Game Reviews

Mystery Castle

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| Mystery Castle
Mystery Castle
| Mystery Castle

Wizards are a funny bunch. Often bizarre in appearance (just look at Paul Daniels) and notoriously secretive, these shadowy characters make a living pulling rabbits out of hats and controlling people's minds. It’s easy to see why they were burnt at the stake during the Dark Ages.

Thankfully not all wizardly types are cut from the same cloth. Monty the Wizard, for example, is thoroughly nice bloke. Not only does he mind his language and assist little old ladies in crossing busy roads, but he also has a tremendously strong sense of personal duty.

As part of a secret order of wizards tasked with cleaning up the legendary Castle of Mystery, it’s Monty’s ambition to be the one who finally restores the crumbling citadel to its former glory.

Mystery Castle adopts a top-down view and comprises 50 different rooms which must be successfully traversed for Monty’s dream to become a reality.

Each room has an exit which can only be accessed by collecting all of the magical amulets and then standing on a special symbol. Naturally, this task is made increasingly trickier as the game progresses: Monty has to deal with spell books, gaping chasms and even nefarious imps.

Within some of the rooms are locked doors that you can only open by collecting certain items located nearby. For example, one door might display a half-moon icon -; collecting the spell book that shares this image will grant access.

In addition to all this item collection, poor old Monty has to contend with a fair amount of manual labour. You see, to cross various gaps in the floor you need to push wooden grates into them to fashion a makeshift walkway.

If you’ve had the pleasure of playing a crusty old retro game called Chip’s Challenge then you’ll be familiar with this box-related tomfoolery. Some of the more fiendish levels require you to relocate several different crates in exactly the right sequence in order to complete the stage.

Mercifully, if you get into a position where you can’t progress, there’s an option to restart the stage without incurring any kind of penalty (other than loss of your own time).

Other gameplay elements, such as the ability to both increase and decrease Monty’s size, are also present. As you might expect they have a subtle impact on the structure of each puzzle they’re involved with.

Taking all of this brain-straining puzzle action into account, the cute visual style of Mystery Castle skilfully conceals the fact that the challenge contained within is incredibly taxing. If you value games that exercise the old grey matter then this will appeal.

Controlling the action is slightly less pleasing, however. The on-screen touchpad does an adequate job but the buttons are quite close together, which will cause problems for those of you with large fingers. Personally speaking, we’d have liked the trackball to have been supported as a control option.

Because it’s essentially an upgrade of a mobile phone game from quite some time ago, Mystery Castle isn’t exactly the most eye-catching Android title available. The visuals have been spruced up a little but they’re incredibly basic compared to what we’re used to seeing elsewhere on the Android Marketplace, and when placed next to your average iPhone release it looks positively archaic.

The mere notion of taking an old mobile game, dusting it off and pushing it onto the Android Market with minimal improvements should set the sirens wailing, but despite our common sense telling us to give Mystery Castle a critical mauling, we simply can’t bring ourselves to.

This is classic video gaming. It showcases a simple concept, appealing (if somewhat basic) visuals and a stern challenge. Fans of fast-paced action epics are likely to find it a drag but those of you after a more cerebral adventure are advised to dip in now - especially while the low introductory price (it’s currently available for a mere 88 English pence) holds.

Mystery Castle

A spellbinding puzzle game that is worth rediscovering on Android despite the simple graphics and often awkward control