Palace Software
1986
Arcade: Adventure
£8.99
£2.99
Multiple languages (see individual downloads)
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

32
Clare Edgeley
Chris Bourne

Pumpkins are well out of season, yet Palace software keeps dragging them back. Although an odd vegetable to act as a hero, the pumpkin is rather cute as it wreaks havoc on the evil witch's castle.

We're talking about the sequel to Cauldron, based on the revengeful exploits of the world's last surviving pumpkin. Your mission: destroy the witch's power. Cauldron II - The Pumpkin Strikes Back is a platform game but the delightful graphics, more than make up for this minus. Play begins in a castle - bulut like Palace's logo - a hint which should help you if you want to map it out, at one of six randomly selected starting points.

Boing! Splat! Almost immediately the pumpkin bounces on to a skeleton. Instant death and one of six lives is lost.

The problem is learning to control the bounce and judging the height you should travel to reach ledges and avoid creeping hands, chopping scissors, spiders, mice and hosts of other deadly creatures. Hold the fire button down longer and the pumpkin will bounce higher and you have to time your jumps and be in exactly the right position to get anywhere. It takes some while getting used to.

The movement of the pumpkin is great. For one thing it wears a permanent silly grin and each time it hits the ground it seems to squash under the impact. If you listen carefully you can hear a faint splat! splat! issuing from the depths of your Spectrum.

Magic lies all around and if you can catch a bit - it sparkles - you'll be able to shoot the nasties. When retrieving magic and objects from the gargoyles take care not to land on their spiky backs though or you'll burst. Yuk. Pumpkin everywhere.

If you get it wrong the slab which holds the object tilts sending you hurtling down and down and down ... And its a heck of a long climb back.

Cauldron II may be a bit Wallyish - certainly in its graphic style - but it has all the ingredients of a successful follow-up.

Label: Palace
Author: Richard Leinfellber, Steve Brown
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Clare Edgeley

*****

If you liked Cauldron I you'll love it. The sequel is a significant advance and very difficult.

5/5

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PLAYING HINTS

Six flashing objects scattered I around the castle have to be picked up.

The crown protects you from the witch's killer magic and is vital in the later stages of your quest.

The goblet guards against the reverse control feature whenever you hit a purple hand and it's helpful if you get this early in the game. Like the purple flower in Sabre Wulf, whenever you run into a hand remember to reverse the controls for a few seconds. It's very confusing at first.

The axe smashes open locked doors and is necessary for access to certain areas. To find it you may have to dive out of a window - you won't die when you hit the ground.

The shield, guarded by an unfriendly stone gargoyle, gives protection from the skeletons.

The scissors are used to cut off the witch's hair. And the Book of Spells is needed in the final throes of the game.

Using these objects, you must find the witch, cut off a lock of hair and place it in the simmering cauldron while hoWing the Book of Spells. Like Samson, her power will then be drained.

One of the biggest problems is climbing up through the castle. Getting down's no problem. just leap through a gap and keep your fingers crossed that you don't land on anything nasty. Using the ledges to get up is another matter altogether.

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Avoid the hunchback. The goblet has been rescued. It guards against reverse control.

In the throne room, the centre of the castle. The crown lies in the throne guarded by a deadly skeleton. Don't jump into the candles or the flames will make you burst.

A stone gremlin guards the goblet. Time your jumps so as to hit the slab spot-on. Then jump back before it tilts outwards.