A FIRST reaction to Wizard's Lair, from Bubble Bus, is to check that Atic Atac has not been loaded by mistake, as the game is so obviously similar.
You play Pothole Pete who by accident stumbles across the wizard's lair and seems doomed to remain in the underground maze. Fortunately, he remembers a dreadful little rhyme he once saw on a cassette inlay which offers a clue to his escape: "If this lair thou doest uncover, four pieces of lion thou must discover. Only then may you escape past the lion that guards the gate." Sounds familiar?
Like Atic Atac, each room is viewed from above giving an impression of playing from the game's blueprint. There are many hostile guardians to overcome - easy enough as Pete occasionally stumbles across abandoned weapons. He also needs to keep up his energy and to that end must eat any food he discovers. Gold, diamonds and other valuable objects should also be collected as they will be needed later on.
There are several levels and those can be reached via magic lifts and wardrobe lifts. Wardrobe lifts take you straight to the next level and it is wise to note the names of those as the magic lift will ask for the name of the level you want.
A number of original features included in Wizard's Lair make the game more enjoyable. There is a variation in the scenery of each cavern and in some screens the vegetation border has been taken straight from Sabre Wulf with the same colourful jungle foliage. The speed of play is the same though certain screens in Wizard's Lair do take longer to draw.
Each room has between one and four exits which open and close at random. However, in many rooms there are well hidden secret exits. One sure sign that there is such an exit is to watch from where the guardians enter.
The status display around the edge of the screen is clearly laid out. At a glance you can tell how much in the way of weapons, energy and gold you have left and objects collected.
Although the game is plagiaristic in the extreme, it is well programmed and enjoyable. The colour and graphics are as sharp and defined as Atic Atac and the few extra features, including a river which meanders through many screens, effectively dividing them, make the game more challenging.
Joystick: Sinclair, Kempston