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The Wizard and Wizball have been kidnapped by the evil Zark. Ready your joystick and prepare for excitement as you try to rescue them in Ocean's new platform game cum adventure game cum shoot-em-up. Sounds weird? It is.

There are no two ways about it, this is a very strange game. Wizkid is the type of game that French programmers seem to churn out with monotonous regularity, but it's better than anything I've seen over the English Channel for a very long time. I'm not saying that it's fundamentally bizarre; it's just a cutesy platform game, but hiding within Wizkid's structure is a mischievous intelligence.

The colourful graphics and irritating tunes that pervade the game simply can't hide the fact that the people who wrote it were having wicked fun. Unheard of! Coders enjoying their work indeed - what is the world coming to! But the benefit to you and I is that we'll enjoy playing it at least as much as they enjoyed writing it, and possibly even more.

Pinball wizkid
You play Wizkid, the son of the Wizard of Wizball. Hold on a second; unless you've got a very long memory you probably don't know what the hell the shoot-'em-up classic Wizball is. Never fear, here at Amiga Format we don't like to leave our readers guessing, so if you glance around these pages you'll find a box explaining just what it's all about.

Your dad, the Wiz, and Wizball have been captured by Zark who is holding them captive in his castle. You have to travel to his island while freeing kittens on the way. If you're successful, you'll face a final showdown with Zark and have the chance to liberate your parents so everyone can live happily ever after. But if you fail, the Wizard and Wizball will remain incarcerated until you improve your playing technique.

It gets even more complicated when you discover that Wizkid isn't just a simple platform romp. There are huge great gobbets of adventure/role-playing game lurking in there too.

Acid casualties
The playfields are themed quite strangely - traveling towards the castle is sometimes taking a strange, LSD-fuelled trip. Along the way you meet a host of cute-looking animals and people, all of whom prove to be less than friendly to touch. Headbutting the objects on the screen can help you on your quest. They are easily dislodged and when they hit the little unicycling clowns or the multi-coloured butterflies (see what I mean about weird) it splatters them most effectively. And this is just the easy bit!

If you can get one 'thing' to hit more than one creature, a bubble is created. If you hare around the screen and manage to collide with the bubble, it will burst to create a musical note. If you get enough notes to fill the stave at the top of the screen, the tune shown by the notes is played. I did tell you it's a strange game, didn't I?

Not all the bubbles contain notes, however. Some have clown's noses in them and some have sets of false gnashers. If you burst a 'nose' bubble you will gain the ability to 'juggle' dislodged scenery on your head. This may sound like a superfluous talent, but it can prove very useful. You see, on some levels there is a short supply of things to headbut at the nasties, so being able to keep once piece of debris going for a while can be very useful.

On some screens you can just dislodge an item and sit there with it bouncing on your head until all the baddies run into it and expire. And when you are juggling things, you can throw them anywhere you choose by moving the joystick in the desired direction.

The false teeth, or thunderchoppers as they're called, are almost as useful. When possessed of a pair you have the ability to pick up (in your teeth, of course) any item of scenery just by pressing fire as you headbut it. Once you've picked something up, you can move around the screen with it in your grasp until you are in the best position, then let go of the fire button and bomb the baddies.

Both of the extra powers take a little getting used to, but soon you'll have developed a preference for one or the other. After that, playing the game without the power-up will seem like a real chore. To help you get the hang of using the power-ups, the first level of the game is a training school, where a character called B.D. Snail teaches you the basics of the game's control method - do pay attention, you'll need the skills soon enough.

Life's great adventure
It gets even more complicated when you discover that this isn't just a simple platform romp. There are huge great gobbets of adventure/role-playing game lurking in there too. When you have completed several screens of a level you will have created and burst enough bubbles to play a tune, at which point the notes will fall from the stave at the top of the screen and rain down as money. Collect the money as it falls - if you let a coin bounce more than a few times on the bottom of the screen it disappears.

Once all the money has gone, you will be presented with the shop screen. Make sure to buy items with care: some are useless and if you fill your pockets with them you'll have no room left for the more useful trinkets.

After you've bought everything, or spent all your money, you can choose to exit to either the head or the body. Exiting to the head will take you back into the game - fine if you need to earn more money, but exiting to the body is what it's really about. The arcade platform bit just allows you to make the moolah, but to have any chance of completing the game you have to spend it wisely and then use your powers of reason and logic so you can use the things you've bought in the best possible way.

Now hold on a second, we're not talking a Secret of Monkey Island-level adventure here! If you don't have a particular object, Wizkid will give you some pretty big clues. So big, in fact, that they include showing you a picture of the object you need - you don't require an 'A' level in role-playing games to stand a chance in this outing.

The secret screens and little scenarios you can get into by exiting to head are often hilarious and, although you could feasibly finish the game without going via these routes, it is well worth it just for the extra fun you'll have. Almost every level has a secret screen to access and most have more than one. The only exception seems to be the 'Ghost of Wizkid Past' level, but you never know, it might just be that we haven't found it yet.

The secret screens aren't the only subgame elements. Every so often, apparently at random, you will be given an option to do a crossword for points. Give it a whirl, you don't lose anything if you fail. Each crossword is themed to the level you are on at the time, but be warned! They are very difficult ant the time limits are short.

Amazement arcade
The action and adventure continues through nine (increasingly difficult) levels until you have finished the main part of the game.

Now you have to rely on how well you have done so far to help you with the final showdown: a boat race to Zark's island. Your crew is made up of the kittens you have released throughout the game, and not enough kittens means not enough speed. Zark will be able to beat you to his castle and pull up the drawbridge - at this point it's 'game over' time and back to the beginning.

If you have a powerful enough team to make it to the castle before Zark then you must battle him at a game of his choice. I can't really see why Wizkid doesn't do the decent thing and run through him with a sword so the Wizard and Wizball can be liberated, but that's not the way it goes. I'm not going to say too much about the final encounter, except that you will need as much money as you can get. Oh, and a great love of classic arcade games wouldn't go amiss either.

With Wizkid (and Parasol Stars) Ocean have released two great arcade games in as many months. It makes you wonder why they keep putting out lame film licences when they can produce software of this quality. But they only produce what they think they will sell, and it's you and I who do the buying.

So rather than gnashing and grinding on about how crap Terminator 2 was why not go out and buy some quality software like this instead? You know it makes sense.

Wizkid: Sensible Software's John Hare

We asked John Hare, of Wizkid programmers Sensible, what possessed them to write such a bat's-arse game. He had this to say: "Because we used to write games like that all the time, but they weren't commercial enough. We knew we could get away with Wizkid because of Wizball's reputation. You don't often get that much opportunity to experiment with new ideas. For example, what can you do with Mega lo Mania, or Sensible Soccer that's really new? With a game like Wizball, you've got the freedom to decide what you want. It's not hard to come up with crappy game ideas, but it's harder to do something more interesting."
AF: How long did it take?
JH: "Two bloody years!" But Chris Yates, the other half of Sensible, enjoys splitting hairs: "23 months!" he cries from the background.
AF: What's next?
JH: "Well, we're not doing another Wiz game for the foreseeable future [mind you, Wizkid was nearly six years after Wizball]. That's not to say it's dead, but not for a while. We're having a rest!"

Wizkid: Sensible Software's John Hare

A trip around Wizworld. These are the levels Wizkid has to complete:

  1. Sunset Wizovard: A bit of a cruise, this easy.
  2. Ahoy Wiz Maties: An underwater adventure - get the oxygum.
  3. Mount Wizimanjaro: In the heart of the volcano - choose the right door.
  4. Elementree My Dear Wizkid: Don't get stumped by this level.
  5. Ghost of Wizkid Past: The vampires in this level are very difficult to beat.
  6. Wizkid and the Wizball Mystery: A bit of a shoot-em-up to keep things exciting.
  7. Wizkid Goes to the Circus: Prepare yourself for some death-defying stunts.
  8. Wizkid Meets Dog Girl: What did this poor girl do to deserve such mockery?
  9. Jail House Wizfirst Level: Crack the shell to reveal vast riches - you'll need 'em.

If you collect enough bubbles to play a tune, you will be transported to the shop screen. In each shop you can buy items that will be of use in your quest for kittens and diamonds. That is, provided you have collected enough money.

Wizkid: Shop Screen

If you choose the 'exit to body' item from the shop, you will be presented with the current level screen with no floating 'scenery' on it. It looks pretty dull at first, but if you've bought and collected the right things on the way through the game, you'll discover that you can do things and go places on the screen. Let's take a look at just some of these 'secret' levels:

If you take a carrot, you can take a donkey to water...

...but you can't make him swim. You'd better jump for it.

Pink! You're in the ladies, sunshine! The gents is next door.

Ooh! Look at that, it's a red diamond. Pick it up.

How much is the doggie in the window? Jump on the woof...

...and into the wizroom. There's something to collect. Find it!

In the circus, just light the blue touchpaper... and bang!

Down below the circus ring there's a surprise in store.

How handy. A wizkid-sized hole to climb through.

Gosh, I'm sure that huge pile of cash will come in handy.


A long time ago, Ocean brought out a game called Wizball. It involved a Wizard, his friend, Catelite, and a malevolent force called (funnily enough!) Zark.
The Wiz lived on a colourful planet called Wizworld, but the evil Zark had turned the whole world into drab shades of grey. So the Wiz invented an amazing bounding sphere which he released on to the surface of Wizworld to defeat Zark and restore all the colours.
It sounds just as weird as Wizkid doesn't it? And it almost was. One thing's for sure, it was an excellent variation on the horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-up.

Wizkid logo

Vor fünf Jahren gab es am 64er mal ein Kultspiel namens "Wizball", dessen Amigaversion dann ziemlich in die Hose ging. Nun hat Sensible Software den Nachfolger programmiert...

... und der ist gottlob spritziger ausgefallen. Der kleine Wizkid ist mit drei Bildschirmleben ausgestattet, die sich nach jeweils fünf Feindberührungen von ihm verabschieden. Damit muß er neun Level durchstehen, und das geht wiederum auf zwei Arten: Im "Kopf-Modus" schubst er die im Bild verteilten Symbole vom Screen, die bei ihrem Absturz oft gleich noch einige der herumflatternden Gegner mit ins elektronische Nirwana reißen.

Neben Punkten bringt das auch Geld, für das man sich in den Shops Extraleben und nützliche Gegenstände kaufen kann. Außerdem ist in den Geschäften der "Körper-Modus" zugänglich, bei dem sich Wizkid von einer "PacMan"-artigen Kugel in ein Männchen verwandelt, nur halt mit einem "PacMan"-Kopf.

In dieser Gestalt muß er diverse, allesamt recht simple Rätsel lösen, als Belohnung winken gelegentlich sogar Ausflüge in andere Level. Sollte man in einer Runde mal total versagt haben, darf man sein Glück an einer schlichten Scrabble-Variante versuchen.

Technisch gibt es eigentlich nichts zu meckern: Stick-Steuerung und Kollisionsabfrage wurden perfekt gelöst, die drollige und kunterbunte Grafik ist absolut ruckelfrei animiert, und die Soundbegleitung (Musik & FX) kann ebenfalls überzeugen. Auch an haarsträubenden Einfällen, wie etwa grimmigen Wachhunden, die am stillen Örtchen Zeitung lesen, herrscht kein Mangel; bloß mit der Langzeitmotivation sieht es halt nicht gar so toll aus. Der Schwierigkeitsgrad ist eher niedrig angesiedelt, und die Gags kennt man irgendwann auswendig - so gut sie auch sind. (pb)

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It's official - Sensible's latest is deeply dippy enough to turn even the most professional of game reviewers into a space cadet. Imagine, then, what it could do to Mark Ramshaw...

Hello, good evening, and welcome. Today, we'll be charting the progress of young Wizkid, as he undertakes perhaps the biggest challenge of his life. Mark Ramshaw, our man on the spot takes up the story:

Mark Ramshaw: ...and then he said, "A round of applause for the donkey". Hahaha... Er, what? Oh, we're on air. (Sorry.)
(Ahem). Hello, this is Mark Ramshaw at Wizworld Boot Camp - current abode of Wizkid, son of famous guy-on-the-rebound and international playboy. Mr Wiz Ball. With me here is drill sergeant BD Snail. Can you tell me Mr Snail, just why has Wizkid enrolled in Boot Camp? Isn't he still a little too young?
BD Snail: To train himself for a special mission, sir! Yes, he is younger than our normal recruits, sir! But he's got a lot of ability for his age, sir!

Mark: And can you tell me about this special mission?
BD Snail: I think you better ask young Wiz about that, sir! Ah, here comes the young recruit now, sir!

Mark: Ah, Wiz, hello. I'm Mark Ramshaw from AMIGA POWER. Can you tell me about your special mission? (That's right son, just talk straight into the microphone.)
Wizkid: My parents - that's Wizball and the wizard of course (! - Ed.) - have been kidnapped (whimper). It was the nasty mouse Zark that did it. He's really bogus, and I'm going to make myself big, clever and strong (just like my dad), and go smash his face in.

Mark: And can you tell our readers just what your Boot Camp training involves?
Wizkid: Well, I'm learning to smash these bricks, which is really fab. And when baddies are near, I can knock the bricks onto their dumb heads (tee-hee). And if I get my special red nose I can bounce the bricks on my head, so I can use the same ones again and again. Or even better, I can get some teeth (giggle) and the catch and carry the bricks. Thunderchoppers (that's what we call them) are really skill, 'cos then I can really aim the bricks at the bad guys, y'know?

Mark: Right Wiz, here you are on Sunset Wizovard. What's your plan?
Wiz: It's a really sound plan, that's what it is. Y'see, there are like nine areas which I've got to fight through, using all my really ace moves 'n' stuff. So I reckon if I beat them bad guys and collect the note bubbles which they drop (nah, I don't know why they do that either), then I can make a tune and collect some extra pocket money.

Mark: Pocket money?
Wiz: Yeah, then I can buy some fab gear to go exploring, and find the cats (they're pals of Nifta, who's a really fab 'n' ace friend of mine).
Mark: Cats?
Wiz: Now, a Wizkid's got to do what a Wizkid's got to do. Wish me luck, mister.

An Amiga based mind-altering substance

Mark: And off he goes, as the sun dips down over the mountainous horizon on Sunset Wizovard - ducking, diving, weaving and performing headers and even old Joe Jordan would be proud of. For such a young player, our Wiz is a remarkably skillful little mover. He's not half as green as you'd expect. (Except he is, if you see what I mean). Watch as he roundly whips those evil (?) butterflies with those huge yin-yang (??) symbols. What a pro. And in no time at all, he collected enough cash to pop to the shop and buy himself a cute little pair of legs and a newspaper. So, what now Wiz?

Wiz: Well... (snigger).
Mark: Well what?
Wiz: No, I'm mean I'm going to go down the well. It'll be well sound, just you wait and see. I'll winch the bucket up like so, and climb in, then down I go. Catch you later, dude.
Mark: Good luck, Wiz. And there he goes. I'll wager there're male and female toilets down there (don't ask me why, it's just a vibe thing). Now, if he can somehow clear the blockage in the volcanoes, and collect any objects lying around, I think he'll be ready to move on.

While he does that, though, let's take time out here to marvel at the beauty of this place. It may be menacing, but it sure looks nice. And the acoustics are just perfect for that rousing music we can hear wafting across the Wizovard. And what's this? Here's Wiz clambering out of the well, even as we speak. In his hands we can definitely see a can of coke, which I'm sure will come in handy at some point, and it looks like he's heading over to ring that bell. What next, Wiz?

Wiz: I'm going to go for the bell, like so.
Mark: Lookooout!
Wiz: Wow! Who would have expected a toilet shed to drop from the skies? Like (giggle) banging, man!

Mark: Hey Wiz, why not open that shed door?
Wiz: I know, why don't I open that shed door?
Mark: Sigh.
Wiz: (Knock knock). Nobody's answering. I'll just (snigger) open the door and take a peek inside. Eek! It's a ravenous dog! (Slams door.)

Mark: Try the newspaper, Wiz. You never know.
Wiz: Yeah, fab idea. If I put the newspaper through this letter box, and try opening the door again. Yuck! The dog in on the toilet, AND he's reading the newspaper. Gross. Still, it might mean I'll be able to sneak past the ravenous beastie now. Let's try again, shall we?
Mark: And there he goes, where he'll appear nobody knows. I'm off to the next island in Wizland. Join me, and Wizkid (if he makes it) after the news...

Mark: So here we are at the Jail House Wiz island. Tell me, Wizkid, just how tough has it been so far?
Wiz: It's been well 'ard, mister. I've been underwater, in volcanoes, I've been flying, I've been killed and re-incarnated. I've even been in space, fighting waves of nasties. I had a laser gun an' everything - it was wicked, y'know? And I learned so much. Like, it really oays to save up and buy everything possible, 'cos you never know when you'll need it. I've found that unless you wipe out all the baddies and collect the money, it takes ages to make any progress. And it pays to explore, y'know what I mean?

Mark: Quite. So what next? The battle isn't over - you still face terrible odds.
Wiz: I know, mister. But I've been getting all the cats, so when I get the boat over to Zark's island, they can hep me row. Somehow I think I'll need their help, 'cos sometimes (sniff) I think I'll never rescue my parents.

Mark: I see. Well Wiz, it just remains for me to wish you good luck. I think we've taken enough photos for our feature. Thanks for letting us follow you on your daring mission. Take care now.
Wiz: Just one more thing, mister.
Mark: What's that?Wiz: This is for a photo feature in the next issue of AMIGA POWER, yeah?
Wiz: Can you send me a copy? It's my favourite.
(One more review like that, Ramshaw, and either I go or you go. - Ed.)

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Just because you're called Sensible Software it doesn't mean you've got to put out boring games. Steve Keen looks at the slapstick sequel to the legendary Wizball.

It's been five years since Wizball was thrust on to the games-playing world. The original was praised for its addictivity and playability, and even today it still holds up well against recent releases. Unfortunately, though, Sensible never wrote the Amiga version of Wizball, and as a consequence the conversion - whilst still playable - wasn't all it could have been.

With a totally revised gamestyle, Sensible Software hope to put that right with their sequel, Wizkid, and amalgamate the old with the new for a modern day classic.

Wizard, Wizball and Nifta the Cat have been imprisoned in the turtle dungeon somewhere on Wiz Island. Fortunately, their recent offspring, Wizkid, escaped and, recruiting the player as his co-pilot, embarks on a mission to rescue them.

There are nine levels to play through on Wiz Island, and each accommodates two different styles of gameplay: arcade and puzzle. It is possible to finish the entire game without touching on the puzzle element at all, but it isn't half as rewarding.

The arcade sections consist of five insect-infested screens. Taking control of a disembodied head, the basic idea is to clear the area's rogue creatures by knocking a multitude of blocks and other objects into them. There are only a limited number of blocks which can be used, though, so a little thought is needed when aiming your shots.

The projectiles hang in mid-air and, once touched, will fly off in all directions (Breakout-style), eradicating everything they touch. If you use up all the blocks and there are still monsters left, though, you'll pass on to the next screen and must return for another crack later. On the other hand, should you clear the waves, you will be rewarded with a liberal smattering of bouncing coins which must be collected before they disappear - and this is often more frustrating than the game itself!

From time to time, bubbles containing musical notes appear and float around the screen. These are thrown whenever an alien is killed, and, when collected, add to a music score located at the top of the screen. When all the colours and spaces have been filled on the sheet, a tune plays and the notes rain down exploding into golden coins.

Other globules contain chompers which let Wizkid grab an object and throw it accurately at a nasty. Some hide a clown's red nose which allows the hero to bounce falling blocks off of his head and direct it towards a target. With a little skill and practice you can wipe out an entire screen with a single block, as it rebounds all around and comes back to you for another shot.

After the downpour of coins, a shop menu appears. Initially, such items as a carrot on a stick, a newspaper and a flying scarf seem useless to your quest, when they are actually vital to the completion of the game. Also included in the menu are the 'Head' and 'Body' icons. The head is strictly reserved for the arcade sequences, but the body opens up a new element to the gameplay. With this command, Wizkid is made completely mobile and can explore and interact with the screens he can normally only fly around.

The secret of success here is one of trial and error and complete vigilance. As Wiz walks slowly around the screen, your attention could be drawn towards, say, a flashing bulb which appears in the top right-hand corner. This indicates there's something to be done at this location. For an action to take place you'll invariably need one of the objects from the shop. If you haven't got the required piece, you can reenter the shop by summoning the shop balloon. Simply hold down the fire button and catch it as it drifts above you.

Surprisingly, the element of discovery has not been included and when you reach a part of the game necessitating an object, the computer automatically selects the correct items removing any aspect of trial and error.

Overall Wizkid gives the impression of a game aimed at the younger player - there's even a tutorial given by a snail at the beginning to show you how to play. The graphics are attractive and exceedingly colourful, but pretty simplistic. However, it's in the gameplay department where Wizkid excels.

The difference in style and presentation that Sensible have opted for with the game works extremely well. With all the different paths and sub-games included, it's possible to spend hours enjoying one aspect of the game before discovering another part is just as much fun. A good entertaining game with plenty of surprises.

SUB ROUTES Puzzle solving is very rewarding as most actions are a catalyst for a piece of animation. Failure to finish a title screen will present you with the option to win some extra money in a Scrabble contest with the computer. Here, you must place a series of given words on the board and lock them together. There's only twenty seconds to do it in, and some of the words just don't seem to want to link together!

Wizkid logo

In keeping with his ability to commune with vegetables on a deep and meaningful level, we gave MICHAEL HORSHAM Sensible Software's vaguely vegetable WIZKID (he looks like a pea with lips) to review. We hoped that this veggy obsession would enable him to give a well-balanced onion... er, sorry... opinion of the game.

AmigaWizkid, the hero of this multi-layered effort, has a bit of an odd family background. His dad is none other than Wizard, who inhabited Sensible Software's previous smasheroo, Wizball. Wizard's dalliance with the small pea-green, head/ball/vegetable pod-type object that zoomed around on that game has spawned Wizkid, also a small, green pea-ish thing, but with additional powers and a multi-levelled adventure to work his way through.
Wizkid works as a sequel to Wizball and the idea is to rescue mum, dad and Nifta the cat from the evil Zark (who has kidnapped them and stuck 'em in a prison on an island).

Fans of Wizball will be pleased to know that there is much joystick-induced zooming around too - particularly in the different modes, which number all of two.

Wizkid is an alright kind of game if you like shoot 'em ups with a vaguely arcadey feel and bags of different screens and sub-games to keep you entertained. But, truth to tell, it didn't look as though the game was quite, well... hard enough to keep you enthralled right up to the point where you rescue your last kitten. Having said that, the game is highly playable and therefore addictive in a funny kind of way.

An initial complaint voiced by some players was that the screens in 'Head' mode are far too busy, but when playing the game it swiftly becomes clear that that's where some of the attraction of Wizkid lies. There's always something going on, and the animation and graphics are crisp and sharp.

Wizkid's vaguely rude antics often raise a titter or two, or even three. The whole thing makes for an absorbing and playable game.

Mode Number 1: 'Head' Mode
Not particularly surprisingly, the 'Head' mode sees Wizkid as little more than a green, vegetable-like mobile head.
Mode Number 2: 'Body' Mode
In this mode Wizkid gets a body and is able to play games and levels which would be beyond him if he were just a head. Most of them involve walking around (which, as you well know needs legs). And a body to attach them to as well.
Throughout the game, in various ways, Wizkid is encouraged to collect money to buy things in the shop which in turn help him to solve the various 'puzzles' he'll encounter. We call them 'puzzles' because, bizarrely, the screen gives you the solution (which takes a bit of the toil out of working out what to do).

The whole 'killing things' operation on this slicky wizzo Wizkid thang is done by nudging blocks, TVs, bags of nuts, bricks and assorted other things with the head in 'Head' mode. They then bounce and fly around the screen - when the screen is cleared of nasties, a 'golden shower' rains down upon your pea-like head and the money collected can go towards buying things from the shop. Oh, and at the end of each level a kitten appears - collect him and move on up towards your destination.

Sub-games are a big feature in the world of Wizkid and they include such delights as going to the toilet, a version of Scrable™ (which isn't because it use whole words) and an entertaining version of that old coin-op classic, Asteroids.


Unlike the pees on your plate at teatime, Wizkid is able to perform some nifty tricks by acquiring a red nose, allowing him to juggle weapons. He can also get teeth which allow him to grasp any given block and then ratehr feebly attack any marauding butterfiels or penguins or any of the other unnameable nasties which fly around the screen in formation and try to gotcha.