Melbourne House
Arcade: Maze
ZX Spectrum 48K

Tamara Howard
Chris Bourne

The blub to Wiz makes it sound like a remake to Rebel Without A Cause. You are a lowly 1st Level wizard a mere nothing compared to the Council of Wizards. Yet although there is Evil leaking through the abyss from the Dark Side, growing in strength all the time, do they do anything. Ha! No! Because they get half their power from the Dark Side, and if our world was cut off from it. they'd have to send their company cars and remote controlled videos back. So it's all up to you kid. Slick back that quiff and away you go.

This makes Wiz a game with a silly plot, which the company amateur psychologists hoped would appeal to "the kids". But luckily, there is enough decent game design to make it worth buying anyway.

It might remind you a bit of Feud though.

You go through the five levels of the thing with the aim of cutting off the two Light and Dark worlds - the key to all this stuff is learning and using spells. Starting off with the three basic spells - Zap, Light and Force - as you go on, you meet Wizards who will be prepared to teach you others that will come in very useful along the way. These spells will cost you magical power to learn, however.

As well as that, casting any particular spell will cost you certain numbers of runes. There are four types of rune in the game, and you start off with eight of each. To cast a new spell, is not a simple business - particularly annoying if you are in a bit of a hurry.

First, if you don't know the way the spell is cast, you must look it up in your spell book. (Enter Spell Book mode, and memorise the sequence of runes). Now enter spell casting mode, and enter the correct runes in the correct sequence. If you got it right - you now have the appropriate power, if not... you lose the runes, and it's start all over again.

Extra trouble starts if you run out of one particular type of rune. To solve that particular problem, you have to search around for more runes and stuff.

And so on until you save the world...

Fair enough, it doesn't sound the most original of plots, but the implementation and design are excellent. Written by the programming duo of Mike Lewis and Simon Price who brought you the creditable Redhawk and Kwah! (also from Melbourne House) land graphics are well designed and the gamesplay is a novel combination of brain strain and reactions.

There are problems to solve, spells to learn, runes to get, levels to advance and more. Wiz is a challenge that'll take you more than half an hour to crack.

For instance, some spells cannot be brought straight off from the appropriate image. You find that you have to complete a quest... yuk. This makes things difficult... because some quests mean you have to have already got the right spells to complete it, etc, etc.

The actual spell casting sequence awards experience and IQ. If you have memorised the sequence for invisibility, for example, whenever you are in the mire up to the kneecaps, there's no messing around with the Spell Book, it's straight in there with the incantation. Good stuff. So, you can be assured that Wiz is both challenging and lastable. In fact, all in all, Wiz (despite the absence of Michael Jackson and Donna Summer) is the best Melbourne House release for quite a bit. Magic.

Label: Melbourne House
Author: Silhouette Software
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Tamara Howard

New approach from Redhawk authors results in neat mix of zapping and thinking. Magic stuff.