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Arcade: Shoot-em-up
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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Mark Caswell, Nick Roberts
Chris Bourne

Vive le frogs' legs! Vive le chunnel! Vive le escargot! Vive le Infogrames (and their endless stream of odd continental games)! And here's one about magic and stuff.

Apparently, not all magicians are good at the old fireball-chucking larks, and it's a wizard's apprentice you play in Mystical. Incompetent isn't a strong enough word to describe your character, as thick as two very (very) short planks is nearer the mark.

While taking one of your last exams, to control a dimensional door, you mistook a cat's tail for rat's tail and ended up decimating a laboratory. The unfortunate victim of your cock-up is the Great Wizard H. All of his potions, scrolls and magical knick-knacks have disappeared into a parallel world and, to avoid being turned into an earthworm or something lust as nasty, you have to follow and retrieve them.

Funnily enough, the inhabitants of this world don't seem too chuffed to see you and launch an attack. In your defence you can pick up the formerly lost spells and potions and make good use of them (see, we'll make a wizard of you yet), and a mate can join in as a bodyguard in the shape of a Gollum (who some would say looks not unlike me).

It's a vertically scrolling affair with you and Gollum walking into the trouble that appears from the top of the screen. But beware, other than the magical objects you are powerless, and if your assailants shoot you your energy bar swiftly decreases. Gollum can help here by bouncing on the attackers' bonces.

The potions and spells vary in strength from a pathetic fireball to turning attackers into frogs, snowmen, trees, charred skeletons etc. The plan is to survive long enough to reach the end-of-level pentagram(!), although the occasional evil god appears to give you a hard time.

Infogrames have has a pretty impressive track record recently, but although Mystical has very good graphics and sonics, it b oils down to just a tarted-up blast-'em-up.

A strange aspect of the game is it automatically starts as a two-player game. You can kill Gollum off if you want to play solo but this makes your job harder.

Initially fun to play, Mystical is too repetitive to generate sufficient lastability to make it a worthy buy.

MARK 70%


'Mystical is a strange game. It plays exactly like any old shoot-'em-up but the wild and wacky graphics give it a highly original look. The spells you collect only last a few seconds and have varied effects on your adversaries, from changing them to leaping frogs to moulding them into trees! Presentation is excellent with colourful screens and a groovy tune; it's a pity the rest of Mystical is a bit monotonous. Mystical has nothing new or inventive to offer the gamesplayer and is overpriced for what it provides.' NICK ... 66%

Good, entertaining action but lacks sufficient originality and variation.