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"Putting it all into retrospective!"
Sorcery

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Sorcery

Virgin Games (1985)

Synopsis

The evil necromancer has taken your buddies and locked them away in his stronghold. As the last uncaptured sorcerer, you must free your friends and defeat him in the name of all that is good.

I've put a spell on you!


Graphics

Pros:

Astounding graphics and animation for the time that put its contemporaries far into the shade.


Cons:

Colour clashing is evident throughout.





Sound

Pros:

The title music is very good.


Cons:

In-game sounds are limited to grabbing objects and opening doors.





Gameplay

Pros:

It's a game that plays fairly with opportunities to restore health.


Cons:

Those pesky demons are a little bit relentless sometimes!




Graphics

Pros:

Captures the spirit of the CPC version.


Cons:

Inferior quality of graphics and level design. Colour clash also apparent.





Sound

Pros:

A grungier take on the "Sorcerer's Apprentice". Clever thunderstorm effects.


Cons:

Simple, barren effects otherwise.





Gameplay

Pros:

A decent version of the game that you'll feel compelled to complete.


Cons:

Feels a little overclocked in the character speed department.




Graphics

Pros:

Well now, that's a struggle!


Cons:

Soulless, insipid, crude graphics that will torture me in my sleep.





Sound

Pros:

I want to say something nice...


Cons:

But this rendition sounds like two mating foxes.





Gameplay

Pros:

I must have something good to say.


Cons:

Nope. Everything here is a shambles.



It's a Kind of Magic




If you was a non-CPC owner in the 80s, it's perhaps difficult to comprehend some of the indignities we endured. For one thing, we were almost always dealt with the hand-me-down ports of the Spectrum; a lazy method of copying a Speccy game onto the Amstrad almost verbatim. If the Spectrum game had colour clash or limited colour issues then the Amstrad would generally inherit the problem even though a little extra work would have resolved this. Both machines had similar hardware, therefore the process was a quick and lucrative way of making money. It actually made sense to pay for a computer magazine beforehand (Amstrad Action was my favourite) to ensure that a game review would foretell any of this nonsense and save us our cash.


Is that a candle in the wind?

And you'd probably think we were actually very spoilt really, considering CPC464 owners received a bumper 12-pack of games along with their machine. Wrong! Let's see now. Some of those games were so bad that marketing material sheepishly covered most of three of the tape designs shown on the cover of the bumper pack. Then we had to contend with the likes of 'Animal Vegetable Mineral' and 'Bridge-It' (rightly considered to be one of the most appalling games in all of life's history, and then some). The pack's only saving grace, if you could call it that, was Roland on the Ropes, along with the lesser games 'Harrier Attack' and 'Roland in the Caves'.


Thanks to computer magazines such as 'Amstrad Action' and 'Computing with the Amstrad', I already knew that Sorcery was the game to buy and I was begging Software Plus (a small but short-lived chain of computer stores in the UK) to just take my money already! The funny thing is that, up until the moment I began researching for this review, I always thought Sorcery was a game exclusive to the Amstrad. I don't know why this is, except that I haven't really heard of it being spoken about on other platforms. And I think the reason for this is because of the elevated visual impact and delivery that Sorcery had on the Amstrad CPC in terms of the above failings.

Evil demons will follow you around like lost lambs, but slightly unfriendly ones that want to murder you.

And so this is why the majority of us were instantly spellbound by Sorcery, a game that became the standard-bearer for the CPC until Get Dexter came to our shores. This was definitely not a port (as the video review will attest), and it became a massive hit for Virgin Games. Whilst using the CPC as the subject matter for an English exam (GCSE, Rodney!), and bringing my machine into school for this, I even used the game to demonstrate the capabilities of the Amstrad.


When Russian trees were all the rage...!

But, hey, that's enough background for now. What about the game itself? Well, you're in the role of a sorcerer who's the only one that hasn't been captured by the necromancer. It's your goal to release all of the remaining captive sorcerers so that between yourselves you can overthrow the dastardly wizard in his sanctuary. This isn't quite so straightforward a quest though, as you'll need to traverse between 40 screens using objects to open doors, defeat enemies, and cast spells to progress. To make matters worse, objects don't always have any real direct correlation to their intended target. For instance, who knew that a large bottle could open a door?


Across the board, gravity is also something of an enemy. Whilst floating in the air, presumably with the aid of your sorcery, the moment you let go of your controls you plunge towards the ground. This is usually trouble as there will almost certainly be an evil demon or a river there looking to respectively deplete your energy or completely waste you. Evil demons are very much on the ball as well and will follow you around like lost lambs, but slightly unfriendly ones that want to murder you. There are bubbling cauldrons in various rooms that you can use to replenish your health to 99%, but why you can't bump your health up to 100% still niggles me to this day!


The graphics on the Amstrad title screen are wonderfully flash and polished, with the game's title displayed in a large textured mixture of wrought iron and medieval masonry typeface. Heading into the game, you're immediately treated to some sumptuous eye-popping graphics; gorgeous chateaus set against sprawling, resplendent gardens, flowing waterfalls and rivers, plus ruined masonry and steel barred dungeons. It's what the Amstrad was made for!


Tree cloning went mental that day!

The Commodore version is a slightly more toned down affair. The title screen looks like a precursor to the first scene in Ghosts n Goblins. Our hero skates across the skies much more quickly than on the CPC, but this is a hindrance because so do the enemies, and you need some thinking time whilst you're trying to out-manoeuvre them. By comparison, the background graphics look dated already with some uninspiring artwork. The Commodore does have a unique lightning effect that, on its own, would be incredibly irritating. However, the thunderstorm sound effect that complements it really is the works and saves the day.


Lastly, onto the Spectrum version. For my money, this should have been renamed 'Titanic' because it's a disaster from the outset. The control keys are 'Q - left' and 'A - right', which sends a shiver down my spine as I type because that's... well... mental! The game bears little resemblance to the remaining platforms, and just looks like someone threw some badly designed Monopoly pieces into a poorly devised game. In fact, what I said earlier about Bridge-It has just been superseded!


Putting the Spectrum version well to one side, whilst you'll race to beat the clock to save your contemporaries, you'll be having a great deal of fun in the process. A magical, classic game with an abundance of replay value.




Graphics

The CPC shines with gloriously textured backgrounds and smoothly animated sprites. Surprisingly, the Commodore version was not given the same level of attention.


Sound

The "Sorcerer's Apprentice" title music is excellent on the CPC, with the C64 also providing an equally impressive grungier version.


Gameplay

This game is the equivalent of opening a can of Pringles. It's so good that you want to keep coming back for more.


Overall

A flagship game for the Amstrad CPC, and a nicely conceived game for the C64. I've erased the Spectrum version from my memory. I think I just said something about the Spectrum, I can't recall. Never mind.



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Platform Winners

Overall Ranking

90

5th Place

Our 2nd best game of 1985

Our only arcade adventure game review

Screenshots

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ROMs

Amstrad: download
Commodore: download
Spectrum: download

Video Review

Pixel8Games'pick of 1985

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