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Magic Mushrooms

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Released: 1985

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: BBC Micro

Publisher: Acornsoft

Developer: Acornsoft

Submitted by: Darran Jones

One thing I’ve learnt from watching the excellent House MD is that people lie. All the time. But then I’ve known that for quite a while now. Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of the surly doctor simply reaffirmed it.

Case in point, two old school-friends of mine – who, to spare their blushes, will remain nameless – lied through their back teeth and convinced me that they had made this amazing new BBC computer game called Magic Mushrooms, or ‘Fruity Frank’ as they liked to call it.

There I was, 12 years old, sitting in friend A’s messy bedroom and watching in wonder as he guided Fatman (as they called him) around an intricately designed screen. He made the chunky sprite avoid nasty red meanies, jump over ladders, run across conveyor belts, and all the while he was busily collecting as many mushrooms as possible. I was mesmerised by what was happening in front of me and wondered (not for the first time) if I had been right in asking my nan for an Amstrad CPC 464, when everyone else appeared to have far better computers.

Of course, many, many years later and I now realise that my friends hadn’t created Magic Mushrooms at all, they had just been messing around with its rather spiffy level editor. (I’ve kindly created my own totally unplayable level above for you all to admire.)

I’ve also discovered since, that Magic Mushrooms is far from the high point of the BBC library, and that there are far better platformers available on the underrated computer. And yet, for some reason, I constantly find myself returning to this infuriatingly tough game, if only so I can complete the swine of a level that is Curse Of The Lemming.

I may have been conned into loving Magic Mushrooms – how could I not love any game made by some friends? – and I certainly felt foolish when I finally discovered the truth several months later, but I’d also discovered a brand-new game to enjoy with one of the most entertaining level editors around. How could you possibly get too mad about that?