MAGIC is in the air as the hero of Finders Keepers reappears to help his tutor Gimbal the wizard.
The old grump has been using spells to spice up his rice but, because of an error in translation, a spiel goes wrong. Gimbal is whisked off to the Castle of Karn, dragging seven other reluctants with him. Before his power is lost he manages to send a message to you, the Magic Knight, and you are off on another mission of mercy.
The knight is moved around the castle with joystick or keyboard in a similar way to the hero in Ultimate's Underwurlde. A series of easy to use command windows can be accessed to pick up or examine objects and order other characters around. The menus are easy to use and beat the old method of typing commands, word for word, onto the keyboard.
If you are using a joystick you can slide a pointing finger icon up and down the list of options and press the fire button to select. The game movement keys will do the same job if you don't have a joystick.
Movement between the five floors, basement and roof of the castle is achieved by teleport pad or lift. The teleport can be placed anywhere and, as long as you have the key, you can zap back to the pad at any time.
The lift should call at all floors, including an exotic roof garden with weirdly shaped trees and big colourful blooms. Unfortunately, rather like Dr Who's police box, it malfunctions at the start of the game and will not go to the basement or ground floor. You have to solve a riddle to get it working again.
Many of the objects you pick up contain helpful riddles. Most solutions are found by matching objects with other characters.
The characters within the castle are not particularly intelligent but you must keep them happy and fed. If you help them they will help you.
Spellbound is the first in a series of graphic adventures from Mastertronic, and if the rest are as good as this one the company will set new standards for quality and value. The game blows many an expensive package out of the window and some big name software houses had better watch their backs.
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair