Whilst exploring underground caverns you chance upon a deep black pool. A ripple in the mirror-smooth surface draws you closer to the edge – a powerful hand slides out and swiftly drags you under! It is the hand of Thelric, master of magic, plunging you into his strange mythical world of magic and mystery.
It is written in the book of magic that only Thelric has the knowledge which blends time and space into a powerful spell. He will not cast this spell to return you to your own world until you retrieve for him the lost amulet of immortality, without it he will age and die.
He teaches you some useful spells, then you embark on your dangerous quest…
What a douche. Not only does he drag you against your will into his world. But he then has the cheek to ask you to find his amulet of immortality otherwise he won’t send you home. All because he doesn’t want to age and die like the rest of us. To which I know what I would be doing instead.
Repeatedly kicking him in the family jewels and demanding that he sends me back otherwise I will make him wish he was a eunuch.
Putting unreasonable requests to one side you will find that The Master of Magic is a pretty entertaining game. Made all the sweeter by the fact it’s actually a budget release with a £2.99, in 1985 money, price tag from Mastertronic’s M.A.D label.
Graphically and audibly the game belies its budget roots. Rob Hubbard, one of my favourite composers, has done a great job with the soundtrack. Which feels both fitting and atmospheric. The graphics are maybe a little basic but functional. The static images of the monsters and items that you encounter are really well done. It just feels to me like the screen space has not been utilized to it’s full potential. While it’s nice that they have given us a space for the monster portraits, I do feel that this could have just as easily been used for the text description. Thus freeing space for the map to be made bigger. But this is merely a personal aesthetical view. And all in all it’s a reasonable effort.
The controls, however, are a little too fiddly and twitchy. On several occasions I found myself been killed by a spider because I got stuck on a door. This is due in part to having to hit the doors pretty much straight on. Another cause of some needless deaths was because the menu system. While comprehensive for a budget release, and maybe putting some more mainstream titles to shame, was too cumbersome and needed some streamlining.
But these are not game breakers and are easily forgotten. And, on the whole, The Master of Magic is a rare example of a budget title been done right. With a good mixture of atmosphere, challenge and fun. It wouldn’t have been hard to imagine this title been a full price, mainstream release. The only down side are the controls. To which if they had been tightened would have made this game truly amazing. As such I am giving this game a 4 out of 5 rating. Certainly a nice budget title that makes some full priced RPG games look cheap and tacky.