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

Virgin Mastertronic/£29.95/Sega

Categorise this one and you'll be in for some problems. Is it an adventure or an action game? Well, at the end of the day who cares? It's how it plays that matters. And this one really does play.

Plug it in and switch on, and things blast out at you like a bolt from the stars. The graphics are brilliant. They're very colourful and feature some great animated action.

The game is set in Japan with hosts of peaceful little temples dotted all over the place. The temples are under attack from men and mutants. In an attempt to defend them, a band of warriors were sent to one of the towers called Enriku; sadly they were all nobbled.

This is where Daikak pops up. He's head of the Summit Temple - the most important of the lot. This guy summons up his brother Kane, who's one mean dude. We could go into long detail about how he went about obtaining special powers, but it's infinitely yawny so we'll just say he's acquired the ability to shoot fireballs, dispatch a few bolts of lightning and fly. In short, he's a Spellcaster.

Kane is now needed to guard the people who taught him these skills 'cos there are evil men pouring out from all over the shop, and they're intent on slaughtering everything that moves. He must first go to the fallen Enriku Temple and defeat enemy after enemy before he can reach the temple. If Kane gets through, he meets a soldier in the middle of his dying breath who mutters "Izumo", before gasping for the last time. You then wander back to the Summit temple and march forward through other adventures all about avenging the death of your fellow warriors at Enriku.

The adventuring is in the form of finding clues and using them to seek retribution, but to get the clues you must fight some mini battles. These are very impressive and require you to be on the ball with every move you make. You go through sections where you need to fend off fire-breathing dragons, jump from one platform to another and enter into combat with armed soldiers. All the variety makes for a very playable and enjoyable game.

There are a lot more benefits to being a Spellcaster than you might imagine. The ability to cast spells means that you need to give a lot of thought as to which spell will defeat the marauding beasts in front of you. There are eight spells you can use and these let you hand out smart-bomb attacks and can even give you limited invincibility.

Strength and Energy is what the game's all about. You start with 20 units of each. Energy goes when you cast spells and strength disappears when you touch an enemy. If these get to zero, you've had it.

A ninth spell is given to you at the start and this is essentially a save Dosition feature. You're given a 24-digit code which returns you to the same position next time you play.

Spellcaster is one of the best games available on the Master System at the moment. That's not immediately obvious until you get into some of the action sequences and then, boy does it hit you. There are lots of clever twists and turns in the plot which means there's never a dull moment. These become graphically more exciting the longer you play.

The only thing that prevents the game from being a true adventure is the way you're constantly guided through the game. There's never any chance of you taking a wrong step because the game tells you exactly where you're heading whether you like it or not.

Nevertheless, the action is brilliant and if you're looking for a classic console hit then you need look no further.

Zero magazine

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