"In a bygone age shrouded in the mists of time dwelt a Master Magician by the name of Merzel the Magnificent. Not being a young man, he sought to find a successor to his power. A series of tests were devised for those who thought themselves worthy of his title. Beneath his castle, Merzel has many strange rooms and a labyrinth [which has only two locations! - Balg] and it is there you shall meet the challenge..."
Simply Magic is a GACed game written by Michael and Jane Trewhella. It isn't your usual adventure - the location descriptions are even shorter than an Interceptor game - but each location has a picture to go with it, some of which are very good.
Whilst playing the adventure you are occasionally visited by the Angel of Death (another good graphic), who drains some of your valuable energy. Don't worry, though, as energy pills randomly appear while you play.
Simply Magic is a game you'll either love or hate - it can be very frustrating at times. It is incredibly difficult to map - more often than not, if you go south from a location and then go back north immediately you will not return to the same location! If you go south twice from the 'Room of Wishes' you'll end up back at the 'Room of Wishes'! What is most annoying, however, is that some of the rooms in the game seem to have a random function built in - rooms seem to move around and you can never really tell what the next room will be from them. Perhaps this is to add to the highly magical atmosphere but to be honest it's a real pain when playing and trying to make a map!
The puzzles in the game are also different to a 'normal' adventure - each room has a description, such as 'Room of Wisdom', 'Room of Bewilderment' or 'Room of Unhappiness' in which certain actions (such as crying in the 'Room of Unhappiness') are needed to elicit a useful response. The game is logical in a warped sort of way - you need to give the pearl to the old man in the Room of Wisdom (Pearl of wisdom, you see... tie a knot in a handkerchief to avoid falling prey to the 'Room of Forgetfulness' etc). An ingenious idea, this form of puzzle works well but is certainly an acquired taste.
To be honest, Simply Magic would be a poor game without the graphics and it is shame that Joan has chosen to release this game before the others. However, it is difficult to criticize - it's been playtested by Joan and is flawless in this respect. Worth buying but don't expect it to be easy!