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Beyond Software
Pat W. Norris
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Released at the same time as Psytron, Spellbound is in a different class, sadly, a somewhat lower one. Dressed in the guise of dungeons and dragons. Spellbound is actually a '0-bed' game of leaping from square to square to change the colours of a 28 step pyramid.

The scenario is that you (a frog in the disguise of a prince - or is it the other way round?) must escape the clutches of the witch Griselda. She (or is it a he?) stands to the left of the pyramid, stirring her/his cauldron. To do this you must hop about on the pyramid and change the colours of the steps without hopping over any edge, or occupying a square occupied by one of Griselda's spell creatures. These appear on the top square at intervals as she throws them out of the cauldron with a flash of lightning. There are 12 levels of increasing difficulty, with more and more spells chasing after you.


'This game didn't get off to a good start - pressing the Protek/AGF joystick option resulted in my being asked to program my joystick, so I had to play with a totally unresponsive keyboard instead, as I couldn't get back to the option menu again without reloading. The witch on the side of the screen is realistic as she stirs her cauldron and throws out spells, but the playing characters are small, undetailed and the choice of colour is appalling - you can hardly see some of them. On some screens the change in colours when you jump on the steps is so slight it hardly shows up at all. As this is a 'Q-bert' type game, where have the essential spinning tops to take you up to the top gone?'

'At first glance, this "Q-bert" version looks very good, with unusual graphics, a nicely animated witch and muted colours. A lot of sound has also been used, which is nice until you find out that whenever the witch throws a spell out and there is an explosive sort of noise - everything on the pyramid stops dead. Should you be pressing a jump key at the time, the hesitation can make you try pressing it again, with the result that you make two jumps when everything resumes play -and over the edge you may well go. The keyboard responses are the problem with Spellbound, and it makes the game less playable and not very addictive. '

'The graphics are rather cute, but the game itself is a little on the slow side, and I really feel that with the recent rush of "0-bed" type games, there are much better versions around than this one. One factor in Spellbound which makes it different, apart from the fairy tale scenario, is the tact that each level is played out against a falling time limit -although be warned - the red segment isn't an indication of imminent death. When you reach the red bit - you're already dead! '

Control keys: O/P left/right upwards, Z/M left/right downwards
Joystick: ZX 2, Kempston, Protek, AGF, Downsway (has key programming option)
Keyboard play: poor
Use of colour: colours used are varied and good, but not always very well used
Graphics: reasonable, but playing characters are poorer
Sound: good
Skill levels: 12
Lives: 3
Originality: based on arcade game, now several versions available
General Rating: Interesting variation, but lacking playability due to programming.


Screenshot Text

Griselda stirring her (or his) cauldron would send shivers down any princeling frog's back.