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Arcade: Adventure
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Alkatraz Protection System

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Chris Jenkins
Chris Bourne

If you like computerised versions of Dungeons and Dragons, you normally have to put up with pathetic graphics showing piddly little matchstick men going, "ecky-ecky-ecky" in featureless boxes meant to represent amazing pixie treasure chambers. There are so many games of this kind around that I seriously think D&Dists actually LIKE pathetic graphics.

Fortunately, you now have a choice. You can be a weedy wet and stick with the matchstick men; or you can get Wizard Warz and enjoy an altogether more visual experience.

Wizard Warz casts you as a junior sorcerer with big ambitions. The game is in three parts. First, find the treasure, defeat guardian monsters and claim your reward. Second, slay a selection of demons. Third, defeat the 7 wizards and take your place as the Big Boss.

The playing screen is divided into 8 main sections. Starting top left, you have your spell book. There are around 30 spells from which to choose; as you gain more power, you can add more spells to your book. The abilities of each spell are explained in the manual, so selecting the best ones for the current quest is a major pan of the game.

Below the spell book appears your own image, which changes according to your state of health. Below this are the 3 bar charts which show your physical, spiritual and metal state. You can exchange points between these attributes, and boost them by performing certain quests, eating food and so on.

In the middle of the screen is the main playing area. This is a large scrolling landscape through which you move in search of cities, treasures and monsters. When you encounter a monster, this changes to a combat screen where you must cast your magical spells in an attempt to slay each opponent. Below the main display is your inventory, which shows your food supplies, treasures which must be returned to the cities and so forth. On the right of the screen appear your opponents' spell books, images and attributes. Sound effects are minimal, after the admittedly decent theme tune.

Apart from the fact that the controls gave me no end of gyp - select Interface 2, and you get Keyboard control, then the Fire key doesn't work, and all kinds of hassle - Wizard Warz is good fun, and much better looking than many similar attempts to do a D&D. The big problem, which it has in common with previous titles, is that there are long periods of wandering around with nothing happening; I suppose you could argue that it captures the boredom of being a junior wizard wandering around without knowing where one's next quest is coming from. But even so it's still dull as ditch water in this section. Still and all, I'd rather see a system which guarantees continuous action.

Label: Go!
Author: Canvas Software
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Complex, entertaining and nice-looking D&D simulation.