1986
Adventure: Graphic
£9.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

40,41
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Frozbie growled suddenly. "What's up. old chap?", said the professor. "That dog's no dummy, Prof", O'Donnell observed grimly, "it knows something ain't right".

Something was trudging towards them with slow, heavy, yet regular steps. Suddenly a figure lurched from behind a crumbling pillar.

"My God it's, it's... It doesn't have, I mean ... " O'Donnell quivered in terror. The Professor nodded grimly, "yes, my friend, you are right, it doesn't have a head ... "

Pyracurse is a little like that, it reminds me of half a dozen B-movies where a group of unlikely characters explore ancient ruins in search of adventure and treasure. Usually an absent minded (but brilliant) Professor, a hard bitten journalist, an independent young lady who ends up wanting nothing more than a little cottage in the country with the hard bitten journalist, an independent young lady who ends up wanting nothing more than a little cottage in the country with the hard bitten (but strangely handsome) journalist and a dog.

The character design, animation and plot of Pyracurse combine to produce a deft parody of those old movies and, incidentally, one hell of a game.

That dodgy term, adventure movie for once seems well warranted.

To say that you actually identify with the animated characters in Pyracurse may be pushing it a bit, but certainly they give as good an impression of actually having a personality as any I've seen.

You control four characters (three characters and a dog to be precise) - Daphne, the Professor, O'Donnel and Frozbie. Each has different strengths all of which you will need at one time or another. Frozbie, for example, may find things hidden in the dirt.

Movement of each character around the labyrinthine maze of the ancient city is by joystick. To move onwards through the city you not only dodge hoards of headless monsters, skulls, scorpions and other wandering nasties but also open hidden doors, collect treasures and solve countless puzzles.

The trick to avoiding trouble is to select the right character to control in the right place at the right time.

There are essentially two modes. In the first you use the joystick to move the currently selected character around the Inca-style city the walls of which scroll smoothly in a similar way to Ant Attack. The second mode gives you a menu, scrolled using the joystick (a la Dragontorc) where you select an object for use, switch control between characters or choose to control all the characters simultaneously.

Everything is not as it seems. The thing to do is to concentrate on getting through the maze of city ruins collecting information and objects as you go. It seems, though that various members of your group all have different motives for wanting to be on the expedition...

Pyracurse, the first game from Hewson's in-house programming team is a winner. The smooth scrolling and 3D graphics put it a disembodied head and shoulders above most other recent releases.

Label: Hewson
Authors: Mark Goodall, Keith Prosser
Price: £9.95
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

*****

"My God professor it's incredible!" gasped O'Donnell, "It seems Hewson can do no wrong"

5/5

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PLAYING TECHNIQUES

To begin with get to know the characters. The first skills you need are fairly standard arcade ones: react quickly to dodge the nasties. Some of them are foolish and you can easily avoid them, others head inexorably straight for you.

Useful objects are often found in caskets which can be smashed by running into them (sometimes). Keys to locked doors come in various shapes and it's important to match up the right key shape to the right shape lock. Treasure chests may also stay fiendishly locked until you figure out which character and which object are needed.

Your characters may die if they are hit too often by baddies but all is not lost, if you can locate one of the globes of reincarnation liquid and pour it over the bones of the dead character, that person is back in the game.

GRAPHICS

Simply marvellous, although the main sprites are fairly small, there is a sense of detail in the clothes (check out O'Donnells stylish overcoat and Daphne's 'Southern Belle' completely-inappropriate-for-adventuring ballgown outfit). The animation is equally impressive, particularly the dog, which pads along in a lovely authentic manner.

Scrolling is very smooth indeed - no noticeable visual hiccups and superb hidden-line removal techniques mean true 3D realism when objects move behind walls etc.

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The youthful professor Kite stands by an opened treasure chest. Beside him is one of the bottles of immortality fluid used to revive dead members of the team. Not all treasure chests reveal their secrets so easily.

More monsters. A roving scorpion and skulls that fly through the air. The professor stands alone. Not the ideal person for physical confrontations.

A headless guardian trudges past the gateway. Inside O'Donnell may get further help by opening the casket. Of the hieroglyphics against the back wall, he can make no sense. Perhaps another character is needed?

A deadly scorpion scuttles around dangerously. Daphne and O'Donnell search desperately for a key that matches the lock. The screen indicates that O'Donnell is the character currently under your control.

The whole group. O'Donnell, Frozbie. Daphne and the professor.

Fozbie the dog. Not merely cute. His size means he can get through passages too small for the other characters. And he can dig for useful objects.