If it isn't obvious from the majority of the games that I've reviewed here in the Dungeon, not that I've reviewed a whole lot at this point, I love obscure little times wasters from the days of yore. There is something that is truly magical about the games released for home computers in the 80's. Designers had a devil may care attitude and released some of the weirdest titles ever. You think that there's some "out there" stuff on the Indie section of the XBLA shop? Games like Zauberwald have got them beat, hands down. See, the difference is that back in the day game designers let their imaginations run wild and because video games were still a new medium, there wasn't a huge backlog of games to be inspired by. Nowadays retro styled games are a dime a dozen. Sure, they're fun and have a hint of nostalgia to them...and some of them are really good.....but man, nothing beats the completely ludicrous premise of these old school games.
Zauberwald is a fun little puzzle/platformer that sees you controlling a wizard and his skeleton companion. The wizard is limited in the places he can move, but the skeleton is able to walk through walls and other objects that the wizard cannot. The goal is to collect a series of herbs in the order shown at the bottom of the screen. To do this, you must move your wizard and skeleton in tandem to get to the herbs. The screen scrolls to the right and to the left, so you must figure out how to maneuver your team around the various obstacles. Also you must avoid various enemies and objects that are constantly flashing in a psychedelic pulse. It would seem that your wizard and skeleton have a collective life meter, though it's not shown on screen. If you touch the flashing enemies/objects too much they you are both dead.
The music is great as well. There is only one song that plays, but it's a fun little atmospheric groove that really helps to set the mood. It's like dark Electronica and I could totally see this music being played in some dank underground club in Amsterdam by a DJ who is wearing a wolf mask and neon pink fishnet vest.
The game's story is pretty much left up to interpretation (in more ways than one, all text is in German!) but it's pretty straight forward once you know what you have to do and how to control the characters. It is a little frustrating until you get the hang of it, but after that it's a breeze.
This is a fun little time waster that can be completed in five minutes or under. Perfect for when I'm in the mood for a little something to get me in the October mood on a chilly Sunday afternoon, witch a mug of hot apple cider and some cookies. Mmmmm, yeah.