Seriously, Horace, did a tin of paint fall on you or something?
This one has an interesting history. Anyone remotely interested in ZX Spectrum gaming will know about Horace, the blue-bodied, giant eyed doo-dah who starred in the Horace games released by Psion in the early ’80s: Hungry Horace, Horace Goes Skiing and Horace and the Spiders. None of them were particularly exceptional but they were entertaining enough and they’re one of those series Spectrum users get fuzzy and nostalgic about, rather like the Commander Keen series is for those who were PC users in the ’90s.
Thing is, there was a fourth official Horace title as well: Horace in the Mystic Woods, which appeared in 1995. This was a platformer, taking place across 64 single-screen stages, in which Horace had to collect objects and make it to an exit square to progress; rather like Manic Miner. For some reason, this game was only ever released on the Psion 3-series, a type of palmtop computer, and so not only used a simple black & white display but was also obscure as a result and largely unknown and unplayed to most of Horace’s fans.
But now, that’s changed. Indie coder Bob Smith has converted Horace in the Mystic Woods to the 48K ZX Spectrum, sticking to the original layout and gameplay of the original game but adding colour as well; although Horace, always dark blue in the Spectrum games, is inexplicably white here. A few plays reveal that the Manic Miner similarities are deceptive: Horace’s inertia makes this very different to play and, as the player progresses, various features and collectables appear which give this game a distinct feel. It’s actually rather more than something for completist Horace fans or retrogamers, it’s a good game in it’s own right and you should bloody well play it.
Horace in the Mystic Woods can be downloaded either from Bob Smith’s homepage or from its entry at the World of Spectrum.
He’s supposed to be blue, mind.