Memory Required: 48K
Retail Price: £5.50
Language: Machine code
Author: Ian Weatherburn
This is Imagine's first step into the mist-shrouded world of terror and mystery, Warlocks and monsters, Wizards and spells. It still isn't a proper adventure, much more of an arcade type game, but with adventure overtones. You, the most skillful Alchemist on Earth, have been summoned to do battle with the Evil Warlock who is terrorising the Land. You must enter his dread castle, find the four sections of the magic scroll, which will enable you to render the Warlock powerless by using his own Spell of Destruction against him.
Playing the game is quite a complicated matter. The Alchemist can wander about as himself until he reaches a drop or a steep hill, and these obstacles may be overcome by transforming into an eagle, which is made to fly by flapping its wings. The dread castle is full of rooms, caverns, passageways and stairs, filled with a wide variety of monsters, useful objects and minor spells which may be used once, and of course the four pieces of the magic scroll. The Alchemist is only allowed to carry one object at a time (and he's the most skillful!) so a strategy element creeps in.
Any type of movement, or bumping into objects, or transformations, deplete your stamina. This is maintained by passing over food packs (if you were an evil warlock keeping skillful Alchemists at bay, would you leave food packs lying around your castle)?
The two weapons you possess, hurling lightning bolts or casting spells if you have found one, use up your energy, which is replenished only by time. Encounters with monsters also drain you, though this depends on whether you are carrying some useful object like an axe or a sword. So there it is, O Skillful One - care to have a go?
Control keys: seven keys are used to walk/fly left and right, transform, cast a spell/hurl lightning, flap wings, pick up/drop objects and pick up/drop spells. The Quit key (1) seemed dangerously near the other action keys.
Joystick: Kempston, Fuller
Colour: very good
Sound: very good
Skill levels: 1
Screens: continuous scrolling
On your mission you will encounter many problems, like finding a key to open a door, and many Guardians such as lobsters, ghosts, brooms, skulls, bats, evil butterflies, swords which attack you, snails, caterpillars, bones, axes, a boulder and much more. The presentation is very good, with a high quality title screen and adequate instruction, although a bit more advice would not go amiss! The graphics are very good and so is the sound, with a rather spooky organ tune which sets the scene well. In playing, the game is extremely good, fun and very addictive. Definitely another winner for Imagine. Oh, by the way - don't pick up the trap thinking you can use it as one - it will explode during the game, destroying you!
The Alchemist is an original game which is fun to play, not only because it is difficult, but because it also has exceptional graphics, lots of them, all well designed and animated. Controlling the game requires a handful of keys which take some mastering, but they seem quite well laid out. The game is not unlike Atic Atac in feeling, and has about the same level of playability. Although it couldn't be called a shoot em up, it still manages to be very addictive, since it is so easy to lose your one life.
This is a game which is fun and has so much detail to explore in the massive castle that it makes you want to keep playing. That said, I didn't think it was terribly addictive, although I'll probably want to go back after some time and have another go. Excellent graphics and use of colour. An Imagine-ative game and obviously worth the money.
Use of Computer: 80%
Getting Started: 68%
Addictive Qualities: 89%
Value for Money: 95%
In issue 2 we said that Alchemist was Imagine's first step into the mist-shrouded world of terror and mystery. Perhaps overating it somewhat! Alchemist, however, was Imagine's first attempt at anything with adventure overtones in an otherwise arcade style game.
Alchemist does have some imaginative graphics, although I can't agree with the review, 'exceptional graphics... excellent graphics'. They are quite old looking and don't move very easily about the screen. The keyboard layout is poor. Overall this game comes nowhere near Atic Atac, as mentioned in the original review. The castle which seemed massive on first playing has dwindled down to just a dozen separate rooms. I think was overrated.
I don't entirely agree about the graphics. They are quite original, certainly very detailed. If they move awkwardly it is more because of their size and the inertia which has been added. On the other hand I do think Alchemist lacks a lot in playability because of the content, which isn't very high. It's an easily completed game and unlike Atic Atac doesn't have sufficient arcade interest once completed to keep you having another go.
(Matthew) The 80% for use of computer doesn't hold up as far as the keyboard play goes, and I wouldn't give it more than 69% now. The graphics too, by today's standard, would have to come down, probably around the 72% mark. As to its addictive qualities, well the original 89% is right out of the window! More like 60% for me.
(Lloyd) I wouldn't push the graphics down much at all, they still look fine to me. It got 90% for playability, well it's fun to start with but I think that's over the top. It seems to me, looking back on it, that Alchemist was among the first of a generation of games which tried to get definitely away from the shoot em up tradition, so perhaps its ratings were more appropriate then than they are now. Certainly it's addictive qualities were rated far too high, I think around the 68% mark now.
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