Ferazel’s Wand is the latest offering from Ambrosia Software, a rare gaming company that specializes in game software just for the Macintosh platform. Ambrosia markets its products as shareware, which is nice for the budget minded because you get to try before you buy. And even when you buy it’s not very much. Ferazel’s Wand, which is their most advanced game to date, is a mere $30. This is pleasant when the average consumer game is between $50 and $60. Another feature of Ferazel’s Wand is you don’t need a joystick to play it. It’s designed to be played on a keyboard so it’s perfect for laptop users or iMac owners who haven’t bought a joystick.
The game is a standard journey format with the player taking the role of Ferazel, the last known survivor of his race, in a desperate journey to save his way of life. The story is of the Habnabits, who look like a cross between a hobbit and an anteater. The Habnabit’s are magic beings who gather magic crystals and and make magic potions. One terrible day the Dread Queen Xichra sends the Manditraki to invade the Habnabit’s subterranean homes and destroy them. The Manditraki succeed and only Ferazel is left alive. Play starts as Ferazel finds on old master magician bleeding on his deathbed. The old Habnabit sends young Ferazel, who is merely a journeyman magician, on his quest to defeat the Manditraki and their evil Queen.
The Habnabit’s world, Teraknorn, is divided into the underground and the surface. The underground includes the Habnabit caverns, as well as the Cavern’s of Forbidden Flame and the Icy Caverns. Guess what you have to do in those caverns?
Then the surface consists of the Intoshe Forest, the Mysterious Ruins, the Great Western Desert and the Lethsempi Mountains. Game play requires that Ferazel visit these seven lands and learn spells and pick-up power ups, and special items along the way. He also has to defeat his enemies in the process. Power-ups include such things as double speed, and the ability to walk on water, lava, or acid and the ability to jump higher or fall like a feather. Special items include various weapons and magic shields as well as some charms and three big items, the cannon, the catapult, and the hang glider.
For shareware, the graphics in Ferazel’s Wand are pretty impressive, but by consumer standards they are not. Anyone who is a hardcore gamer will feel like they’ve gone back to games of the early 1990’s with Ferazel’s Wand. As for game play, I have to confess I didn’t get very far with this title. Keyboard-based play was long ago in a galaxy far, far away for me and I can’t get past it. My fingers just don’t remember how to do that fast enough anymore for this kind of game. I emailed Ambrosia for advice on a joystick that might be compatible with their game. Since I haven’t bought a joystick for my iMac yet I thought I’d get one that would work with their game. In response to my question Ambrosia said: "Ferazel’s Wand uses Input Sprockets, so as long as your joystick makes a compatible Input Sprocket, then you shouldn’t have any problems."
When I asked for clarification like an actual recommendation of a brand of joystick, the Ambrosia reply was: "I’m a keyboard guy myself, so I’m not familiar with any particular joysticks."
Okay, so that wasn’t exactly helpful. If you’re a joystick player like me, then either don’t buy this game, or download the mini version from the website, and see if it works with the joystick you have. The website is www.ferazel.com. If you decide you want the full version I suggest sending them your money and having them send you the game on CD-ROM; it’s a lot easier than trying to download something that large unless you have a really fast internet connection.
I’m giving this game 3 GiN gems but with the disclaimer that it’s shareware and I was reviewing it as such. If I was comparing it with similar, more expensive consumer games then I could only give it 1 GiN Gem.