Warlock: The Avenger logo

MILLENNIUM * £24.99 Joystick and keyboard

The wimpiest of magi' will tell you, a castle of demons is a castle which needs clearing out. In the land of Belorn foru demon princes have been summoned by the despicable Acamantor, thus disrupting the equilibrium of a once cool and laidback magic land. The princess keep the castle as a bastion against all things daisy-age, wonderful and good. Your task is to barrel in there and hoike them out.

You're a powerful fellow so it shouldn't be a problem. Frankly, you look like a dwarf in a Captain Birdseye beard who goes around the place on coasters but don't let that worry you.

Gardening at night
The game begins in the gardens atop the demons' tower. They look like pleasantly hedged fields, full of trees and flowers, but they are in fact mazes populated with vile creatures of the night. You can only move in certain directions in your attempts to collect spells from treasure chests, blast demons with said spells, and move on to the next level.

Once you have collected one type of spell from a chest, the evil guding force comes along and blasts it out of existence, so it is important to make sure you choose the right spell for your point in the game.

One of the off-putting things about Warlock is it feels much like Pac Man at the outset. But there's more to it than just rushing around the place destroying things. And even if the controls are a little sticky to start off with, it only takes a few minutes to get used to them.

In sickness or, in sickness
You have to make use of various spells, remembering which routes are safe, and take care of your failing health. The reason your health is in decline is because there's no let up from the barrage of ghosts, wraiths, ralacks, beetles, snakes, slimes and skeletons which are out to make your life a misery. All they have to do is come near you and you can feel your vital juices draining away like some Del Montà passion fruit-juice from a hole styroform cup.

There are two ways of restoring health; either find and cast the Chaos spell, or locate a pentagram and stand in it for a while. Obviously standing still anywhere simply means that the nasties get to breed more freely without your prophylactic wand to stop them.

Boy do they breed. There is no hanging around here. They pop up in front of you, behind you, and even on top of you if you're not quick enough. There is simply no let-up in your quest to get to the lower levels of the castle and do damage to Acamantor himself. Aside from the demons, there are ponds, pools and traps which will keep you on your coasters for a few hours at least.,

Warlock: The Avenger
  1. WATER. A fairly wimpy spell used to deal with your basic grimlies. You'll find loads of them about the place.
  2. FIRE. Going up in the world here. But you still need three to kill a measly ghost.
  3. ELECTRICITY. Still not in the highe reaches of the spell leagues. Two of these will take out a ghost.
  4. CHAOS. To the max with this one. Not only does the Chaos spell destroy everything on screen for ten seconds, it also restores you to health and fitness. It's the one everyone wants. So get it while you can.

Magie im Doppelpack

Warlock: The Avenger logo

Lang, lang ist's her, da machte auf dem C 64 ein Spiel namens "Druid" Furore. Jetzt, mit kaum dreijähiger Verspätung, hat der kämpferische Magier den Weg zum Amiga gefunden...

Gerechterwise muß man allerdings sagen, daß Millennium hier nicht bloß eine normale Umsetzung abgeliefert htat, sondern gleich noch die Fortsetzung dazu: Zu Beginn taucht vor einer unheimlich dahinscrollenden Landschaft ein Magier mit erhobenem Zauberstab auf. Dirigiert man sein Stöckchen zu dem kleinen Schloß im Hintergrrund, startet das Game mit den alten "Druid" Leveln; richtet man es dagegen auf das größere Schloß, geht's direkt zum neuen Teil, eben Warlock - The Avenger.

Im Grunde genommen erinnert das Game stark an "Gauntlet", nur daß die Sprites erheblich größer sind. Man steuert den Hexenmeister auf dem Screen in alle Himmelsrichtungen und bombardiert dabei die Gegner mit Zaubersprüchen in Form von Blitzen und allerlei sonderbaren Symbolen. Zahlreiche Feinde stellen sich der gerechten Sache in den Weg: beispielsweise Käfer, Skelette, Schlangen, Gespenster und kleine Teufel.

Die Zaubersprüche halten aber nicht besonders lange vor, weshalb man immer nach kleinen Schatztruhen Ausschau halten sollte, die in den labyrinthischen Landschaften herumliegen.

Postiert man seinen Helden vor so einer Kiste, wechselt das Szenario, und man darf sich bei den angebotenen Extras bedienen. Wer unter Energiemangel leidet, kann auf Pentagramm-Feldern nachtanken; und in besonders brenzligen Situationen ist es auch mal angebracht, einen kleinen Helfer namens Golem zu aktivieren.

Hat man sich dann brav und tapfer bis zum Ende durchgezaubert, erscheint der Oberschurke Acamantor, um sich mit unserem Hexericht zu duellieren.

Wenn man es alleine spielt, ist Warlock tierisch schwer, vor allem, weil man zwischen den verschiedenen Zaubersprüchen mit den Funktionstasten hin- und herschalten muß. Einfacher wird's, wenn man zu zweit auf Monsterjagd geht (der Kollege kontrolliert dabei Freund Golem), da kommt dann auch echter Spielspaß auf.

Die Präsentation der (acht) neuen Level ist recht ordentlich ausgefallen, alles ist schön farbenprächtig und detailliert gezeichnet. Der alte Teil (ebenfalls acht Level) sieht im Vergleich dazu wirklich alt aus - eine ziemlich grobkörnige Angelegenheit. Aber den Nostalgiker freut's, und der Neu-Magier bekommt gleich zwei Herausforderungen für's Geld. (C. Borgmeier)

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Warlock is the third game in a series which has until now only appeared on 8-bit machines. The first, Druid, was one of a long line of Gauntlet clones which came out around the time of the official Gauntlet licence, and was generally the best received, and was generally the best-received. Although the Amiga wasn't big news at the time, Druid has since been converted and is included in Warlock as an optional introductory level.

Warlock itself is largely more of the same, featuring 8 increasingly tough mazes populated by all the usual social misfits with attitude problems. And, er, that's about it.

The first thing you notice about Warlock is how very similar it is to the original game. The graphics follow exactly the same style, and the gameplay is identical, consisting simply of trudging rather slowly around the scrolling mazes, zapping baddies, collecting useful items, and looking for the way out. In fact, Warlock appears to be less of a sequel to the earlier game than an expansion set, adding tougher levels and different baddies but nothing that you could actually describe as 'new'.

As such, it's a success, proving tricky and pretty engrossing, but is liable to be a bit of a disappointment if you're expecting a genuinely new game.

Someone's made a bit of a cock-up on the presentation front too, as starting a new game entails waiting some 35 seconds for a long picture so painstakingly scroll across the screen and then for the game to think about loading again. Not too terrible in itself, but with only one life (which won't last you very long at all in your first few games) you'll see a lot of this picture, and grow to hate it as I did.

What Warlock does, it does pretty well. If you want a slightly slower paced version of Gauntlet then fine, here it is, and it'll provide plenty of short-term fun. At the end of the day though it amounts to a nothing more than a marginal re-spray of a five year old game, and as such it's very hard to justify the £25 price tag.

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Warlock is an updated and improved version of Firebird's old 64 game, Druid, with an extra eight levels tagged on as a bonus. The game's scenario tells of a terrible invasion which has polluted the once-peaceful land of Belorn. The four demons responsible for the bloodshed have holed themselves up in two towers and your bearded Druid.... sorry, Warlock, has been sent to put an end to their tyrannical doings.

The game opens with an attractive scrolling sequence, with the eponymous hero standing before two towers. These represent the two set of levels, with smaller tower housing Druid's original eight levels, whilst the second comprises eight totally new stages. Once you have chosen which to enter, you are transported to the starting level.

The Warlock is joystick controlled and is initially armed with a limited supply of projectile spells. Punctuating the levels are a number of energy-sapping creatures and the Warlock's path is out line by a series of maze-like walls which ensure that he doesn't wander off course.

In addition, dotted at regular intervals within each levels are a number of strange chests which, when opened, contain spells that are essential to completing the game. As well as extra fireballs and water bombs which can be used to see off the encroaching enemy, the Warlock can collect keys to open locked doors and chests, and protect himself with a faithful Golem (which can be controlled bya second player), and, most importantly, a Chaos Spell which is essential for killing the guardians.

Completing a level is a matter of opening all the chests, fighting off the attacking horders, and eventually scraping through to the exit. Unfortunately, though, the enemy appear so frequently, that the game gets frustrating and the urge to explore is limited. If, however, you do make it through, you then encounter the aforementioned demons who must be killed with the powerful Chaos spell.

With graphics by Ian Harling and Gary Carr, Warlock is a pleasant looking game. The screen scrolls smoothly and the graphics are colourful without being too gaudy; yet because of their 8-bit origins they are far impressive. Likewise whereas Druid impressed 64 gamers all those years ago, games have progressed a lot since then, and this updated version doesn't cut the mustard.

The sixteen levels will last a long time, but due to the game's repetitive nature I doubt whether anyone will bother to play through them all. An average game, Warlock proves that the old ones aren't necessarily as good as we remember them to be.

Warlock: The Avenger logo

Millennium, C64 £10.99 cassette, £15.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Based on the 1986 game Druid, Warlock is a slightly reworked 16-bit conversion with the addition of eight new levels contained in a separate tower accessible at the start. The C64 game is a completely new program based on the Amiga's second tower, and doesn't contain the original Druid game.

The well-written scenario concerns another perfect paradise invaded by evil. Satan's son, Acamantor, has plunged the land of Belorn into eternal darkness and the only slender hop lies with an aged druid known as the Warlock...

Back in '86 Gauntlet was the hottest coin-op, and inevitably a difficult 8-bit conversion with so many players and enemy sprites. Druid adopted a similar top-down view maze approach, with dozens of opponents constantly attacking, but there's just one player. A second player can join in when the golem spell is activated, but he can't fire anything, only throw punches. If you haven't anyone to control the golem, it can be set to follow you, wait or be sent away.

Needless to say, the point of the game is to exit the maze. This usually requires keys found in chests, which can also contain golem spells, paralyse spells, chaos (combined smart bomb and restore energy) and three types of ammo (fire, water and electrical bolts).

Spells are activated via function keys, while each ammo type is of varying effectiveness against the assorted baddies (from snakes to beetles to spiders). Tactics come in when choosing which item to take from a chest as you can only have one. Other items to look out for are pentacles (which restore energy), power-draining tiles and hidden doorways.

Phil King Warlock scrapes an OK head despite the wide difference between the two versions, mainly because the game idea isn't too bad on both formats. There's nothing new in it over the original Druid - it's a mystery to me why Millennium haven't at least made the gameplay more sophisticated for the eight new levels, but I guess there are some Druid fanatics who wouldn't want it any other way. There's a fair old number of creatures attacking, but the Amiga never looks pushed and the Gauntlet-style 'freneticism' is missing. It feels slow-paced, and the tactical element of picking weapons is sadly limited (Lords of Chaos) did the strategy side a lot better).
The C64 version isn't any more sophisticated, and has eight less levels, but there's more of an arcade action feel with the C64 looking as if it's been well used. There's good attention to detail in the monsters and background graphics; the water and lava look nice and there's even an attract mode omitted from the spartan Amiga game.
Robin Hogg 16-bit Warlock is an excellent conversion for the sort of people who hate games changing, hence the druid has only a couple of frames of animation, the backgrounds have minimal detail and gameplay enhancements are hardly noticeable. Ardent Druid fans will welcome it, but not me. The C64 game is much better, making good use of the machine with lots of colour and detail. Unlike the strangely muted colours on the Amiga game, the 64 program is bright and cheerful, making it much more fun to play. It's a tough challenge, and although gameplay isn't that sophisticated it's a reasonable variation on the Gauntlet theme.