It seems that Gremlin Graphics can't put a foot wrong these days. Everything they produce has a quality about it that is somehow lacking in most of the other stuff.
The Magician's Curse is no exception. Although the idea has been around for a while, the quality of the game is so good that if Gremlin released Space Invaders, you could almost believe it would be a hit.
As the very old and much used legend has it, many years ago The Land was inhabited by an evil magician. There has to have been an evil magician you see, otherwise how would you account for all the evil thingies that inhabit The Land?
It's possible I suppose that he was really quite a benevolent bloke, just incredibly incompetent with the old spellbook. Still, for the time begin I think we'll stick with the Gremlin version of events.
Anyhow, none of this would concern us were it not for the fact that, hidden deep within the land there is an incredibly valuable golden statue. Why is it that software houses assume all computer gamers are greedy avaricious treasure hunters?
The first thing that strikes you is the quality of the graphics. Each screen appears against a night sky backdrop filled with twinkling stars. There are 48 screens in all and you move from one to another by moving the ubiquitous little man to the left or right hand edge of the screen. The animation is excellent. There is no flicker and you don't get that square box around the sprites that I've noticed on most other C16 games.
Your energy meter at the bottom of the screen depletes with every passing second. There are additional energy-depleting hazards. Apples fall from trees and, if you're not careful, give you a nasty knock on the head. Some screens are inhabited by vampire bats which have serious consequences for your energy meter should you come into contact with one. That's not all, by far the biggest hazards are the poisonous lakes - use the stepping stones, and the force fields - pick your moment.
There are two ways to replenish your energy, neither of which, you'll be relieved to know, involve drinking Lucozade. Potions are left conveniently lying around the place - could be Lucozade I suppose - no I don't get a tenner every time I mention it. [Daley Thompson does! - Ed] There is also the odd picnic lunch which goes down well if you're feeling a bit run down.
The general idea is that you run around in search of the statue, keeping your energy up with the odd ploughmans and bottle of potion. There are seven talismans which must be collected before you reach the final screen and there is the occasional adventure type puzzle to be solved. To enter the cottage and the church you must first find the key. There is a poisonous potion for which an antidote exists if you can find it quickly enough. Don't bother going into the caverns unless you have the candle.
If you manage to find the statue, or you fancy yourself a bit with the joystick, there are seven higher levels with more bats and falling apples. I wouldn't bother with level eight though. You can't see for the bats and the apples come out of the trees like they're jet propelled.
I managed to get through most of the game in a couple of hours, so experienced players might find the fun a bit shortlived. Even so, I'd say it was an hour or two and seven quid well spent.