Released in the aftermath of a glut of arcade/adventure hybrids, SPELLBINDER must offer than the usual range of features, particularly with its relatively high price tag. This it does, mainly through its icon system, its size, its graphical detail and spell-collecting and casting procedures.
Playing SPELLBINDER is not difficult. The character moves freely around each room, though you do have to be accurate when guiding him through one of the many doors.
Control is aided by a well thought out icon system complementing the four definable keys. These icons, selected by function keys, enable you to mix and cast spells, examine and use items to be found in the adventure, and keep tabs on what items you have in your possession.
SPELLBINDER's graphics are not outstanding. However, the program designers have put some though into littering the stone-walled castle with the sort of medieval accoutrements you would expect to see in a place like this.
Heraldic shields and gargoyles adorn the walls and you find suits of armour, wooden barrels and sturdy chests dotted around the place, all adding atmosphere to the proceedings.
What is more impressive than the detailed graphics, is the sheer number of rooms comprising the two floors, three citadels, catacomb and dungeon.
One-way doors, secret passages and teleports all confuse the explorer but I found the colour coding of the various parts of the castle (the game is in two-colour, high resolution Mode 4) most helpful in creating a game map.
What makes this more than a mapping and avoiding the monsters affair, are the weird and wonderful spells you are called on to cast. First however you must find the ingredients for each spell - items like burnt oak leaves, toad legs and sulphur are all essential components of the common spells.
The instruction leaflet details some spells, but it is up to you to obtain the rest. Speaking to the stone dwarves, browsing through the bookshelves and similar ruses will all help glean the necessary information.
The game sticks to some quite strict adventuring rules - it is more a problem-solving graphical puzzle than a key-bashing exercise of dexterity.
The spell element, which you must master if you aspire to solve SPELLBINDER, is far from easy. It is this aspect of the game, coupled with the thought put into much of the design which marks it out as better than most of the other, similar offerings.