LGR – Hocus Pocus – DOS PC Game Review
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LGR – Hocus Pocus – DOS PC Game Review

September 5, 2019


[typing] Oh, yeah, we’ve got quite the tale to explore here on LGR today. It’s a story about three sisters who were witches, and they come back to life hundreds of years later in the city of Salem, Massachusetts, where Bette Midler and– Oh, wait, what? Oh, so it’s not that? Oh, okay. Well, uh, the person off-camera there that does not exist informs me that this is the wrong thing I’m describing here. We’re not taking a look at “Hocus Pocus.” No. We’re taking a look at… Hocus Pocus, developed by Moonlight Software, in conjunction with Apogee Software, and published by Apogee
in 1994 for DOS PCs. This is one of the Shareware
games designed by Mike Voss who before this was
known for Clyde’s Adventure. Hocus Pocus is one of the few Apogee titles I didn’t get to try until only
a handful of years ago, but I played the crap out of Clyde as a kid, so when I did get around to this, it felt mighty familiar. That’s a review for another day, though, because this is Hocus Pocus, Abracadabra, Newport News, Walla Walla, Washington. This is also the FormGen
retail version of the game, which came with the full version in a box sold in stores so you didn’t have to order
it directly from Apogee. Inside the box, you get some gaming magic on a 3½-inch high-density floppy disk, some cardboard that feels exactly like cardboard, and a lovely color manual. FormGen’s manuals were always great, and I still love thumbing through
these things just to reminisce, even if it’s a game I have
zero nostalgic connection to. Pocus Hocus begins with a plea
that you don’t copy that floppy, and a splash screen showing an evil monk doing the first part of the YMCA. Next you’re given the main menu, complete with a star field
screensaver in the background and a selection of options
that spell “BROIL CHQ.” Just thought you should know. If you feel like reading the game’s fiction, written by none other that Tom Hall, then you can do that, and it’s quite the silly story indeed. You play a mage wannabe named Hocus Pocus who wants to be a magician of the land of Lattice, so he can join the Council of Wizards and get good tables at restaurants. Oh, yeah, and there’s some token true love that you can’t marry until you do because… I dunno. Why not? Of course, there’s some dude
in charge that thinks you suck and can never become a council member and forces you to complete
a series of useless tasks in order to prove your worthiness. Yeah, the gist of the story is
about as phoned-in as it gets, but the writing itself is delightfully absurd and full of smirk-inducing jokes, so it’s cool. But, yeah, you’ve got four
episodes to play through and three difficulties to choose from. Easy is really easy, Moderate is really moderate, and Hard is really hard. So props to the designers for their excellence in difficulty distinction. Hocus-Cadabra begins with you
standing outside of a castle, while a pop-up throws words at you that involve the goal of the game. Basically, a specific number of
vaguely important crystal balls exist in the most inopportune
locations on each level. It’s up to you to find them because reasons. Reason being that wizard douche and he’ll frequently show his
impressively bearded face just to taunt you and
tell you how lame you are, but just ignore him and start walking because an adventure awaits! And it may not be Clyde’s Adventure, but it sure does feel similar in certain ways. For one, it’s the same type
of tile-based side-scrolling, with walking speed controls and very particular physics that makes the game feel purposely limited. And you’re constantly solving puzzles that involve switches and disappearing walls as well as collecting gems and other valuables, so the Clyde similarities are clear. However, the big difference here
is that you also have combat, and enemies that often spawn
in massive quantities at once. And I’ve got to say, this really
adds a lot to the experience, both good and bad. Good because it gives you something to do in between navigating
intricately-designed castles, and because otherwise
the game would be too easy. Bad because it gets old, hitting the fire button so dang much. Thankfully, you can pick up lightning bolts in order to shoot more shots at a time, but you’re still pressing the
button once for every shot. And there are rapid-fire power-ups that enable some seriously
satisfying firepower, especially when you jump while shooting or aim directly up to just
annihilate things from the sky. But it still gets old because there’s just so much of it, and the enemies rarely do
anything interesting enough to force you to change up the strategy of smash the Alt key. But does it bother me *that* much, though? Nah, not really. It’s just a
thing to complain about because I had indigestion and I was in a grumpy
mood when I played this. I’d just prefer if there was
some variety to it, that’s all. Oh, I almost forgot. There is. But it’s so uncommon and underwelming that it’s barely worth mentioning. You occasionally get fireballs that fly through and disintegrate entire groups
of enemies without stopping, but you only get three
from each rare pickup, and there are dozens and dozens
of enemy spawn points per level. But anyway, once you surrender to the fact that your keyboard is going to turn you
in for abuse after playing this game, Abraca-Pocus really is a
satisfying little platformer. Mainly due to the puzzle-solving elements, very much like Clyde, but a little bit less sadistic. I love me some tasty logic puzzles and the ones here,
while nothing earth-shattering, have a distinct punctual flavor about them. And what I mean is they never
truly outstay their welcome. Just when one starts to get irritating, you’ll probably just figure it out, and then maybe you’ll stumble
into a little secret puzzle that lets you enjoy the
treasures of a secret room, and that always tickles
the brain’s pleasure spots. This is one of those games that
with each level it makes you think, “Oh, no! Look at all those
rooms I can’t get to! What the nutsack?” And then a few minutes later, you’re like, “Yeah, that wasn’t too bad. I guess I don’t fail as a
human being after all.” In another nice touch,
every two levels the scenery, music and
monsters all change. Sometimes they do recycle
assets from previous levels, but the combination is always different, which really helps distract you from the
repetitious button-thrashing combat. Throw in some boss battles and the occasional level
composed almost entirely of teleportation navigation, and Hocus Pocus is a game
that changes up enough elements throughout its episodes
to keep things interesting without being *too* interesting, if that makes sense. There’s really nothing that
strikes me as particularly unique or groundbreaking about it. and once it’s over, you’re probably not
going to be thinking about it too much. But then again, I don’t think it cares, and is instead just happy being a competent puzzley action-platformer. It’s an iterative game that sticks with the
formula already established, but it’s also got ugly
monsters to shoot, shinier graphics, some catchy music, and puzzles that satiate without
wearing you down too much. It’s also still available for sale from 3D Realms and on GOG.com, so if you’re curious about it, then go ahead. Check it out from the comfort
of your internet connection. I can’t guarantee it’ll smother you
in awesome sauce or anything, but I find it incredibly charming. And if the phrase didn’t make me gag, I’d say it’s even a bit magical. But no, that’s lame. Instead, I’ll just say it’s pretty friggin’ fun, and leave it at that. [explosions] ♪♪ And if you enjoyed this review,
and would like to hear me talk some more, well, you’re in the right place. I talk in pretty much all of my videos and I’ve covered a ton of other games. Lots more from Apogee and there’s a bunch more on the way. You can also follow and interact
on Twitter and Facebook for that kind of stuff,
if you are interested in the social thing. You can also support LGR on Patreon which allows you to see episodes like this before anywhere else, as well as some other perks
that are hopefully of value. And it just helps the show
continue on in its current form and expand and all that good
stuff that it allows me to do. Yay! And as always, thank you very much for watching.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I completely forgot about playing this game when I was young. This was one of the first games I played on a computer. This and Cosmo.

  2. Daaa dum da dum da dum da dum da dum da dum da dum da abraca-poooocuuuuuus.

    I always wondered if I was the only kid who had seen that Bugs Bunny cartoon.

  3. I played this on a Cd that came in a Game FX book, and it also had Rise of the Triad on it and a topdown shooter. They didnt have all the episodes , i remember just playing episode 1 of most of Apogee stuff.

  4. Wait, Texrexin? And it was written by Tom Hall…

    Anyone who knows their fantasy help me out here. Is there a character named Terexin in some fantasy epic somewhere, or is Tom possibly referencing Catacomb?

  5. Used to have this game and alot of other games in one big box. I got it for christmas but I do not what the box was called again? It contained several DOS games around 50-100 DOS games I guess. I was 6-7 at that time. Any idea what the name of that collectors box was LGR? I remember it also had Dr. Riptide

  6. Pocus Hocus, Hocus Cadabra, Abra capocus <— 🙂

    You know, this kinda reminds me of Gods on the Amiga.

    Love the hammering keyboard!

  7. I loved this game growing up, it still holds up today, looks beautiful and I always loved the music as well. I know it's not that high on your list but to me it means very much, Thank you for the review.

  8. I only found out about you today with the DN3D nuclear winter review
    it's actually scary how similar we look, like doppelgänger kind of scary

  9. Holy crap I played this as a child! Completely forgot it but I remember those sprites! And the music at the end… damn.

  10. there is a doom wad called 'hocus doom' or something like that im sure some of you fellow LGR fans would like to try out. spread the word!

  11. Regarding 5:50, where Clint talks about the hidden rooms and complains, "What the nutsack?," may I agree with him, and say that's scro-dumb.

  12. DUUUUUUUUUDE!!!!!! This game DOMINATES the NOSTALGIA goo that is MY BRAIN!!!!! Sadly, me poor, so I be a dirty pirate, but I'll NEVER quit playing this amazing, old-timer!!! Kudos on all your vids man! You do a fine job!

  13. I played the heck out of this game on my father's DX4 PC back in 1995-1996 and completed all the episodes and the difficulty levels! It has its charms, though it's difficult to explain now that I haven't played it in more than 20 years! Thanks LGR for making me feel nostalgic and miss the old DX4 (which eventually became mine in 1999). Keep up the good work!

  14. Holy hell. This is exactly why I watch your videos; to remember games I used to play that I've long since forgot about. The second I saw the title screen I almost spit out my drink. Thanks again.

  15. The reason I love LGR is because the humor is understated. Even when it's absurd, or "random" it's not beating you over the head like most youtubers, who compensate for their insecurity in their material by being annoying. What? You go to sleep. You have work tomorrow.

  16. I don't think Turrican 2 ist popular in the USA, but you should try it if you really like jump'n shoots 😉

  17. Childhood memories. I always loved the game and especially the music that comes with it… Gotta start DOSBox one more time!

  18. This definitely reminds me a lot of Clyde's Adventure and Clyde's Revenge. Speaking of which, you should totally get around to reviewing those games at some point. I had a lot of fun with them back in the day. 😀

  19. I remember playing the shareware version of this back in 1994 on a 486 equipped with an 8 bit Sound Blaster. The game was fun, but the music made it memorable.

  20. This is actually one of the first PC games I ever played. When we got our first PC in 1993/94, a Compaq Presario 486, my sister and I were each allowed to pick one shareware CD to go along with it. I chose the one with Raptor: Call of the Shadows, my sister chose the one with Hocus Pocus. Both turned out to be excellent picks, despite neither of us knowing the first thing about playing PC games yet.

  21. I got this game in the complete Anthology collection I got as a gift from backing Rad Rodgers on kickstarter.

  22. This brings back so many happy memories. I recently watched a doom mod of this and got to experience it in 3d and that was equally nostalgically awesome.

  23. Oh gosh I used to play this as an 8 year old.. I'm now a professional magician and I wonder if this game played a part! 🤓

  24. This pretty much catches my own feelings about this game perfectly. 😐 I mean in all the little details, even.

    Impressed. 🙂

  25. My family's copy came on CD-ROM, our first game on CD.

    Yet all our other Apogee software was on floppy.

  26. Oh yeah! There's a Doom mod for this now! It's a pretty good Doom mod.

  27. Saw this on sale for $1 at GoG and thought "eh, why not, add another Apogee game to my collection", and yes, it's charming, but it's also the very definition of "mediocre".Only one weapon, monsters that are just re-skins of previous monsters, levels that tend to blend together. It's not a "bad" game perse, but it could have been much better with a few tweaks/additions.

  28. Can you do a review of Comanche? I see it in the background. That game, along with Decent and Wings of Glory are among the first video games I ever played.

  29. I wish Clint still said cheesy one liners and acted goofy in his newer videos, he’s went all Serious Sam on us

  30. Even watching you channel for ages, I didn't knew you did a video on this childhood love of mine! Thanks (5 years later) for reviewing it! 😀

  31. Another one of those titles that I played extensively, but just the shareware version. Only years later did I delve into the next three episodes but I never actually beat it. Fun game though. I never played Clyde's Adventure but I DID play Clyde's Revenge which was kind of like Hocus Pocus without enemies. Fun times!

  32. Thanks for you post! I now remember that this was the game I played in the win 3.1 dos window that cause my family's computer to crash when I was a kid. When I reset it, I read in the readme file that they do not recomend playing it inside win 3.1

  33. 1:12 i didnt think anyone outside of Washington knew about Walla Walla. They have amazing sweet onions there, easily some of the best onions inthe world

  34. How weird. At the time I had a friend who loved both Clyde's Adventure and then moved onto Hocus Pocus. I'm fairly sure we had no idea they were made by the same person, as we were like 10yo or whatever.

  35. Oh. My. God. This is the 1st ever PC game I ever played when I was 9 in 1995 on my very first pc, handed down to me by a neighbourgh who decided he didn't need Windows 3.1 anymore and upgraded to Windows 95…. He just gave me the machine, and left me to figure out everything about this newfangled komputor I'd just acquired… including the screensaver password… which I did! I stumbled upon the files for the game, I don't exactly know how but… I guess it musta been saved somewhere in DOS or whatever…

    This HAS to be the 1st pc game I ever played, Solitaire and Minesweeper notwithstanding. I only had a passing memory of it and didn't remember what it was called…

    So many memories just came flooding back… I'd almost cry…

    Thanks for the nostalgia, man, it's amazing!

  36. I played Clyde when I was younger and all I remember was failure. Was definitely too young to understand the puzzle logic. Please cover it one day soon.

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