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Retro PC: Hocus Pocus


Released in 1994 for MS-DOS, this side-scrolling platform game is the epitome of nostalgia to me. Unlike most gamers, my first console was not a NES or PlayStation but a PC with MS-DOS games, thus making Hocus Pocus one of the first games I ever played.

Developed by Moonlite Software and published by Apogee Software (a company that was for me what Nintendo was to most kids), you play as a young apprentice wizard called Hocus on a quest to prove you’re worthy of joining the wizard council. Or something. It’s not very plot-heavy, but when there’s mushrooms running around everywhere I guess it doesn’t really need to be.

It’s a standard classic platformer at its best and almost certainly the very first platformer that I ever played — even if I did only have the Shareware version as a child. Playing this game nowadays still fills me with nostalgia and joy; I can’t tell if I still enjoy playing the game purely on a nostalgic basis or if it still genuinely holds up as a good game, but for some reason DOS graphics and music still just… get me. It’s hard to explain really, but DOS games have very distinctive-sounding soundtracks and sounds and a recognisable graphical style.

Shamefully, I’ve still only yet to play the shareware version of the game, so I’ve not played any further than the first episode — that being nine levels — as opposed to the full 36 levels. Even so, there were an interesting and vast array of environments and monsters actually and to be honest, the enemies were great. They all more-or-less did the same thing, but they were just, well… awesome.

It may come across as incredibly basic to anyone that tries out the shareware version of the game on DOSbox now, but as one of the first games played by a kid, it was something magical (no pun intended). In fact, it still is and always will be to me. I imagine my memories of playing this game are akin to those of someone playing Super Mario Bros. for the first time — the game felt pretty intense as a child.

God damn it, it still feels pretty intense now.

Still to come with the ‘Retro PC’ series: Jetpack, Pickle Wars, Jill of the Jungle, Corridor 7, Heretic, God of Thunder, Watch Out Willie, SkyRoads, Total Annihilation, Llamatron 2112, Skunny, Shooting Gallery, Duke Nukem, CyberBox, Abuse, Arcy 2, Red Alert, DOOM and more.

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About Ryan Brown

Commonly going by the alias 'Toadsanime' online, Ryan Brown acts as Coin Arcade's editor and primary writer. With an avid interest in various aspects of gaming -- including general gaming, indie gaming, retro gaming and merchandise collecting -- he aspires to build a career in the video game journalism industry. He also writes his own descriptions as if talking about somebody else, apparently.

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