The unbearable lightness of spell casting

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Do you think you're pretty smart, do you? Smart enough to out-wizard McDuffin, the greatest mage in the Western Kingdoms? He's been having a little bit of difficulty with his experiments at transmitting spells over long distances.

As every student of life knows, there are three types of matter: reading matter, doesn't matter and old grey matter. Unfortunately it is in the department of the latter that the old wizard is deficient - he needs someone to help direct his spell casting activities.

Spell-casting over long distances can be a bit tricky, as we all know. No sooner have you conjured and impressive maelstrom of magic to defeat a rival at a neighbouring castle, than it runs into some itinerant gnome twixt A and B and spends its force.
Now, it is widely held that spells travel in a straight line, rather like a beam of light. The corollory to this is that a beam of spell can be redirected by means of mirrors and so forth. This is what the old wizard is set to test.

Setting up an elaborate array of mirror-bearing gnomes and assorted household objects, he aspires to achieve mastery of remote spell-casting. The softly spoken magic spell must pick up all the magic ingredients, located in effervescing magic cauldrons, before making its magic way to the magic door. Direction of the beam is controlled by making the gnomes change the angle of their mirrors.

Some obstructions are to be negotiated, like the polarisers which allows spells to pass through at one angle only, whereas some are to be completely avoided, like the odd bomb lying around the place. It is also to be appreciated that feedback is highly undesirable because the old duffer-cum-wizard is prone to overheating.

Other things to watch out for are walls of ice, amoebas, prisms and evil gnomes who have an appetite for cauldrons. Extra fuel can be picked up - old McDuffin can't keep churning out forever without assistance.

The puzzles get progressively harder, up to level 50, after which point you are expected to design your own. They vary in style from being mad dashes against time to the sort of logical enigma that could even perplex a reviewer.

The more cunning of you will have already noticed that this is in fact the sequel to Deflektor, dressed up with a bit of Pratchett.
Graphically it is a lot more cute and friendly, with some nice animated touches, though with a game such as this, frills mean very little when the old cogs of cognition are revolving. The puzzle is all. In that respect Mindbender excels.


Spieglein, Spieglein auf dem Screen:

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Einfallspinsel ist gleich Ausfallswinkel, oder wie war das doch gleich? Wer im Physikkurs gepennt oder Schiffeversenken gespielt hat, wird es bei Deflektor II nicht gerade leicht haben!

Der erste Teil der Computerknobelei konnte vor gut anderthalb Jahren viel Lob einheimsen, da erscheint eine verbesserte zweite Version geradezu zwingend. Regierte bei Deflektor I noch die kalte Techno-Atmosphäre eines Laserlabors, so hat man sich diesmal für ein schmuckes Zaubererverlies entschieden. Ihr dürft dabei die Rolle des weisen Magiers Gregor McDuffin übernehmen, der dummerweise keine Kerkerschlüssel besitzt. Glück im Unglück: Es gibt ja noch den guten alten Zauberstrahl, sowie eine Heerschar kleiner Wichte mit drehbaren Spiegeln, um diesen zielgenau zu dirigieren.

Nun wäre es recht billig, den Zauberstrahl einfach nach obengenanntem Naturgesetz auf den Ausgang zu lenken, oder? Darum haben die Programmierer noch ein paar Hürden eingebaut: In jedem Raum stehen (tüktisch angeordnet) einige brodelnde Hexenkessel herum. Euer magisches Licht muß alle Teufelstöpfe atomisieren, bevor es den Ausgang öffnen kann. Um der Sache noch mehr Pep zu verleihen, wurden dem Programm zusätzlich Dutzende von Lichtweichen, Glühbirnen, Zauber-Ballons, Sensor-Bomben, Spezialwände, Granitzwerge und allerlei weitere Fantasy-Utensilien spendiert. Das knapp bemessene Zeitlimit tut dann das seinige, um eine gepflegte Hektik zu produzieren.

Die Programmierer von Deflektor II haben die Grundbestandteile des ersten Kapitels übernommen, mit vielen neuen, neckischen Ideen gewürzt und alte Schwächen ausgemerzt. So muß man sich bleistiftsweise nicht andauernd durch die ersten Levels spielen, da der Computer erkennt, an welcher Ebene man zuletzt gescheitert ist. Zu jedem (!) der hundert (!!) Level gibt es eine eigene Bestenliste für Solo- und Teamspieler, denn neuerdings darf man auch zu zweit (simultan) Spieglein verdrehen. In der Verkaufsversion wird auch ein Leveleditor enthalten sein, der jedoch bei unserem Testexemplar noch nicht lief, weshalb wir zu diesem Thema keine näheren Auskünfte geben können.

Deflektor II wurde mit sehr viel Liebe zum Detail programmiert (alleine der animierte Cursor ist schon eine Wucht!). Gleiches gilt für die sehr farbenfrohe Grafik, auch die zahlreichen Winzsprites sind - wo nötig - butterweich animiert. Was Musik und Soundeffekte angeht, ist das Spiel allerdings eher Schwach auf der Brust. Ein paar digitalisierte Jingles und Geräusche, mehr ist nicht geboten.

Deflektor II gehört zu den wenigen Computertüfteleien, die auf Dauer zu begeistern wissen: Es macht beinahe so süchtig wie das sowjetische "Tetris" oder das antiquarische "Boulderdash". Der Zwei-Spieler-Modus bringt zusätzlich Farbe ins Programm, auch wenn die Präzision der Joystick-Steuerung nicht mit einem Schweizer Uhrwerk oder eben den Maus - zu vergleichen ist. Trotzdem: Ein dickes Lob an die Programmierer! (Franke Matzke)


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Gremlin/ST & Amiga £19.99

Amiga reviewSean: Mindbender is one of those strange games that is practically impossible to pigeon hole. Unless you have one labelled 'bendy beams and mirrors with a magician' games, 'cos that's exactly what Mindbender is.

The object of this game is to bounce the wizard's 'magic beam' (a bit like a laser) around the screen, destroying just about everything it comes into contact with before guiding it into a keyhole to give access to the next level. The beam is directed by making it rebound off mirrors which are positioned round the screen and can be manipulated to bounce the beam in various directions.

There are also fixed prisms and mirrors which tend to make getting the beam where you want it, a little more difficult. It's all mouse controlled, and changing the angle of the mirror is done by placing the pointer over the mirror and clicking it until the beam is reflected at the angle you want.

To begin with the screens are fairly straightforward, and serve more as a gentle guide to what to do rather than actually taxing your grey matter. As you progress however, the puzzles get more and more difficult and become practically impossible round about level 13. There are 50 levels included but if you're the brainy type who solves these fairly quickly, there's a really nifty screen creator and editor.

After sussing everything out, I found that Mindbender is a really entertaining puzzle game, which tests both your speedy reactions and your brain. Surprisingly enough, it's fairly easy to get to grips with, but solving some of the more awkward screens had me almost pulling my hair out. The sound is loud and chunky with some brilliant samples, for example you hear a loud scream when you accidentally hit the wizard. The graphics are rather small but perfectly detailed.

However, I did begin to get a little bored after a few hours play but I expect that there will be many people, disenchanted with the usual type of games available, who will love Mindbender so much they will want to have its babies. This one's definitely for cult status.


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Gremlin, Amiga £19.99

Gregorius Mc Duffin is a bird boffin who conducts experiments in his cellar. But instead of writing an adventure section for Zzap! He is attempting to redirect magic energy beams.

In each of fifty experiments a magician emits an energy beam which Mc Duffin attempts to guide into a receiver, using mirrors to deflect it. Various obstacles block the way and the beam must also be directed through cauldrons and onto lightbulbs to switch them on.

There are two ways of failing: running out of time or overloading (when the beam is directed back onto itself or the magician heat builds up).

Game options in this Deflektor sequel include a two-player mode and level designer.


Phil King Deflektor was one of my all-time favourite puzzle games, and while Mindbender isn't that different from the original, it certainly hasn't lost the incredible addictive gameplay. The most important addition is the level designer, although creating solvable screens requires some thought. The two-player mode is also fun - with both players trying to achieve the same thing it can get chaotic unless you tell each other what you're doing.
Robin Hogg An aptly named game this one with its simple enough gameplay which rapdily turns horribly difficult. Like Deflektor the fist few screens are no sweat but they soon get really tricky. For puzzle game the graphics are great: when you consider their size they're very well done with some nice animation. So go on, forget the flashy licences and get this superb puzzle game.