Hocus Focus

Publisher: Quicksilva
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #13

Hocus Focus

'Editors, I hate them!' At least that's what Jeremy the Punk, YOP trainee photographer says. He works at the amazingly popular newspaper The Daily Shocker... The sort of newspaper that prints moving holographic pictures of Page Three girls, and where truth is regarded to be the dog turd on the road to successful journalism.

The esteemed editor of this organ, Hacker Harry, has given his YOPite the chance to prove himself by taking a few photos on a very 'simple' little job. You see, the paper has been tipped off by a contact at Marylebone Cop Shop that a certain Professor Augustus Dopper has just been arrested, and the Police have found enough patent applications in his residence to keep the front page covered for weeks. So off goes young Jezza... trundle, trundle, trundle down to Hyde Park, where the Prof lives, before an evil reporter from The Dally Stunt has the chance to cast his lascivious lens over the patent applications.

Like most Professors, Augustus' synapses are warped to say the least, and he's hidden all the applications in objects littered around his large, multi-level subterranean lab. And if that wasn't enough, he's developed a herd of rampaging mutants to guard them lest something should happen to him... Gawsh! Poor ol' Jeremy, he doesn't know what's in store!

Hocus Focus

His quest starts near the entrance to the Professor's den of discovery, and he can walk either left or right, towards or away from the entrance. If he trudges to the entrance he discovers that the only way in is through a hole, and as Jezza strolls, the scenery scrolls.

Around the lab are loads of objects, all of which have to be searched. Some contain applications (hurrah) and some are empty (boo), while others have horrible muties residing inside them, which leap out when our hero takes a peek (double boo). If Jeremy gets touched by a mutant then his film is stolen (boo, again) and he has to return to the surface to gel another (phew).

When Jem wants to look inside an object, pulling back on the joystick activates his icon box and pressing the fire button cycles the icons. Using these Jem can look, pickup, use, take a photo and switch off the music which plays throughout the game. If the action seems illogical then a little question mark appears in the box and Jem shakes his head before returning to stroll mode.

Hocus Focus

The Prof is a very untidy little fella, and has left several items lying around, such as swords and keys. Swords are useful and can be used against the rampaging mutants, whilst keys help Jem to get back to the surface - underneath the entrance to each level is a fan, and if our hero stands on this and uses the key, then it's activated and he is blown up through the hole to the next level.

Oh, by the way, the mutants aren't the only hazard - the other one is invisible... it doesn't smell... it has no taste... it's silent and can't be felt... it's... it's... AAAARGGH!! Radiation! Yep, Jeremy continually absorbs radiation, shown on screen as a constantly increasing counter. If this counter reaches thirty rads then Mr YOP 1986 becomes a glowing punk and dies, so regular visits to the surface are a necessity. He also needs to go back to the surface every now and then to pick up new film, and develop the old.

When an old film is developed the prints can be inserted into a box underneath the main display, and rearranged to form a large picture. The prints can be moved into any position on the grid, and the whole thing works rather like a simplified jigsaw puzzle.

Once the current prints have been inserted then it's another trip underground for more piccies... and of course, more hassle.


The most impressive thing about Hocus Focus is the music, although it does irritate after a while. Graphically it is quite cute, but nothing outstanding. As for the game itself... Well, not bad, though I reckon it would make a better budget title. I did enjoy playing it on several occasions, but due to the lack of variety and depth, interest soon wanes. Still, a pleasant little game, and worth a look at if you're bored and want something sufficiently interesting to pass the time.


This is a really jolly little arcade adventure which has some really nice touches. The graphics aren't particularly wonderful, but are adequate for the game. A special mention must go to the music, which has some really amazing voices. I liked the icon system and the way the game has to be completed, and although it is Impossible Missionesque, it is original and fun. The game costs a couple of quid less than most Commodore games, and is well worth looking at if you want an unusual and fun arcade adventure.


Presentation 68%
No game options, but otherwise adequate.

Graphics 70%
Average sprites and backgrounds, but nice scrolling window.

Sound 81%
Short, but very impressive tune, and grotty 'speech'.

Hookability 77%
Easy to get into - and enjoyable too!

Lastability 68%
Photographing a lunatic's abode is tricky, but can prove monotonous.

Value For Money 68%
Not overly expensive for what it is.

Overall 70%
A jolly arcade adventure, which is fun to play and offers a fair bit of challenge.