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

38
Chris Bourne

Into the mystical lands you must venture in search of the secret potion of Zythum. This is a very ancient type of beer which gives the partaker mystical powers and possibly even eternal life. It has been lost for centuries in this weird and wonderful landscape and many have searched for it before you, but it has never been found. One of the main reasons for this is that the country in which it is hidden is inhabited by various guardians who possessively guard the elixir.

Four separate landscapes have to be crossed during the journey to the potion location. Three lives are available, and a life is lost each time you make contact with one of the guardians that pursue you mercilessly on the journey you return to the start of the current land when death comes...

Setting out with a burning desire to locate the Zythum you are equipped with a fist full of fire crackers and a limited number of bombs. Firecrackers seem to go on forever, but use the bombs sparingly because once they're gone there ain't no more. A magic staff that wards off evil spirits is amongst the useful objects that can be collected on the way: a chalice confers the power of levitalion and a crucifix gives short term immunity from the custodians. Money bags and treasure chests are worth bonus points.

There's no time to hang about and enjoy the scenery, however, as each of the four levels must be completed in just eight minutes. Take any longer and it's back to square one. Apart from the custodians and guardians this country contains many natural dangers. Quicksands suck a hapless traveller to a sticky death while bottomless pits must be skillfully jumped over or else wheee! Dead. Marsh mud sticks to your feet and temporarily saps jumping abilities, while spring pools send you cavorting into the air. Hidden landmines, buried in a sneaky attempt to get rid of unwanted travellers also have to be avoided. The vegetation is also a bit weird because some bushes make you invincible for a short while.

The action takes place in a scrolling window in the top half of the screen. An arrow points to your position on a map along the base of the screen, below the status area. It'd better be a good brew, this Zythum you'll need a good drink on arrival!

CRITICISM

'At first, Zythum held a reasonable appeal for me. After playing for a length of time, though, things started to get crazily frustrating. The game seems to have been written so as to make it as unaddictive as is possible. If that was the author's objective, then he's certainly succeeded. The graphics are pleasant enough, but you really start wanting to belt the life out of your Spectrum when it kills you off pixels before the end of a stage and sends you right back to the beginning, time and again. The idea for Zythum isn't the best ever conceived - but is definitely not the worst - though after playing the game you might need some convincing of that. Quite good in all its facets except addictivity. This isn't a game I would recommend.'

'I found that Zythum was well presented but lacked a very challenging or addictive game. The graphics a re very detailed but the colour is completely wrong. The blue on white screen is very hard to see and strains the eyes. I felt that you had to be good at the game to really enjoy it, because the distance you have to cover to get anywhere in Zythum is quite large. The graphics are the most impressive part of the game, as they are large and recognisable but could have had some better animation to bring them alive. The game didn't consist of much to keep me playing for long - it was just a case of judging distances and shooting baddies. Zythum is a very basic 'up and down' game that requires little mental ability and is very easy to leave.'

'Oh no. Oh no! I can't play this game any more; its just s0000000 frustrating, it's unbelievable! A split second of misjudgement, and it's back to the beginning again. Okay, so some games are equally as demanding in their necessity for accuracy, but they don't penalise mistakes quite as harshly as Zythum does. The fact that it's so maddening is quite a pity, considering the game has got so much potential for playability. Graphics are passable, and the scrolling is a bit unfortunate, but visually in every other respect, Zythum has no serious downfalls. Playing the game soon makes you realise that not everything that looks okay plays well. Such a pity, after the excellent Dynamite Dan II.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: mainly monochrome
Graphics: large and wiry
Sound: minimal effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: scrolling play area
General Rating: Zythum is a game which you may find appealing at first, but is frustrating when played to any great length.

67%
68%
66%
66%
52%
53%
59%

Screenshot Text

Trapped between the guardians and a nasty looking bush, you've got three lives left and lots of bombs so you might make it through okay, if you're lucky!