Format reviewed: Sega Master System
Submitted by: Lee Tatlock
A lot of NES owners and patriots will tell you that the Master System was the poor man's version of their beloved white block, but before you bother getting into an argument with them remind yourself that you are old enough to own both systems now and each has its own merits, then tell them to piss off. Console wars aside though the good old SMS was a seriously cracking system but due to finicky buyers here and there and Nintendo's prevalence it just didn't pull the audiences it deserved, and as such it still has a slight ill deserved stigma attached to it. I personally adore the SMS and have a great collection of games that I just wish more people had got to grips with back in the day. Fortunately for those poor souls the good ole Virtual Console on Wii now offers a second chance at redemption, but the number of Master System games on VC is still pretty pitiful when compared to the other systems, and most of the titles available, though great, are more than a tad on the obvious side. Hopefully this massive disgrace will be rectified A.S.A.P. so more people can get to grips with rarer games such as Cyborg Hunter, Kenseiden, Psycho Fox and of course the whole point of this review: SpellCaster.
Set in an ancient mystical Japan, and based on some old manga or other I believe, you take on the role of Kane a warrior-monk who is about to get a slap in the destiny glands as he's sent to check out some evil naughtiness that's been going on across the land.
The first thing you'll probably notice is the first person, point and click adventure style set up, but this is only one half of the tasty whole that makes up SpellCasters world. The other half, as you'll soon find out, after talking to your master for a moment, is a side scrolling action game where you will fight demons, spirits, mortal enemies and many, many more denizens of the dark by blasting them with chargeable fireballs. As you reach the end of each action orientated section you will be greeted by more point and click style shenanigans where you will be allowed to do all the usual stuff such as Look, Talk, Use, etc. These screens are usually of a high graphical quality and will gradually offer more opportunity for exploration and puzzle solving utilising the different spells you have on offer.
These two separate halves come together to form a beautiful atmospheric whole that, when combined with controls as tight as a ducks arse underwater, will suck you in until the ultimate conclusion, and a handy, if a little long winded, password system is in place to help you on your journey which is of a decent length.
Bosses range from awesome to so-so but all have cool patterns to learn and eventually tombstone through a wall. Graphically the whole thing is pretty tight – however due to a change in graphics from east to west the main character’s animation is a little weird, I feel, as he’s been changed out of his monk garb into a fruity purple number, but other than that the game is sweet as a sticky, pink, Wham! bar. If I had any gripe at all it would be that I wish there were more variation in the action stage backgrounds but masses of different enemies and awesome adventure locations more than make up for this minor niggle.
So all in all I highly recommend you either grab a copy of SpellCaster for your collection or play it by whatever cheeky means necessary 'cause it's a little beaut'!