Alchemist (video game)
Screenshot of Spectrum version
Alchemist is a computer game developed by Ian Weatherburn for the ZX Spectrum and released by Imagine Software in 1983. It is an action-adventure video game in which the player controls an alchemist who may shape-shift into a golden eagle.
Alchemist was authored by Ian Weatherburn and Paul Lindale, and was Imagine's first arcade adventure. This release was also the first piece of software to be released on a gold-coloured cassette and box.
The player controls a skilled alchemist, who has been summoned to defeat an evil warlock. The game takes place in the warlock's castle, with the objective of finding four pieces of a magic scroll. This will allow the alchemist to use the "Spell of Destruction" to defeat the warlock.
The alchemist can transform into a golden eagle, requiring the use of spell energy. Transforming between the two is essential to completing the game: The alchemist can hurl lightning bolts and other spells, but the eagle form is required to negotiate steep hills or drops. The alchemist can only carry one item at a time and food needs to be found during the game to keep stamina levels up. Movement, bumping into objects, or transforming depletes stamina. Fighting monsters also reduces stamina although this can be mitigated by carrying an axe or sword.
Alchemist was critically well received on release. Its atmosphere and play style drew comparisons with Atic Atac. Sinclair User highlighted Alchemist's cartoon graphics and storyline. CRASH praised the game's presentation, graphics and "spooky organ tune". While the exploration of the castle was a draw for one reviewer, overall opinions about the game's addictiveness was mixed. In CRASH's 1984 retrospective, it was felt that the graphics in Alchemist, whilst detailed, had not aged well. The jerky scrolling, poor keyboard layout and lack of replayability were also criticised. Your Spectrum highlighted the alchemist character's graphic, and his eagle transformation animation.
- "Crashback". CRASH. Newsfield (8): 67. September 1984.
- "Soft Centre". Sinclair User (24): iii. March 1984.
- "Reviews". CRASH. Newsfield (2): 13. March 1984.
- "ZX Spectrum Software". Your Spectrum. 4 (3): 70. March 1984.