Asterix is, internationally, one of the most popular comic strips ever. Never quite as popular over here as overseas, the cartoon stars the little Gaul, his fat friend Obelix and the druid Getafix.
It's 50BC and Gaul has been invaded by Roman legions, save that is, save for one small village which refuses to succumb to the might of Caesar's empire.
Melbourne House, which has made something of a speciality of translating fictional characters into computer games - The Hobbit, Sherlock and Lord of the Rings - has now released Asterix and the Magic Cauldron. Only six months later than intended, but as with Fist II, release schedules have never been Melbourne's strong point.
Asterix is a mix of graphic advenure and arcade action. The graphics themselves are beautifully done - particularly the backgrounds.
Asterix and Obelix are looking for seven pieces of Getafix's magic cauldron, which was shattered in a moment of stupidity by a mighty kick from Obelix.
Vitalstatistix, the tribal chief, who is only afraid of one thing - the sky falling on his head - orders Asterix and Obelix to recover the missing pieces so the village blacksmith, Fullyautomatix, can reforge the whole thing.
What you find in game terms are 50 different screens of action, covering the Gaulish village, the forest, Roman camps and Rome (or Roma, if you prefer). These screens are peopled by wild boars and Roman guards.
The action - fighting soldiers and so on is shown using a curious window zoom effect. For example, bump into a wild boar and a zoom facility brings the arcade action into close up. A box containing Asterix and the boar is projected on screen. Each character's stamina is displayed at the side of the box and you must kick, punch and pummel the boar into submission.
Fail and Asterix loses a life, shown graphically by Asterix lying backwards out of the box in a sitting position (known in skiing circles as the English or flying toilet position).
Succeed and the boar's stamina rating will decrese to zero, whereupon it will keel over.
Roman guards are armed with spears, but otherwise the fight scenes are similar, However, if you don't attempt to bash the guard, he may ask you if you want to surrender and you'll end up in a cell in Rome The only exit from the cell opens on to the arena. Here you do battle with a hyped-up gladiator.
You'll have to fight and win - he's carrying a cauldron section.
Knock him dead and he'll drop it - it's easily identifiable as it pulses as if with a magix force.
Label: Melbourne House
Reviewer: Brenda Gore
Clever graphics keep the spirit of the cartoon and the game play is refreshingly unusual.
HINTS AND TIPS
Always take a key when entering the cells.Drink the magic potion when you are faced by the gladiator in the arena.Don't run out of hams. If your supply is getting low, zap a few wild boars. If you run out of hams Obelix will stop following you around - and that's bad.An uppercut is often effective against Roman guards, but one is never enough - keep hitting.Make a map as you go.
Shows the snappy zoom-window effect. Asterix is about to get beaten up by a Roman.