Warlocka game by Trimark Interactive, and Real Time Associates
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Warlock is loosely based on a schlocky horror movie about a time-traveling evil wizard from the past. This game is also a throwback to the good old days of side-view action/adventure games. The blast-to-the-last action follows the best traditions of platform gaming, but it could have used a little more magic.
On the Warpath
You play a druid hero who must find six sacred stones before the evil Warlock uses them to put reality's lights out. As 'The Hero" you cast powerful, semi-rapid-fire magical blasts and command an all-purpose Orb, which continuously hovers around you.
- To outrace the rising magic fire at the end of the Castle area, don't fight slime creatures. Always grab the 1-up at the beginning of the stairs.
- During the third part of the quest for the fifth Stone, load up on Tremor spells. When you find a Tremor Staff in the water, grab it with the Orb. When you jump up, the staff reappears.
You can shoot the Orb like a boomerang in four directions to grab items or sting your foes. This weapon is the highlight of an otherwise mundane control show. Unfortunately, slightly imprecise directionals put a tad too much adventure into two critical Warlock-whupping skills, the duck-and-roll and the run-and-jump. You often fell into bottomless gaps or inadvertently roll into enemies because Down and the Jump button occasionally don't fire on cue.
Warlock's challenge won't burn your thumbs as much as fry your brain cells. Until you reach the final level, Warlock warriors, such as skeletons and demons, attack in easily analyzed patterns and readily succumb to multiple magical blasts. Most boss creatures took the day off, but the few that are on the job, especially the Warlock, are tough.
Maintaining the challenge curve is left up to devastating end- and mid-level obstacles, such as trying to race up danger-infested stairways ahead of a rapidly rising firestorm. Moreover, the quest for each stone gets successively longer and more difficult.
Warlock's visuals need some pizzazz. The backgrounds are dark, deep, and dangerous looking, but the character sprites appear flat and indistinct. The sounds are sinister, as organ-based music jams ominously. The audio effects are few but fierce.
Practice the duck-and- roll move (press Down and hit Button B). It helps you past some traps, such as the furnaces in the Wizard's Castle.
Warlock won't set your system on fire, but despite the sometimes-frustrating controls, it's a good intermediate adventure with some truly challenging puzzles. However, Warlock is definitely no lock.
During the quest for the fifth Stone, save the Strong Smart Bomb you find in the Graveyard. Later in the mausoleum, you must use it on a tough slime creature.
Too little, too late -- that's Warlock for the Genesis. Its standard walk-n-shoot action might've seemed thrilling back when the Warlock movie was in theaters, but now it plays like a dozen similar games.
Bram Stoker's Warlock
This game bears a strong resemblance to last year's average game Bram Stoker's Dracula. You're a lone mortal searching for an evil monster that has the home-castle advantage. You walk; he materializes and vanishes. You have two main weapons; he has an army of undead cronies. You have better things to do; he's stuck in this game.
- Ride this Levitation Crystal across the chasm to spells and potions. Then ride back and walk to the waterfall's hidden exit.
- When fighting the zombies, try to line up two on the same side so you can take 'em both out with one Magic Blast.
- After you nail a demon wolf attacking from the right, turn left and fire at another one about to attack from off-screen.
The lack of speed and the sameness of the levels are problems. You plod through haunted gardens and castles, stopping to fire at creepy critters ahead. That's it.
While the settings change, the action doesn't. You find helpful spells and crystals, but they lack innovation and eventually become routine. The controls are also ordinary. Thankfully, you scroll through spells without having to refer to a separate menu screen. You can't fire your weapons while on the move, however, and there's a deadly delay between shots. Also, finding health power-ups doesn't automatically restore health -- you tediously select health power-ups from your spells to claim them.
At the beginning of the Grim Garden, use the Levitation Crystal to snag the goodies hidden atop the cliff to the left.
Not only does the plot seem familiar, but you'll also swear you've experienced these graphics and sound effects before. The graphics do convey an eerie mood with sinister background details and moving shadows.
But the beasts you encounter, which include morphing monsters, are too small to generate genuine thrills. Same with the sounds: The droning music, subtle howls, and the Warlock's laugh convey an ambient scariness, but no overwhelming roars or musical crescendos stay with you.
Fans of horror games might war to the final fight.
But if you're looking for a chilling challenge, look elsewhere. Warlock the game is like Warlock the movie: a decent rental on a stormy night. But worth buying? Now that's scary.
- Hit this easy-to-overlook switch outside the elevator to take the elevator up to the Level One exit. Don't forget the blue Protection spell behind you.