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Pyracurse

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Released: 1986

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Hewson

Developer: Mark Goodall / Keith Prosser

Submitted by: Gavin Eke

 If you possess the July 1986 issue of Computer & Videogames magazine, you'll notice three characters staring back through a hole in the wall on it's front cover.

Rather similar to one of the popular Indiana Jones films, it depicts a group of individuals on a race to find Sir Pericles Pemberton-Smythe who's gone missing after going on an expedition to see Xipe Totec's tomb, a merciless God who ruled the Sinu people of South America. So off treks his daughter Daphne, her finance Professor Kite, Legless O'Donnell a newspaper journalist & Frosbie the dog to find the old guffer.

The game begins with the four characters standing outside Xipe Totec's tomb about to embark on their quest. Pyracurse is a mixture of realtime gaming with a menu driven interface. Each of the four characters have different strengths & abilities to solve the various puzzles that you face along your quest.

Daphne is good at finding objects, whilst Frosbie the dog is handy for digging up important artifacts. O'Donnell is the strongest in the party & the Professoris adept at using discovered items at the appropriate time. Patrolling the various tombs are headless bodies, scorpions & floating skulls that look very menacing. If any of these adversaries get too close they will home in on you. Only frantic sidestepping or changes of direction may throw Xipe Totec's guardians off the trail. Certain characters such as Frosbie benefit from their size in avoiding enemy patrols. This is apparent when Floating skulls pursue you but pass over Frosbie because he is too close to the tomb floor.  Where the other characters get a face full of skull chomping action.

Holding down the fire button activates the menu of actions that enable your character to manipulate objects or direct other personalities. Go solo & take control of one character or choose lead mode, directing other members of your party to follow. This is handy for when you find a safe haven which is deep within the Tomb. However, leading other characters can be perilous, since the evil guardians will chase with vigor, often depleting your party members health. Death is not necessarily the end though as your party members remains can be resurrected with special life giving potions which are dotted around the play area. Ensure most, if not all your characters have one of these potions handy so that the others can quickly resurrect them.  

Pyracurse is a tricky but enjoyable game. Knowing which characters are required for particular sections of the game is important. Playing to each members strengths will ensure progress, although, the guardians can be relentless at times with particular mention given to the Floating skulls & their glowing eyes.  The isometric scrolling action is smooth & detailed with each party member well portrayed. However, don't expect award winning animation here. Upon playing the game you will note how quiet it is, with only the odd bleep when acquiring objects. Despite this, the lack of aural accompaniment actually gives Pyracurse an eerie feel.

If one of your rich family members decides that they want to visit an evil gods tomb, try to dissuade them. Otherwise, you might find yourself being chased by bloodthirsty floating skulls & no-one wants that, unless you're a dog!