STORY / GAMEPLAY
The hero is an ugly, old witch as she flies above the landscapes on her broomstick and explores caverns in order to collect the six main ingredients of a very powerful spell, in order to defeat the evil Pumpkin. To do that, you must first find 6 colored keys to the six doors, behind which lies each of the ingredients you require. Apart from the levels where you fly on your magical broomstick, there are ground segments that require you to run and jump inside caverns. There are numerous enemies that tend to be particularly tough to confront. The forests are swarmed by bloodthirsty bats, seagulls attack over the seas, ghosts infest the graveyards and the mountains are home to almost everything from balls of molten lava (launched from active volcanoes), strange objects like a set of teeth thrown from some sort of plants, to even pumpkins. The witch has a limited number lives and the game is really tough, believe me! Each life has a limited amount of magic energy. Use this energy to fire blasts towards enemies to kill them. If the enemy touches the witch, even more magic power is lost from this collision. Inside the cavers you may find ingredients for her own spells (she's a witch after all!). Once collected, the ingredients must be returned to the cottage where she starts and once she mixes her potion, she is ready to defeat the evil Pumpkin. Note that there are two sequels to Cauldron: the 1986 Cauldron 2: The Pumpkin Strikes Back and the 1993 Super Cauldron (available only on the Atari ST, Amiga, MS-DOS and Amstrad CPC). Overall, Cauldron is beautiful, a classic 8bit game and still remains among the toughest games in history.
GRAPHICS / SOUND
The ZX Spectrum version offers nice visuals with bright colors and smooth sprite animation (the Commodore version runs smoother and faster though). Although the backgrounds look a bit empty (especially on the underground section), still they are nice to watch as there are a few nice animated scenes (like volcano smokes, doors opening etc). Note that the CPC and ZX versions run on flip-screen (in contrast to the Commodore version). Soundwise, the game is poor. There are only a few typical sound effects during gameplay and no in-game music (as in all 8bit versions). The nice introductory tune of the CPC and Commodore version is missing from the ZX.