Argus Press1st February 1988
Published in A&B Computing 5.02
After a gestation period of nearly two years and through a variety of incarnations, Elixir has finally reached the shelves. As Cyril the Chemist, you have had the misfortune to swallow a strong potion, reducing you to the size of a bottle of aspirins.
Your only hope of ever returning to normal is to collect vitamin pills scattered around the many shelves of the shop, and eventually find the magic elixir, which is stored out of immediate reach on the top shelf.
I have to say that, initially, I was not very impressed. The sound is basic and the graphics, although large are fairly simple, with plain colours and a lack of fine detail. However, as we have all seen on earlier occasions, state-of-the-art graphics are far from essential if the game itself is good.
Elixir is basically a combination of platforms-and-ladders and an adventure. However, the unusual setting means that the platforms are the bottle-laden shelves of the shop, with objects such as strands of thread and pieces of string as the ladders.
You must collect the 40 red pills, while being wary of the many other coloured pills dotted around. A blue pill speeds you up, but a magenta pill slows you down, and a yellow one will kill you instantly. This could be a major problem for anyone playing the game in black and white!
Elixir is a refreshingly different game, the most appealing aspects of which are the normally insignificant problems caused by everyday objects. You get a very strange feeling from climbing up the bristles of a toothbrush, or standing under a large bottle wondering how to climb on top of it. A leaky bottle of acid once was simply an inconvenience, but now it is deadly. Maybe the acid-proof plaster will help? But where is it? And what do you do with the magic bean or the various other objects scattered around?
There are also a number of humorous touches, like a jar of real vanishing cream, and the ghost that pops out of the spirit bottle.
One mildly irritating feature is that if you fall too far from any point - normally by missing a jump - you will immediately drop all the way to the bottom, losing a life in the process and restarting on the bottom shelf. To get back up again proves very difficult. The simple answer, of course, is to be more careful.
I liked Elixir. It provides an interesting balance of fun and simplicity, with a number of adventure-style chaining puzzles and just enough frustration to make you have another go.
It does not have the instant appeal of Superior's other recent releases, Spellbinder and Bonecruncher, so you would be well advised to try it out first. That said, it grows on you faster than Repton's fungus. One last word, beware of the lipsticks.