With so many platform games in the Super Mario Bros, Wonderboy and Rainbow Islands mould, it's difficult to design new ones without re-hashing old ideas. Prophecy dispenses with this predicament by making no attempt at all to do anything different, choosing instead one of those good, old-fashioned little-boy-battling-evil-Lord scenarios.
You play Brian, a small Viking nipper whose family has been transmogrified into another astral plane by a freak whirlwind. This was sent down by the Dark Lord Loki to capture you, but luckily you were out gathering herbs when the whirlwind arrived.
You return to find your village wrecked and a benign God waiting to comfort you. He tells you the prophecy of a small boy who saves the kingdom from the evil Dark Lord. Pennies drop, mists clear, and you realise you are the Viking saviour destined to search for Loki and rid the world of his evil presence.
Controlling Brian is simple: move the joystick left or right and he walks, push up and he jumps. You still control him when leaping and can land on roofs, platforms and (whoops!) monsters.
There are lots of monsters in Prophecy and they're difficult to avoid. Most you deal with at close range using your sword, but others require long-distance bashing with weapons you buy on the way. You can use bombs, bolases, fire-sprites and lightning stuns to kill difficult monsters, but for really hectic moments, nothing beats a smart bomb which kills all the gribblies on screen. Use the spacebar to cycle through the weapons you possess and pull down on the joystick to trigger them.
Pressing Return in front of a weapons shop opens the door and takes you into a dark room where a strange shopkeeper shows you the goods. Point to your chosen item, press fire and a small hobgoblin pushes it off the shelf.
If you have enough money and the shop sells them, you can buy shields, invisibility cloaks, and magic boots that make you run faster or fly. Occasionally you can buy extra lives or strength and it's wise to do this whenever possible. After battling your way past jumping toadstools, buzzing flies and spitting flowers, you're confronted by one of eight super-nasties. These are friends of the Dark Lord, and need some skillful stomping before you can progress to the next stage. After sixteen magic lands you finally meet Loki himself and you need all your wits about you if you're to trash him too.
Prophecy begins enchantingly with a long illustrated into story which, thankfully, you can skip with the fire button if you've seen it all before. The main game contains interesting creatures, but sadly on a fairly standard Wonderboy-type background.
Brian is well-animated, complete with comic quizzical expressions as he tumbles head over heels down long drops. A few scenes, such as the bottom of the well, feature background animation which add atmosphere to an otherwise mundane game.
Sound effects consist of squeaks and whistles, reinforcing the arcade-cutesy style graphics. The in-game tunes are catchy and you soon find yourself humming along, though humming arcade ditties is seriously bad for your street-cred.
The major problem with Prophecy is the complete lack of originality in the game's design. It bears too many resemblances to other platform games, notably Wonderboy In Monsterland, right down to the shops, weapons and money dropping from clouds. The music and programming of the game show definite talent and it's a shame that it wasn't used in a better scenario.
Prophecy is an enjoyable way to waste a few hours when you're babysitting for next door's five-year-old, but buy it with the money his parents pay you, don't spend your own.