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.