Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Heavy on the Magick - ZX Spectrum

I wrote last month that I had bought a pristine copy of Knight Lore on the ZX Spectrum. Well, my love of all things Sinclair made it hard to resist when I recently saw a copy of Gargoyle's brilliant 1986 release, Heavy on the Magick.

Probably better know for their excellent Tir Na Nog and Dun Darach games, Gargoyle Games produced many wonderful titles in the Eighties, but it was Heavy on the Magick which really captured my imagination.

Taking control of the mysterious and hooded Axil the Able, the player starts the adventure as a lowly Neophyte - a low-ranking wizard who has been banished to the depths of a dank dungeon. It's up to you to guide Axil out of this dire situation, and it's not going to be easy.

The game plays very much like text adventures of old, with the player punching in commands such as 'Examine Object', 'Pick Up Book', 'Go North' etc. However, what separates Heavy on the Magick from classic Level 9 adventures such as Red Moon and Emerald Isle is the game's wonderful graphical style.

These games from the mid-Eighties used simple static screens to illustrate the player's surroundings. But Heavy on the Magick pushed the boat out to include full animation.

In fact, the animation and visuals throughout are still impressive - the wind occasionally tugs at Axil's cloak as he ponders his next move, while larger than life characters, such as the gormless looking Apex the Ogre, still exude charm and personality.

Stats are fairly basic, with only Skill, Stamina and Luck to worry about, but care must be taken as hindering Axil on his journey are lots of wandering foes, such as gargoyles and trolls. Combat is purely magic based and being a game from the mid-Eighties, Heavy on the Magick is incredibly tough, and often you'll be wiped out in a matter of seconds.

Heavy on the Magick is cumbersome by today's standards, and the game is unnecessarily complex at times, but it remains a classic in my eyes. It has a great atmosphere, still looks wonderful and is one of my favourite titles on the humble Spectrum.


The Retro Brothers said...

Ahhh, a great game on a great machine. Those memories...

It's something that we are into too. The speccy will never die!

Alexandre said...

Heavy On The Magick was my favorite game in the days of ZX Spectrum. The game had incredible depth for the time. Great animations, great atmosphere, immensely complex and complete game, worderful atmosphere.

Still love it today.

Best Regards
Alex from Portugal

Seth said...

A very nice game but maybe I never got to the end. I mean I've made all three exits, but nothing tells me the game has been completed. I expected some kind of an end sequence. Is there?

Duskmoor said...

Sadly Gargoyle Games ran out of money and the two planned sequels were never finished...Part of me still hopes the old team can get together and finally let Axil escape Collodon's Pile.