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Mirrorsoft Ltd
David O'Connor, MB
1986
Arcade: Action
£7.95
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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73
Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Take one wizard from Avalon, add some BC Quest for Tyres graphic design and ladle in a classic arcade plot (Hunchback if not much earlier) and you have Zythum.

Zythum is not by any means a bad game. In fact it uses some classic ideas rather well and looks quite good if two-colour. It passed the 'aaarggghhhh-why-did-I-do-that?' test with flying colours (uttered once an hour is bad, once a minute is good - with Zythum it was about once every twelve seconds).

The central figure is a wizard who favours the same dresses as the wizard in Avalon, a sort of southern Belle number. Forcing your central wizard to wear a dress means that you have to do less animation, a cheat but I guess he hovers quite well. Quest object this time is a magical drink which generates unknown powers (in this respect it is similar to Pratt's Old Peculiar) - the substance is stashed in a castle. Before you reach the castle you must cross four different lands each one chock-full of bottomless pits, marshes and quicksand.

Guarding each land are the usual hoards of flying creatures (in the first land it looks like a Yorkshire terrier with wings). It should be pretty apparent from this that the game is going to involve a lot of dodging, jumping and zapping as you fight your way through each land.

The game looks pretty good, it features the kind of detailed, two-colour backgrounds associated with games like Tir Na Nog and the central figure is quite neatly animated. The two-colour limit is a surprise, though, I can't see the attribute clashes were so utterly unavoidable that the restriction was necessary and a bit more colour should have been possible.

Spells are available for levitation and temporary immunity from the dogs and subsequent flying things. You can also pick up spare smart bombs here and there and bonus points.

The playing are is large. Each of the four lands is displayed along the bottom of the screen with an arrow indicating what point you have reached. There are certain minimum points you must reach in each section before you don't have to restart at the beginning. I found this, quickly, getting very, very irritating.

What counts as hard or easy in computer games is so astoundingly subjective that I hesitate to put any such value on Zythum, but I reckon it definitely deserves a 'not for beginners' tag.

Label: Mirrorsoft
Author: David O'Connor
Price: £7.95
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

****

A good variant of a tried and tested format. Difficult challenges in this trad-style dodge-and-fire with a high frustration factor.

4/5

Screenshot Text

PLAYING TIPS

The cross gives temporary immunity from attack.

Spring pools (wavey lines on screen) cause you to bounce uncontrollably - avoid them as this leaves you open to attack.

Marshy areas (tufts and thistles) restrict your ability to take off.

Save smart bombs and use them carefully. There are certain situations where you really need them.

Use periods of immunity to move quickly on. The time limit is tight.