Wizball logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Price: £24.95

It is not every day you take your cat out to collect paint, now is it? Well, not unless you are a wizard with a cat called Nifta and you live on Wizworld. Once a lively, colourful place, Wizworld is now drab and grey and not very much fun really. The evil Zark and his nasty sprites are responsible for stealing all the colour and, computer game scenarios being computer game scenarios, it is up to you to put it all back.

Wizworld is split into eight levels stacked like a sandwich with Level One as the bottom slice of bread. Taking control of the Wiz in his Wizball you have to negotiate the landscape features, shooting aliens and collecting the pearls left behind. Each pearl collected advances the highlight through the icons at the top of the screen, and a quick wiggle on the joystick activates the feature. It is wise to collect the thrust and anti-grav first as they make the Wizball more controllable.

The ball is initially tricky to control, requiring left and right hand spin to determine its direction of bounce. The next most important icon to activate is the Catalite, as Nifta can collect the droplets of colour, formed when the blobs are shot. Holding down the fire button transfers control to the Catalite, allowing it to buzz around the screen, leaving Wizball stationary and vulnerable. But the cat is basically expendable - you can always collect some more pearls and activate another cat on its demise. Other useful functions include increased firepower, a smart bomb and a shield.

Each level requires three colours to complete it, and this usually involves mixing differing proportions of red, green and blue - the three available colours. A cauldron at the bottom right of the screen fills with the target colour as you collect red, green and blue droplets, and its up to you to collect the correct amounts. When the cauldron is full you enter a bonus stage in which you get to shoot some more aliens and possibly earn an extra life, and then it is a quick stint in the Wizlab where the Wiz puts the colour collected back into the landscape and Nifta drinks milk to replenish his nine lives.

But it is not all daubing colour willy nilly. The aliens get nastier as you get nearer to colouring in Wizworld, and not all of the colour droplets are what they seem. Catching a purple droplet sends the cat mad and you lose control, while a light blue droplet results in a Filth Raid where police ships zoom in for the kill, sirens blaring. Black droplets turn out the lights, and the only way to see again is by shooting all of the aliens on a level. Fortunately there are two helpful colours - the white droplets give extra lives, and a grey one can give Nifta 128 lives.

There is not really much point in making comparisons between the original 64 version and this Amiga incarnation, although I would say the 64 version has the edge. Peter Johnson has produced a marvellous conversion of an exceptionally good game, enhancing certain aspects, such as the graphics, without detriment to the gameplay. The Filth Raid is now a superb interlude complete with sampled siren.

The music is good, but I prefer the more psychedelic nature of the original - it somehow suits the bizarre concept much more than this supermarket stuff. Anyroad, Wizball on the Amiga is a classy enough piece of software in its own right; beautifully presented and extremely playable.