Platforms: Commodore Amiga and PC
We’ve covered a few Miracle Games titles over the years, including later incarnations of Dick Special and also Bouncy Bat game. In 1994, another title from the studio was due for release via Psygnosis in the form of The Magician’s Castle.
The game was to be an adventure/puzzle game where two brother magicians (each jealous of each other’s skills) are at war. Brother A has cast a spell over Brother B (yourself!), who is now a prisoner in his own castle, drained of all magical abilities. Fortunately before this happened, he was able to activate his hat, gloves, shoes and cane into a magical assistant. This assistant is your only hope of gaining freedom. The story is much darker, as you will find out further on.
You must control the assistant and negotiate 100 levels of the castle – avoiding traps and solving puzzles that have been left by your brother and traversing through various paths and secret routes in the castle. The puzzles would involve having to find certain objects in the castle to try and get past a particular trap or obstacle. When puzzles were solved or an interaction made, a small cut scene would occur to show what you’ve done.
The One magazine did an interview with Miracle Games about the development, where it was mentioned that it was being coded by Steve, with graphics by Jezz and with data entry and game design by Robert Purcell. Surnames were unfortunately missing. We think Steve was either “Steve Andrew” or “Steve Deacon” but we think that Jezz was Jeremy Ashton (who was also known as Jess) and the brother of Graeme Ashton who was managing director of Miracle Games.
Graphically, the game had the feel of a Disney game, with decent cartoon-like graphics produced throughout. Many frames were actually dropped from the animations that Jezz produced due to space issues. As a result of this, space for music and sound effects was becoming less and less according to the interview.
It was revealed that the concept was originally created by Richard Browne, who had drawn up the script about the general concept (an arcade adventure game), which was then expanded upon by Miracle Games – including the ability to fire spells (which was later dropped).
Richard revealed on his Twitter thread in November 2023 that it was a “Total vanity project”. He felt it was crazy that Psygnosis greenlit a 23 year old’s story idea. However, Richard felt the project went a bit sideways, as it was aimless and hence concluded to “always have the dev team own the game”.
Carleton Handley asked Richard if it was pitched to Walking Circles at the time, as he had recalled them working on something perhaps similar. Richard felt it was possible and that he may have talked to Walking Circles about doing the game before Miracle Games took it on.
Finally, the task of music (and we assume SFX) would fall to Tim Wright, who uploaded the game’s theme tune to Soundcloud. It is currently the only bit of the actual game that has been preserved so far. Jason (Kenz) Mackenzie of Psytronik Software very kindly dug out the Amiga MOD files which Tim produced for the game, and which you can find in the downloads below.
What of the rest of the game though? Graham is previously mentioned having backups, and hopes someday to trawl through them – so perhaps one day we’ll get to add something to the site?
In the meantime, we’ll try and find out more from Graeme about the game. It sounds like the game sadly didn’t quite come together in a good way, perhaps wasn’t playable or fun enough and that is why it was eventually canned.
This isn’t the end of the story though – in a bizarre twist, the PC version of the game eventually DID make it out in some form. It isn’t clear if it was a cut back version, or what had existed, but it was released under the name of Necromantics, and you can download a version of it. The team was expanded by the looks of it, and the game was released under a new label of Effigy Software.
We’re not sure how much Psygnosis knew about this overall, but it seems what had remained at the time of cancellation was tidied up quickly and released in 1996. Sadly the Amiga version is still at large, so it is hoped that something of this could be found one day.
Richard revealed that the story was much darker than what was told in the press, and kindly dug out the original story that he created and which was used as the basis of the game. You can find a download below.
With thanks to Karl Kuras for highlighting, Richard Browne for supplying the original story, Jason (Kenz) Mackenzie for digging out the Amiga MODs by Tim, Amiga Magazine Rack and Abandonware Magazines for the scans.