Software, £7.99 cass, joystick only
O Large arcade-adventure with
Scrolling planet plus 64 underground
arcade adventures on the 64 are few and far between
at the moment -- Cauldron attempts to expand
this category. It is essentially an arcade game (combining
platform and shoot-em-up elements) with adventure overtones.
Six strange ingredients must be retrieved from the very
bowels of the planet to form a spell. This spell must
be used to dispose of the evil Pumpking.
start in the witch's house surrounded by six parchments,
one for each ingredient to be found. This is where the
final spell is to be made, so everything must be brought
back here -- 'juice of toad, eye of newt, wing of bat
and Hemlock root, mouldy piece of splintered bone. .
. .' -- doesn't sound too appetizing.
of the attractive cottage hobbles the witch, and then
into the forest, depicted in detailed 2D. In order to
collect the ingredients she must find four coloured
keys, scattered around the planet, to open the doors
to the underworld (see panel).
these keys is difficult. Your hag can walk a fair distance
around the world, but mountain ranges, sea, and a graveyard,
are impassable unless flown over. To take off on her
broomstick, she must find a clearing. A quick push up
on the joystick and she takes off slowly.
control is very reminiscent of that arcade classic,
Defender, with a large amount of inertia to take
into account when you change directions -- this takes
some getting used to.
witch flies over her cottage early in the game.
Eight hogs (lives) remain. If the bat (top centre)
bits her, her magic level will fall.
your travels you pass trees, bats, ghosts, and very
aggressive plants spitting death. Shark fins and seagulls
roam the seas, and volcanoes spout fireballs. Some of
the nasties you can destroy by firing magic, but this
only works when you're flying.
four keys are placed randomly around the world, making
the game slightly different every time you play. Once
you've collected one, or all, of the keys, it's down
into the darker depths of the globe to get the components
for your spell.
five doors lead to four separate caverns of platform
action (one cavern has two doors). In each of the caverns
you must negotiate various platforms and avoid the nasties
floating around. These include some superbly defined
skulls, pumpkins, rib cages, bats, and fireballs, all
following predictable but awkward patterns.
one of the 64 underground rooms
and under attack from a skull and a bat.
of the ingredients can only be taken when carrying certain
containers and, because you can only carry two ingredients
at a time, you need to make several return journeys
to the cottage. Once all the ingredients are collected
and mixed, it's off to the Pumpking's lair (one of the
caverns), to put the spell to good use.
have eight hags, or lives, to attempt to achieve this
feat, and initially these are easily lost. You start
with 99 units of energy for each witch, and a life is
lost when energy reaches zero. This is continually depleting,
and is made worse when contact with a nasty occurs.
off, landing, and picking up keys, accounts for a high
percentage of deaths. Energy can be replenished, though,
by sources of power which you must hover or stand in.
graphics in Cauldron, although very Spectrumesque,
are great. Backgrounds are detailed and very effective,
as are the sprites. The moon hangs realistically in
the night sky, and makes an impressive scene when the
witch flies in front of it. Animation is terrific and
colours are superbly used, giving some excellent 3D
effects all round.
sound isn't that impressive -- the opening music being
fairly simple, albeit atmospheric, but some sound effects
are put to good use.
instructions given are simple but adequate, and are
printed in rhyme on a 'parchment' in the inlay.