Hocus Pocus is a game (of many) that I did play growing up. Granted to anyone who didn’t play the the 90’s this game is a 2d platform game (from 1994) in which you play as Hocus who is a wizard that has been sent on a special mission (of completing 4 different trials) to prove his worthiness to Terexin the leader of the council of wizards.
Granted the name of the game is basic and it doesn’t leave you with much hope of this being unique (even for an older game). However I feel that this game does have its own unique charms in its own way as the story of the game is that you complete 4 different trials (chapters) in the game and each chapter has its own environments that you get to play through such as castles with giant mushroom forests outside, church like castles or even ice crystal caves and each level does have its own soundtrack and assets in the level; which I quite like as it does help separate them at least on a visual level. But I did notice that out of the monsters in game there are 6 different styles of enemies these being slow/fast melee using monsters, ranged monsters and 3 different flying type of monsters, granted most of the monsters are reskins of other monsters but I liked the visual variety nonetheless. I didn’t like the animation of the monsters because as a whole it is quite basic but it is at least ok if nothing else.
Gameplay wise this game does play out like your average 2d platformer in the sense that you are running through each level. However it is more complex than the average 2d platformer as you aren’t running from point a to b, instead each trial in the game is 9 levels for each chapter with a boss level at the end of each chapter. Whilst you can complete each level around 10 minutes or less depending on your skill (on average) the levels themselves are quite big but not so big that you require a map. Each level is filled with non respawning enemies, various treasures that you can pick up (for high score and to 100% the level), potions that can either heal you or provide a special ability such as automatic spell casting, a hidden room and magic orbs that you must find with an assigned number of on each level (anywhere from 4-9) and various lift/lever puzzles.
Whilst I like the gameplay of the levels as it is more intelligent than your average platform game however I did notice that the game does judge you upon how much treasure you collect, how fast you are to complete the level and how many monsters you kill but I didn’t like how when you collect all the orbs the level ends I would have liked it if you could leave a level at any time after you collect the orbs so you can collect the treasure if desired. I did also find out that some of the puzzles are quite flawed as there are lever puzzles in which you pull a lever up/down and it is trial and error on whether you succeed as all I had to do was try every combination to open doors but on some occasions it sets off a booby trap. I also have a similar sentiment towards the lift puzzles as if you jump of a lift too early and you cannot access the lift to go back up from the lower floors you wind up redoing the whole level again, which if you are too fast for the game it will mean you redoing levels until you get it right.
Overall I would recommend this game if you are after a retro platforming game of the early 90’s, or if you are after a simple and charming game that can be played for a short while. I would also recommend playing this with a controller as it is a better experience and less likely that you will end up breaking a keyboard as you do end up hammering the control/alt buttons in order to jump/cast spells a lot.