Magic Boy logo

Izzie Wizzie let's get busy, err... Open Sesame with Magic Boy's staff of power, that or just stick the disk in your drive.

Magic Boy puts you in the unlikely control of an apprentice wizard with the equally unlikely name of Hewlett. Now, little Hewlett is a student at sorcery school and this is the first thing that needs addressing.

It makes sense to me that if you are going to attend magic school you need an entrance qualification. Now, I don't know about you but when it came to decision time at my comprehensive concerning your options. 'O' level magic was not on the list.

English language, maths and even religious education yes, but no insight into the world of arcane knowledge - well not at my working class state run seat of learning.
However, it would be interesting if such a topic was an exam subject because I for one would take it.
Imagine the exam, you walk on to a fanfare of trumpets wearing a patched up cape, top hat and obligatory white gloves (all courtesy of Mr Hoofey). Along side you your gold bikini clad assistant, the beautiful sixth form babe Jane Hedley-Hedley-Smyth-Smyth (she lives on the nice estate).

As the rest of the school look on with mouths gaping wide open, you embark on your first examination trick - sawing the beautiful Jane into segments. However, because of the government cutbacks in education spending, all is not what it should be on the props front. For one, the box into which the sultry Jane must slip her slender self into is courtesy of the second year craft department.

These particular pieces of timber lived their former lives as part of a front gate and the remnants of a sledge involved ina freak downhill accident. But anyway, thanks to the talents of Form 2B, the box is ready on exam day, albeit suffering from chronic dampness and splinters.

A drum roll commences and Jane slides into place, simultaneously your makeshift saw makes its appearance to cries from the crowd. TO be honest, these aren't shrieks of horror at the size of the saw in your hand, but cries of astonishment that you're going to attempt this act with a craft knife from the art department.

As you make your first incision into the jagged slots filed into the box, your unwitting assistant jobs her shapely posterior on one of the many splinters. The next few moments seem to last a lifetime, as Jane jumps in pain the craft knife slips and lacerates her thigh. This in turn dislodges the box which topples sideways to reveal a hollow plinth where the slightly wounded Jane stand sobbing into a pair of dummy legs.

Those fateful few moments have sealed your fate, and put the dampers on your dream of a career in magic. Think, no hope of going prematurely bold, "not a lot" of opportunities for having the worst catch phrases in show business and best of all absolutely no chance of marrying your mutton dressed as lamb assistant.

Anyway, once more there seems to have been a quite major digression from our starting point. To recap, Hewlett is top dog at sorcery school - it's a bit like Fame with wands and cauldrons. He's passed all his exams and pipped the moustachioed David Copperfield to the number one spot despite his impressive vanishing of a jumbo jet up his magic circle.

Despite being Merlin's little pet, things aren't a total bed of roses. You see, one evening Hewlett stays behind to swat up on some book or other. As he rummages through the cupboard where every tidy sorcerer keeps their left over spells, he trips over a trapdoor that leads to the basement.

It's down here that the Grand Wizard keeps a wide variety of crazy magic animals. But not for long, because as soon as they clap sight on the vaguest hint of daylight they bolt for it.

Now I don't know about you, but it seems that the big cheese isn't looking after his pets very well. Keeping them locked up in a subterranean cell it's no wonder they bolted, anyway remember kids - a magic animal is for life not just for Christmas dinner. Hewlett however, is not concerned with living the born free ethic and is more concerned about not getting into trouble with teacher.

To achieve this Hewlett must recapture all of the marauding menagerie and return them to their environment au natural in the cellar.

As Hewlett your search will take you through four main worlds. They consist of Sand Land, Wet World, Plastic Place and Future Zone and strangely enough they all really do speak for themselves when it comes to what kind of environment they are.

Now, each world is made up of 16 levels. This might shatter the illusion of the plot somewhat, but then again we're talking about a platform puzzler and not real life. As you journey around the worlds you are asked to complete an initial eight levels. Once you've done so when you visit for the second time you explore a second set of eight.

To access any of the levels you simply highlight them on the compass screen which clever clogs Hewlett carries around with him.
Basically control of the play is fairly simple and straightforward. All the normal joystick movements push Hewlett in the relevant direction and pressing the Fire button shoots his love wand - they don't call him Magic Boy for nothing you know.

Hewlett's wand has a range of power ups which lengthen, strengthen or spray his shot wider and all help stun the animals.
Once they are stunned simply moving the would be wizard into the stunned creatures results in them being bagged up in Hewlett's magical sack and hence recaptured.

As usual in this form of zap-puzzle-platform scenario there are a number of things in the magic circle.
For one, there are tokens to collect which when completed grant you extra lives. On the downside there are dissolving platforms, sticky blocks, toxic pools and trap squares to be aware of.

Graphically, Magic Boy is very sweet and sugary. With his blonde hair sickly smile and red cape Magic Boy is a dead certainty for a cutesy award. This doesn't say a lot for his big magic wand pretensions, but his snug tunic (which could easily pass as a skirt) does keep it firmly lodged in the right place.

On a more serious note, both the scrolling and animation are really rather nice on Magic Boy and despite my allegations directed towards his manliness the whole feel of the product right.
Playwise, I've never been a great fan of platformers of any kind, but I do acknowledge that they have a massive following among gamers. I also have to confess that I actually enjoyed playing Magic Boy. The control seemed to respond really well and the puzzle aspect of the game made play a lot of fun.

With 64 levels and 32 bonus levels to explore there's a great deal to do in Magic Boy. It's a very friendly and easy to play title with a lot to offer platform lovers.

It sounds good, plays well and it's so annoyingly cute you almost want to retch. Plus, the first few thousand copies feature a free copy of the Cool Croc Twins. What more do you want from a game?

Magic Boy logo

Magic Boy goes by the name of Hewlett (nothing to do with Packard and printers) and is a cute caped character who loves to zap the monsters that roam his worlds with his magic wand.

The reason there are monsters there in the first place is all Hewlett's (no I cannot go on calling him that - it is just MBoy from now on) fault. Staying behind at Sorcery school one night, this little swot let all of the Grand Wizard's creatures out into the magical landscapes surrounding the school. Now if he is not to get in to mega magical trouble, he has got to get all the creatures back in to the dungeon.

Being an ace student, MBoy is quite adept at outsmarting the creepy creatures, but he meets plenty of pitfalls and tricky traps which can prevent him from keeping his perfect pupil reputation.

The monsters come in a variety of species including flying birds, Ghostbusters-like green ghouls which bound around waving their jelly-like arms and an assortment of sharks, fish and crabs with oversized claws.

MBoy's weapons change, as does the direction in which he can shot, depending on which pick-ups he has collected. But he does not actually kill the monsters - he just stuns them and stuffs them into his Hessian sack before he dumps them in the dungeon.

Now the real trick at getting on in this game is using swift sharp movements because on every level you are racing against the clock. Until all the creatures are locked up they will start to escape one by one and you can find yourself whizzing up and down searching for the one that got away.

Jumping about to the tune of The Sailor's Hornpipe, MBoy works his way through four worlds - Sand Land, Wet World, Plastic Place and Future Zone - there are two versions of each world and each has eight levels. Each level is completed by capturing all the creatures, and bonuses can be picked up by stepping on squares which change colour when you land on them.

Littered along the landscapes are the usual fare of features such as dissolving or ice platforms, springs, conveyor belts, sticky blocks and trap squares which are safe to walk on, but if you fall on to them, they are lethal.

In looks Magic Boy is not a ten, it is more like a six, but it looks better than it sounds - the jolly Blue Peter theme tune soon becomes irritating. Its scrolling is smooth, although if you pull back the joystick to check out the lower part of the level and then jump up fast, the scrolling does not always keep up with you.

Magic Boy is fun and difficult enough to offer most games players great value. And a definite bonus in the value stakes is that Empire have packed the funky Cool Croc Twins (AF37, 88%) on to the same disk for free!

Magic Boy logo

Endlich mal was Neues: Ein putziger Held turnt über Plattformen - wow. Um die Originalität vollends auf die Spitze zu treiben, sammelt er auch noch Extras ein und bekommt es mit bonbonfarbenen Knuddelgegnern zu tun!

Alle Achtung, Empires Beitrag zur momentanen Plattform-Mania kommt tatsächlich nahezu ohne eigene Ideen aus. Selbst die Vorgeschichte dürfte Kennern des Disney-Streifens "Fantasia" seltsam vertraut sein: Während der Hexenmeister außer Haus weilt, stellt sein Zauberlehrling allerlei Unsinn an - jetzt sind die magischen Kreaturen los, und der Spieler soll sie wieder einfangen...

Die 32 teils anwählbaren Levels können solo oder (nacheinander) zu zweit durchhüpft werden, wobei man die Gegner mit Betäubungskugeln beschießt, um seine Beute dann ins Fangsäckel zu stecken.

Bisweilen liegen Sammelextras für einen Mehrwegschuß oder Continues am Weg, und natürlich fehlt kaum eines der anderen Genre-Versatzstücke: Geheimräume, Laufbänder, Eispassagen und Sprungfedern.

Zur Ehrenrettung der Programmierer muß aber gesagt werden, daß der unfolgsame Nachwuchs-Magier vor unfairen Stellen verschont bleibt und alle auftretenden Figuren sehr witzig animiert wurden.

Gescrollt wird bloß nach oben und unten, dafür sind die vier Wüsten-, Wasser-, Spielzeug- und Futurowelten niedlich gezeichnet und wissen durch passende Begleitmusik sowie schöne Sound-FX zu gefallen.

Schon wegen des niedrigen Schwierigkeitsgrades sind Neu-Hüpfer hier also recht gut aufgehoben, zudem liegt der Packung das bereits etwas ältere, aber immer noch nette Jump & Run "Cool Croc Twins" bei.

Plattform-Veteranen kennen aber sicher auch diese Dreingabe schon und sollten das Spiel daher großräumig umspringen.

Magic Boy logo

Never trust a smiling crocodile. Especially one bearing gifts. Get it, got it, good.

As part of a laudable, if transparent, marketing ploy, an unspecified number (but I suspect it is a pretty large number) of the initial copies of this game come bundled with a free copy of Empire's earlier Cool Croc Twins on the same disk as the Magic Boy one.

While this is undoubtedly very nice (Cool Croc Twins is not exactly a superstar, but it is original and quite interesting and it sored a reasonable enough 65% back in issue 16), the very facts that (a) Empire feel it necessary to bolster Magic Boy in such a way on its first release, and (b) both games fit comfortably on one disk, set warning bells ringing in my head almost from the word go.
Half-an-hour's play later, there was a four-alarm fire raging.

The basic gameplay concept of Magic Boy is rather less than a million miles away from Rainbow Islands. You climb to the top of a vertically-scrolling platform level, zapping baddies and then (break from tradition here) picking up their stunned bodies, only to immediately drop them again so that they fall off the bottom of the screen into the 'basement' (do not ask why, I would only have to explain the plot to you and then you would get a bit depressed).

It is a sensible enough idea (i.e. ripping off a tried and trusted favourite), but it is a bit tougher to imagine why, almost thee years after Graftgold's classic, someone can release a full-price game in a similar vein, but with programming as rudimentary looking as this.

Titchy graphics, alternately slippery and sticky movement, annoying collision detection, sound effects OR music, you know the drill.
I am sure if Magic Boy DID come on two disks, it would not recognise the second drive, know what I am saying?

Sound effects OR music, you know the drill

But hey, that is hardly fair on Empire, is it? Then again, neither is expecting to fork out £26 on something that has only had half as much effort expended on as it needed, so I guess we are even.

There are nice things in here (the four worlds are each divided into eight stages, which cuts the game up into manageable little bite-size chunks that even a three-year-old could eat without being sick, and there is no shortage of secret rooms and special bonus features and all that sort of stuff), but it is all wrapped up in such a lacklustre, could-not-really-be bothered kind of way that it is all but impossible to see why anyone would want to pay for it.

Unless, I suppose, they were huge fans of Cool Croc Twins, but spilt coffee on their original copy and had not been able to find another one anywhere.

Magic Boy logo


Frantic, frustrating and fun are three words I could use to describe Magic Boy, Empire's new platform puzzler.

The aim of the game is to help Hewlett the wizard's apprentice recapture the magical creatures he's accidentally released. The monsters have escaped into four different worlds: Sand Land, Wet World, Plastic Place and Future Zone.

As each world has eight levels and you visit them twice, Hewlett's going to have his work cut out capturing the escapees in the required time limit.

To aid him in his efforts he has a magic wand and bag. He can zap the creatures with a magical bolt and, while they're stunned, stuff them into the bag.

Pulling down on the joystick at this point will send them tumbling back to their pens at the bottom of the screen.

It's a bright and colourful game with cartoon-like characters and a chirpy, though eventually grating, tune.

The gameplay is tough with the devious level design making for some frustrating action. Some levels have been constructed so that there's only one way to complete them so, should you take a wrong route on one, you'll be unable to complete it.

Although you can restart it you do lose your bonuses that is irritating. On the whole it's been well coded although Hewlett himself moves like he's in treacle.

If you've a high tolerance level and aren't prone to smashing your Amiga every time you lose your rage you'll be okay with this game. Those less evenly tempered will find it induces uncontrollable rages - as the games room at CU Towers can testify. It's hard but fun.