is all part of the game.

Collision detection can be a bit iffy, but there's usually enough room to keep well clear of the baddies. Overall an enjoyable romp that would pass as a high-quality game from the Speccy's heyday.


Control Keys: Cursor and redefinable keys
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair
Keyboard Play: Reactive and plays well
Use of Colour: Nice use throughout the varied levels
Graphics: In keeping with previous Horace games
Sound: Great title and end-game music. Solid effects
Skill Levels: 3
Lives: 3
Screens: 64
General Rating: A challenging game with an extra dollop of nostalgia added

Jason Railton

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