Everyone must know the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, of how the young student always caused trouble with his meddling. Dravion is a student similar to the one in the story. All he's ever wanted to be is a fully-fledged wizard, but he always manages to do something wrong and get into a terrible scrape. It's not really his fault - after all he can't really help being clumsy. But in the world of magic, innocent accidents can have serious consequences.
For too long Dravion ruined the Old Master's spells, making the wrong thing appear or creating spells of his own which caused no end of confusion. The Old Master told him that the next time he makes a mistake he'll be sent to the realm of Jambala. Dravion knows exactly how serious the Old Master is when he says this. He has often heard tales about the mysterious Jambala - of how even strong wizards enter the realm, never to return.
During the casting of his last spell, the Old Master was just at the climax of his incantation when Dravion accidentally leant on a lever which caused the spell to be ruined and the room to be plunged into total darkness. The last thing he remembers is the Master's voice muttering darkly and then blackness. Next thing he awoke in the realm of Jambala!
You must guide Dravion through the seven levels of this magical world searching for the one way that he can escape - the Great Wand. The seven pieces of the wand have been scattered throughout the passages of Jambala, waiting for a wizard to reconstruct them. Dravion must find these pieces and collect clues from creatures behind certain doors in the passages to help him rebuild the wand and escape.
The passages are guarded by a variety of strange creatures, all intent on keeping intruders like Dravion away. All the young wizard has to help him is a bag of magic spell dust to throw at his adversaries, but he can pick up extra weapons along the way. Also en route secret treasure is to be found - useful for bribing information holders or buying weapons. Dravion can find this by inspecting the ground with a hammer stolen from a dead wasp or fly. Yes, it is weird, but that's magic for you!
Even though the platform-based arcade adventure isn't a new idea, there are few enough on the Amiga to make them interesting, Grandslam's release manages to keep the style alive by presenting us with a good looking and playable game in a long-trusted format. It would have been very easy to ruin the idea by producing a simple run-to-the-right time after time banal game, but as US Gold proved with Ghouls 'N' Ghosts, as long as it's done properly, platform games can be fun.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
For such a young company, Thalion have done themselves proud by programming a slick and well polished game with small but well-defined sprites, haunting soundtracks and impressive presentation screens. The game's atmosphere veers wildly, due to the contrasting tunes and graphic styles - from the cute "Wizard of Oz" town scenes, through wondrous gold treasure caverns to murky underground passages filled with horrible monsters. Some of the dungeon creatures offering bargains are a little quirky, but fit into the general appearance of the game nicely nonetheless. A good start for these young designers!
Seven Gates of Jambala continues the tradition - not to quite as good effect as USG but admirably enough - and manages to hold its own against the current glut of coin-op conversions. If you like a bit of wizardry and fancy a change from 3D racing or alien blasting then give Jambala a try.
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