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Reviews: SpellCaster / Kujakuou (孔雀王) - review by ACE magazine

The Japanese love role playing games. They are the most popular type of game amongst the many millions of console owners, regularly out-stripping the latest shoot 'em ups and arcade games.

This explains the comparatively high number that are available for the Sega. But if you have always reasoned that RPG's with all that puzzling and adventuring are not for you then you might be wise to reconsider. Spellcaster is a very different type of game. It is much more arcadey than computer RPG's. and the plot and characters are all introduced to you in snappy cartoon-style cameos.

You are the ambitious young warrior Kane, determined to prove your valour to the leader Daikak. An opportunity arises when ten of Daikak's warriors are slaughtered by a mysterious enemy when they were dispatched to guard some remote mountain temples.

Daikak instructs you to journey to Izumo to find out what happened to he men. This is where the action begins, as you find yourself journeying through a forest and under attack from strange teddy-bear like creatures.

You are armed with a Dokko which you can throw at the enemy to kill them before they can tough you and reduce your strength rating which is displayed above the action window. Your energy level is also displayed at this point.

You are never far away from the action in Spellcaster, which is where the game departs from more pure RPG style games like Dungeon Master. You have to complete each of the mini arcade missions in order to reach the destina tions, where you encounter other characters whom you can talk to.

Once you reach once of the eleven destinations you are given a menu of possible moves. You select either Move, Talk, Look. Take, Use, or Spell by highlighting your chosen-action with the joypad and pressing fire.

Normally it is best to have a good look around first as the game will give you clues in its descriptions of the location. Look gives you a further "At what?" request which enables you to move a finger pointer around everything in the graphic window display, examining anything that you think may be of use. If something is identified you may use TAKE to grab it.

There are a further seven weapons to be picked up in the game, all of them more powerful than the Dokko with which you start. There are also the spells and you will need to cast these during certain action screens if you are to survive them and solve the mystery.

You have not really got to grips with Spellcaster until you start to wield the magical powers of the spells. The best of them is the Nobota spell that creates a shield impervious to all the enemy's missile attacks. The Indira Spell is one of the most spectacular, bringing down bolts of lightning to strike down your enemies.

You can cast a spell at any time you wish by pressing the pause button. This will bring down the Status Screen where you can select your spell (Providing you are carrying it) and then return to the action screen where the spell is executed. This information screen also enables you to use the "Password Save" feature which enables you to quit the game and then resume the next time you play at exactly the same position by making a note of the password.

Mars calls on the God of the War to restore your strength. Makiri enables you to fly (very useful in some of the trickier platform action screens), Fudo gives you a huge and deadly ball of fire, and Hatten calls on the God of Winds to whip up a tornado against your enemies.

There is good variety in the in the action screens that Kane must journey through. Apart from the the temples and shrines the quest also takes you into space, across time, and into the Land of the Dead.

Mastering the use of the spells and weapons makes for a good tough challenge. Ultimately Spellmaster is limited by its finite plot. Once you have done it you are unlikely to plug it in again. It provides a fun challenge whilst it lasts though.

Spellcaster is more of an arcade game with adventure style graphical rewards between levels than a pure RPG. Its arcade screens are tough and graphically satisfying with the added curiosity of the mystery. A competent game.

Eugene Lacey

£29.95ct OUT NOW

ACE magazine

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