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Publisher: Ambrosia Software    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: 601 @ 100 MHz    Hard Disk: 90 MB    2x CD-ROM

Ferazel's Wand
April 17, 2000 | Andy Largent

Every gaming platform traditionally has a unique hero which gamers recognize immediately as bound with that console. Whether it be a stocky Italian plumber with a knack for kicking turtles or a spiny hedgehog that likes racing through levels, a sort of spokesman who provides instant recognition of that platform is important.

Apple doesn't really have a Mac-only protagonist that people can see and say, "I have to get a Mac before I can play that cool game." Ambrosia may have just changed this, in endowing the revived Macintosh gaming scene with a hero in the form of a Habnabit named Ferazel. His face shrouded in mystery, only Ferazel's substantial nose and intense eyes are visible as he bravely fights to save his fellow Habnabits from the evil hordes of the Dread Queen Xichra. Ferazel sports a stylish cloak, much like Apple's beautiful machines, and powerful hardware is present (in the form of a vast number of spells and items) to fully backup his classy looks.

Ferazel's Wand marks a "first" for Ambrosia, in actually having a game which requires the user to buy a CD, as opposed to just downloading it from their web site (the CD also contains every other Ambrosia title, so consider that a bonus). With nearly 90MB of content, Ferazel's Wand is easily Ambrosia's largest and most ambitious title to date. The game sprawls across 23 levels, each of which has its own unique music to set the mood. Beautiful backgrounds and a powerful particle-enhanced engine help to bring the game to life.

Getting into the Habnabit habit...
Ferazel's Wand feels much like a console action game. The perspective is set like a side-scroller, but be prepared to move up, down and backwards as you travel through the lands of Teraknorn. Ferazel has a strong grip and can cling to most walls. This adds a whole new element to the simple run-and-jump games of yore. While the controls are fairly basic, Ferazel's Wand really begs for a game pad. With full InputSprocket support, Ferazel's Wand is a great reason to run out and buy an ADB or USB controller if you don't have one already. While it can be played with the keyboard, there are times where a game pad simply makes reaching that far ledge easier.

The 23 levels that comprise the Seven Lands of Teraknorn are winding and full of mystery. At the end of each level, you will see a summary with the percentage of monsters killed, golden Xichrons found and secrets discovered. Many times the level will have more than one possible exit, and it is often necessary to go back through and replay a level to try and find every secret. The nice part is that once you've killed off all the enemies, you are free to roam the level in peace. This isn't a frustrating console game where monsters continuously pour out of the woodwork. Cautious exploration is essential to finding every hidden power-up and it really gives Ferazel's Wand a sense of depth and detail rarely seen in action games.

One complaint might be that Ferazel's Wand can get very difficult after the first half of the game. Some gamers might not see this as a problem at all, more as a challenge to be conquered. While that is true, novice players will need persistence to find their way through all of the levels. Games can also only be saved at certain points, so make sure to use your saves wisely!


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