Heavy on the Magick

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Heavy on the Magick
Heavy on the Magick
Cover art
Developer(s) Gargoyle Games, Ltd.[1]
Publisher(s) Gargoyle Games, Ltd.[2][3]
Designer(s) Greg Follis[4]
Royston Carter[4]
Composer(s) Mark Time
Platform(s) Amstrad CPC[2]
ZX Spectrum[2]
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Adventure[1]
Mode(s) Single-player[3]

Heavy on the Magick is a video game for Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum published in 1986 by Gargoyle Games. The game's influences draw heavily from the occult, with the Master Therion in the plot below a reference to Aleister Crowley.[4] To finish the game, the player must invoke numerous demons who are based on their "real" counterparts, e.g. Belezbar is based on Beelzebub.

Plot[edit]

From the instruction booklet:

Axil the Able stood in three inches of stagnant water and surveyed one of the most dismal dungeons he had ever been thrown into… 30 seconds earlier, he was sitting in front of the ox-roast in that famed haunt of the Occult, The Golden Thurible engaged in his favourite pastime of Wizard-Baiting. What a good story Axil was telling — a new one about Therion, a certain moon creature and a rather gullible Elf — really, the sudden silence of his audience should have warned him. The crowd parted as Therion strode across the floor, dangerous in all his ten degrees. Therion raised a twig-like index finger and flung Axil several hundred leagues across Graumerphy, into the dungeons beneath the dreary castle called Collodon's Pile. In the dark twilight, Axil tutted — and then took stock. He was, at least, clothed: he carried a large leather pouch, and on a nearby table, there was a book. The title read as follows: The Net of Gugamon — a grimoire: wherein is contained the proper rites for the Convocation of various Demonly Princes, the procurement of lesser spirits, together with sundry workings, conjurations, manifestations, symbols relating to all manner of Astral Phenomena and so on for several more pages, in the rather turgid style thought necessary for such books. Unfortunately, apart from the title, there seemed to be little more than a rather tattered contents page. But they didn't call him Axil the Able for nothing. So, with a flourish, he marched for the door in search of a way out.

Gameplay[edit]

The player controls the neophyte wizard Axil the Able and must help him escape from the dungeons below the castle of Colloden's Pile.[2] This a keyboard-only game, and uses a set of commands (called "Merphish" in-game) such as the standard north, south, east and west (N,S,E,W) and some additional unique commands such as invoke (I), freeze (f), and blast (b). Conversations with certain friendly characters such as Apex the Ogre are initiated in the following syntax: "[character],[speech]" e.g. "Apex, thanks".

The dungeons are full of dangerous and hostile creatures such as wyverns, goblins and vampires. Axil can defend himself using magic to stall or kill these creatures.[2] Not everyone in the dungeon is an enemy, some inhabitants (such as Apex the Ogre) are friendly unless provoked and can be conversed with.

The dungeon itself is separated into several distinct levels which Axil can travel to and from at will provided he can find the staircases up or down.

Critical reaction[edit]

Reviews of the game were highly positive all round, with the only common criticism being the blocky graphics, which were due to the Spectrum's limited 48k of memory. To reduce the memory impact of the large animated graphics, the programmers blew up single graphic cells to create all the sprites and foreground scenery in the game, effectively reducing the resolution of the graphics but compressing them in memory and so increasing the amount of space available for game content.

The game won the award for best adventure game of the year in Crash magazine.[5] It was also runner-up in the Golden Joystick Awards.[6]

Finishing the game[edit]

The game could be finished in three different ways, each way being of varying difficulty. Expansion packs were planned to continue the adventures of Axil, but these never came to light.

References[edit]

External links[edit]