SOFTWARE REVIEW: MAGIC POCKETS BY THE BITMAP BROTHERS
(Including some warp tips)
by Richard Karsmakers
"No! Please! Loucynda! Don't!"
Cronos Warchild, mercenary annex hired gun, heard the muffled
echoes of his own voice reflect off the fungi-stained walls.
Dazed, he sat upright and shook his head.
Ever since puberty, he had been having these dreams. 'Wet
dreams' he called them, because they usually ended with him
waking up, soaked in sweat.
He shook his head again, trying to get rid of the image of
Loucynda, his betrothed, on the insides of his eyelids.
Warchild had for quite a while now not been able to cope with
females - nor with the activities most other men in the universe
tended to wish to employ with them.
All this had started when a girl had kicked him in his vital
parts at one of the few moments during a day when his multi-
absorb groin protector was switched off. He still felt the pain
sometimes. He still had horribly realistic flashbacks, sometimes
in the middle of day - or in the middle of a public place.
Flashbacks that would make him go through all of it again; the
intense agony as if he was being gnawed upon by a Zarctonic
Megaleech - and the casual, satisfied grin on the girl's face.
The blackness that had followed.
"No! Please! Mel! Don't!"
He found himself looking at the square face of a man of which
the rest of his body was as squarely built as that face. Long
black sideburns clung to it. It looked confused - to say the
Here he was. Cronos Warchild, the man that could scare the shit
out of any living being, the man that had more enemies in the
world than you could shake machine guns at.
He had been beaten by a girl. He was now frightened of the mere
prospect of doing anything with females other than killing or
He launched his fist angrily at the square face with the long
sideburns, shattering the mirror.
He went downstairs, eyeing the owner of the motel with a
lethal look when the poor man brought up the subject of payment.
Not long after he had exited the establishment - if indeed it
had been anything established - he had noticed someone following
At first, the person following him seemed to go through
considerable length to avoid being spotted. The figure hid behind
garbage cans and lamp posts, ceased walking when Cronos did.
Maybe this day was not going to be as bad as he had thought at
As Warchild progressed through the early morning streets of
town, however, his tail seemed to grow less and less concerned
with the possibility of being discovered. This disconcerted the
mercenary annex hired gun somewhat - the thought that the person
was perhaps not afraid at all of being seen following the most
notorious killer machine in the universe was rather unusual.
However, this thought did not bother Cronos' brain cell all too
much - for, indeed, he was trained to fight and not to think.
As Warchild turned around a corner he quickly turned around. The
person, in case he would still be following, would not expect to
For a short while after he had stopped around that corner, ready
to strike, footsteps that weren't his had echoed through the
silence of morning rising.
They had seemed to come nearer, and then suddenly they had
He looked back around the corner to see what had happened.
He gazed straight into a pair of viciously cool shades, worn by
a juvinile in viciously cool clothes, wearing viciously cool
sneakers and an equally cool cap.
"Hi dad!" the juvinile exclaimed.
For the moment, Cronos heard no more. He had fainted.
It had been a long time ago. As a matter of fact, it had been so
stupefyingly long ago that Warchild even subconsciously seemed to
have lost all recollections of the event.
Now the recollection came back like rocks being hurled at him by
people yelling "Blasphemy! Blasphemy!"
She had been called Penelope Sunflower - a name quite ill
fitting to a woman of her size and character. She had been a
woman whose subtleness would make Caterpillar destruction
machines seem devices made solely for the grooming of flowers.
Her smile had made rabid pitbulls seem friendly, her kiss had
made unanaesthetized castration seem alluring, her singing had
made nuclear explosions seem the united voices of one or two
young virgins singing a biblical hymn. The folds of her
voluptuous flesh could have hidden a small army's weaponry with a
year's supply of ammo. Her weight would not have been considered
credible enough for inclusion in the Univeral Edition of the
Guiness Book of Records - and that's without her wearing make-up!
Her many, many gallons of blood had to be pumped through her vast
body by means of an enormous device that still burnt coal,
discreetly hidden in one of the many folds of her flesh. Her
erogenous zones could only be stimulated by a thousand dwarves
carrying road drills that would crawl into her very pores and
bash the nerves' synapses. Her snoring had been easy to confuse
with the mating call of the Zanzobarian Gigawhale and had
virtually led to the extinction of this remarkable species of
mammal. When she had died, the only place where she was allowed
to be buried had been the Platonic Ocean on Bulbobkov Gamma - and
environmentalists had protested.
Yet, in her own peculiar way, she had loved Cronos. And, in his
possibly even more peculiar way, Cronos Warchild had loved her.
When he had been around Penelope Sunflower, he found that words
failed him, that violent feelings of love surged through his
veins, and that his steel nerves and concrete muscles turned all
soft. He also got a strangely tingling sensation all over.
They had only met briefly, much in the way ships would meet on
the ocean of life - provided that we're talking about a rather
sturdily built battle cruiser and the biggest of mammoth tankers
It had been a classic case of 'love at first sight'. Cronos only
needed to see her many folds of flesh move in an unconsciously
seducing way and instantly lost all remains of sense he had ever
possessed. She, for her part, needed only to lay eyes on his
bulging muscles and square face and she, too, lost all what may
once have been sense.
Their bodies had clashed violently, excitingly. Apart from "Will
you still respect me tomorrow?" and "Yes, of course!", their love
and devotion had not been of many words - yet it had destroyed
cities, ruptured continents, drained oceans and shuddered the
Cronos had slept for a week. She had smoked an industry quality
cigar. He had slept for another week.
When he had finally woken up, she was just having her coal
restocked at the local mine. He had written her a letter in which
he had told her he could not possibly stay with her any longer.
He didn't consider himself a family man and, more importantly, he
did not want Penelope Sunflower to be a mercenary's spouse. She
deserved better. A prince or an emperor - or a paperboy, for that
matter. He emphasized that he really, utterly and devoutly loved
her but that nonetheless her future would not be a happy one if
she were to stay with him.
He had left Penelope Sunflower, the greatest love of his life.
For months after, he had not been able to cross a bridge without
stopping and thoughtfully gazing in the distance, talking to
himself full of remorse with his hands on the railing. He had
not been able to look at happy couples without a sullen growing
ache in his heart.
Penelope Sunflower had not even got to reading the heart-rending
letter. When she had heard that the local coal stock had switched
to gas, she had got a stroke that had killed off her last
remaining brain cells. Her last cry had torn the skies asunder,
causing global atmospherical changes on her planet and its two
moons. Her last few tears had flooded a medium-sized metropolis.
Her last sigh had wrecked a building.
Medical assistance had arrived too late, mainly due to sudden
heavy weather and a mysterious flood. Penelope Sunflower, the
only woman ever to get Cronos Warchild engaged in something
else than killing, had been no more.
Scientists had, however, been able to dig from her womb a foetus
two weeks old. With the latest in medical equipment they had
assured its survival.
"No! Please! Penelope! Don't!"
Warchild was sweating in a rather somewhat too profuse way.
Another one of those 'wet dreams' of his.
He opened his eyes, gazing straight into a pair of shades,
topped by a viciously cool baseball cap. On the bright green
jacket of the youth who was wearing these items he could see the
initials "BK". Closest to his head were a pair of viciously cool
While he had had his eyes closed, he had hoped it was all but a
nightmare. He had hoped that he would open his eyes to the fungi-
stained ceiling supported by four fungi-stained walls in the
cheapest of all motels.
Alas. It wasn't. Not even slightly.
"Hi," the youth said as if trying to ascertain Cronos that he
wasn't dreaming, "I am Cronos Warchild Jr., son of the late
Penelope Sunflower - may she rest in peace forever in the
Platonic Ocean on Bulbobkov Gamma."
The boy seemed to have trouble swallowing something.
Cronos' lower jaw lowered itself abruptly and unconsciously.
"I am the coolest person this side of Klaxos 9," the juvinile
proceeded, "and therefore you may call me the Bitmap Kid."
The major problem with the Bitmap Brothers is that they seem to
be so flippin' brilliant. Less than half a year ago they coughed
up the only real competition to "Lemmings", and now again they
have produced a game that will, here's the first cliché, set
standards for those who have to follow.
"Magic Pockets", for that is the game of which I am talking, is
a very, very good game.
But before I get down to the rating - which is fairly obvious as
well as fairly high - I will try to tell you something about the
game with some more attention to detail.
In "Magic Pockets" you are Cronos Warchild Jr. Oddly enough,
he's constantly referred to as the Bitmap Kid. He is a little
chap who is possibly even cooler than Spaz (of TLB, ED.), and
definitely more trendy.
One day he was being his usual cool self and a Strange Old Man
all of a sudden handed him a pair of Mystical Trousers. And (yes,
you're quite right) these Mystical Trousers had Magic Pockets.
These Magic Pockets made it possible for him to store limitless
quantities of toys and sweet things there - up to bikes and even
Unfortunately, he could not find any of his toys back. The
people living in his pockets (yes, the Pocket Land People) had
nicked them all. So what he did was basically putting his hand in
his pocket, taking out a Black Hole and stepping into it.
Next thing he knew, his entire awfully cool being was in Pocket
In Pocket Land, there are loads of baddies and mindinfestingly
huge amounts of bonuses of all possible kinds. The baddies have
to be killed and the bonuses have to be collected. Kid's best
toys have to be sought and taken to the exit. There are four
worlds, and each world has its own 'best toy' that can be found.
Each world consists of five sections plus a 'best toy section'
(where use of a world's bonus toy has to be put into practice) -
and these are quite huge by any means.
When Kid starts the game, he has only one weapon - but what
weapon! He can use his Pocket Power, which basically means that
he can throw four different sizes of portable whirlwinds that can
damage or even catch opponents. He can even spin off the biggest
of these and kill all baddies he will touch without dying
Bonuses also include other weapon systems. Some of these are a
"Speedball Helmet" (walking into a bad person will kill him) and
the "Laser Helmet" (which will kill a bad person by shooting).
There is more, but I'd hate to spoil everything by revealing it
in a review already.
Further bonuses usually get down to a score increase that can
vary from anything between 100 points and many points. Like in
"Gods", the enemies are 'intelligent', and virtually anything
that you do has some effect on other things. If you're doing very
well, for example, you're likely to get much better bonuses. If
you're not playing all too well, you might get extra lives to
help you out. Basically, the better you play, the more you get.
In further worlds, the whirlwinds will be replaced by clouds
(that you have to stand on top of in order to spin), Ice-T-Cubes
and Snowballs - the latter two can not be spun off.
Although I am not going to reveal further specifics of further
levels, I can assure you that there are quite some more original
aspects to be expected - new monsters with other intelligence and
the growing....no. I almost revealed too much.
Find out yourself.
I could go through great length to describe the beauty of the
graphics, the incredible playability and all that. If I would do
that, however, I would be making it virtually impossible to write
a decent review of a good game in the future.
Let me tell you that loading times are short. Further disk
accesses are minimal and, once more, short. Kid control is smooth
and responsive. There are no proper words. There are no fitting
descriptions. It's just very good.
I could fit in some criticism, however, and I will take that
chance with both hands. I have managed to come up with five
1) The game does not save any hiscores. I really dislike that.
2) The scrolling is quite bad. The entire screen is scrolled and
only a few things are put on top of it by means of 'status line'
and score. This is just begging for use of sync scrolling. I
sincerely hope the Bitmaps will learn how to do this one day.
3) The process of 'spinning' off the whirlwinds is not
adequately explained in the manual. This is, however, absolutely
essential to the game by the end of the first section. For those
who still don't know, I will reveal it here: You have to blow the
biggest whirlwind, step into it and then press joystick down.
4) You can only have a maximum of five lives. Even if you
collect more, if you lose one you'll have only four.
5) Although you do have three credits, allowing you to die
completely three times while enabling you to continue on the
level you died, you do not get passwords and such. This means
that, after three credits have been used, you have to start at
level one. This is very frustrating! The manual sez you can warp
to the beginning of the next world in each first section of a
world, but it is not revealed where and how. I think the reward
of getting to world x should be to get to know the secret warp in
world x-1! This is very frustrating.
Concluding, "Magic Pockets" is an extremely playable and very
frustrating game - and a brilliantly produced one at that! Sounds
are scarse but very functional, and the visuals are by graphics
Deity Mark Coleman. When you play this game, you really feel that
lots of thought went into the design of the monsters as well as
the levels themselves.
It is almost frightening to realise the regularity with which
the Bitmap Brothers can do games like "Gods" and "Magic Pockets".
Although the feeling sometimes becreeps me that we're overrating
these guys, I have to defend them. They are excellent. Their
games are some of the very best you can get.
If only they were programming shareware for Llamasoft...
Buy it (or, to have it in Stefan's mode of speach: "If you don't
buy it you haven't lived!").
Title: Magic Pockets
Company: Bitmap Brothers/Renegade
Value for money: 9
Overall rating: 9+
Hardware: Colour monitor/DS disk drive/
Remark: Brilliant game. Shame about the few
points of criticism!
Many thanks to ACN for the review copy! I am, once again, deeply
indebted to you...
For days I have had a tough time playing "Magic Pockets". One of
the five little points of criticism that I mentioned in the
review above (the one about the game not revealing how to warp
when you deserve to know) was really being a nuisance.
Until I ran across an issue of a rather nice English games mag
with a nullifying name. I took the liberty to nick their text and
copy it here. All credit goes to them, of course.
So there. Crap revenge (inside joke).
From level 1 to level 2
Assuming that you've played the game a bit, getting to the
second secret room should be a metaphorical picnic. So go there,
then. Make use of the Power Up system to trap the mad flying bat
and burst the bast. Collect the resulting silver star before you
pick up the gold one which was in the room when you arrived. If
you'd alreafy taken it then the teleport won't work. Hmmm.
Perhaps I should have mentioned that bit before hand. Then
collect the teleporting helmet and you're away.
From level 2 to level 3
Once again locate the second secret room, which you should be
able to recognise by a Venus Fly Trap. There should also be a
silver star in here which you should collect. Use the sweet
machine to produce at least ten sweets, allowing the Venus Fly
Trap to eat them. Then trap and burst him, and a gold star should
appear. Er, hang on. Have you already picked up the silver star?
Oh, I told you, didn't I? Ahem - I've just remembered that the
order to collect the stars is gold then silver (closely followed
by teleport helmet). Sorry about that.
From level 3 to level 4
Continue as normal throughout the first section, taking note of
the first water-filled gap that you come across. Continue until
you come across the diver's helmet which you should, yep, pick up
and shove in your (magic) pockets. Traipse back to the
aforementioned water and plunge in. The helmet now allows you to
swim down, so do so until you can see and collect the silver
chalice - which should in turn reveal the teleport helmet.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.