Amstrad Action

Cauldron II: The Pumpkin Strikes Back

Author: Bob Wade
Publisher: Palace
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #11

Cauldron II: The Pumpkin Strikes Back

If you've played Cauldron you'll know all about the pumpkin because he was the villain of the piece. But before you get the knives out ready to create a Halloween mask you should know that you've changed allegiances and are on the pumpkin's side this time. His task is to destroy the power of the witch (your character from the first game) from within her evil and dangerous castle.

The castle is composed of over 100 screens, packed with dangers to a plump young pumpkin. The graphics and atmosphere will be instantly familiar to Cauldron players but the task before you and the gameplay are a whole new cauldron of fish. Essentially it's a platform/exploration game but the control over the pumpkin and the layout of the castle provide plenty of new and interesting things to deal with.

The pumpkin bounces continuously and can be steered left and right through the air. The height of his bounce can be altered to several different levels and this is controlled using the fire button. This odd control method can make getting around the castle a testing and absorbing task, trying to judge the right jump for each gap in the floor.

Cauldron II: The Pumpkin Strikes Back

The pumpkin stands up to long falls very well, always sporting a cheerful grin. The bouncing animation is fairly simple but very effective, just like a large, well inflated, yellow football, grinning at you maniacally. Getting good control takes a little while as you experiment with the bouncing but there's plenty of opportunity for that as you explore the large castle.

What our rotund hero is in search of are a number of flashing objects that will allow him to destroy the witch's power all will be needed to complete the game. These are, of course, in some of the most awkward to get at spots requiring a lot of pumpkin perseverance and control.

You start with seven lives, each being preserved by a supply of magic. If this runs out a life is lost. Most of the witch's creatures will merely try to drain this magic by running into you. while others will kill on contact. The dangers come in many forms, from tiny mice and spiders to murderous walking skeletons and deadly gargoyles. Some of them can be shot with magic bolts but again this costs the pumpkin some of his magic supply.

Cauldron II: The Pumpkin Strikes Back

Magic is replenished by picking up a sparking magic point, which also allows you to fire the magic bolts, but these are not replaced as the game goes on. There are a number of surprises in store for the unwary traveller - what else did you expect from a witch? Most of them can be anticipated though, just expect the unexpected.

The atmosphere the game conjours up is superb - beautifully designed graphics, good animation and a fantastic title tune. The gameplay itself is very testing and should keep you plugging away for many a long hour, even if it does tend to get a bit samey just bouncing around the place. The only criticism of the game is that the use of flick screens can be very off-putting when unavoidably hopping several times between two screens.

A worthy successor to Cauldron with a much cuter lead character.

Second Opinion

Cauldron II: The Pumpkin Strikes Back

Cute, bouncing main characters arc certainly in fashion at the moment, but this one's got more than that going for it. A wonderful bouncing action and some infuriatingly tough gaps to hit make for enthralling gameplay, and there's lots to explore too. A real must for all you pumpkin freaks out there.

Good News

P. Well over 100 screens.
P. Atmospheric graphics and title music.
P. Well designed castle and rooms.
P. Nice animation and control of pumpkin.
P. A tough task to complete.

Bad News

N. The control is awkward at times.
N. Repeated hopping between flick screens is tough on the eyes.

Green Screen View

Everything's visible, and looks pretty good in fact. The pumpkin's a bit under-ripe, though.

Bob Wade

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