It happened by 1984. I went to a local store to buy my first ZX Spectrum Game. My Spectrum had 48K (the 16K version was cheaper and expandible to 48K, but soon dissapeared since everyone bought the 48K one; 16K memory was too little even for that time).

So I entered the store and reached the 3rd floor (computers & videogames) and saw it behind the pane: Alchemist. I asked the shop assistance to let me examine the case. I read:

«You the most skilled Alchemist on Earth have been summoned to do battle with the Evil Warlock who is terrorizing the land. As you enter his dread castle you wonder if even your formidable powers will be enough to defeat this evil force…»

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Load ScreenMy English wasn’t good enough to understand many of the words in the game instructions, but becoming a magician in a magic world really charmed me. I bought it. It was my first bought Spectrum game. My Spectrum came bundled with 6 tapes (all of them 16Kb games, and none of them were adventures, which is my favourite genre). So there it was, my first 48K adventure!

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the game. 🙁 I wasn’t able to understand my mission due to my poor English: words like “stamina” sounded strange to me by that time, and I ended up frustrated of looking up the dictionary every now and then. I manage to visit almost all the rooms, but didn’t finish the game…
In game
Alchemist was programmed by Ian Weatherburn by 1983 while working at Imagine. He died by the beginning of 90’s (he presumedly commited suicide).

Almost fifteen years later, I was nostalgic about the ZX Spectrum age (it will really never die to me … ;)), and was talking about this game to a friend of mine. Surprisingly he told me it wasn’t so difficult, and that he was able to finish it. I run back to home, plugged my old Spectrum +2 (my old 48K was gone), and »Pressed play to give it a try.

My English, by the way, was much better than before. So I started to play and went back to the stamina food rooms (yes, that was the trick) and… YES! I finished the game. I felt very strong emotions that day. It was like returning back to the mid ’80s. But this time I was able to finish it. Yes… I was the most powerful alchemist in the world, and had succeded. 🙂

Late, in an emulator, I played and finished it again. I think waiting 10 years was worth the hassle anyway…

About the Game

Case & cassette
The game is very playable from the first time. You can walk or fly depending on your status (you can polymorph to a Magician or to an eagle). When walking like a Magician, you will move slower, but can cast a lightning spell. Beware of your stamina and magic mana. Mana recovers with time (just wait sill in a safe place) whilst stamina decrease with it. You will have to go back to the starting screen to eat some food pieces.

Recover the four scroll pieces and, once you have achieved this, go for the Evil Warlock and kill him (your lightning spell will be much powerful after you have completed the scroll).

Here is a nice map.


  • The music playing at the start screen is from J. S. Bach

  1. (#7) Damián: Hola y gracias por el mensaje.

    El rayo funciona para matar a los enemigos, pero es muy muy débil y tienes que usarlo sobre un enemigo durante mucho tiempo para que sea efectivo. Cuando consigas reunir las cuatro partes del “Spell” (es un pergamino divido en 4) tu rayo será muy potente.

    Creo recordar que tienes que usar ese rayo (potente) para matar a Warlock, el enemigo final.

    En WOS tienes el mapa completo del castillo, además.

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  2. Hola desde Argentina!
    Este también fue mi primer juego y lo recuerdo, pero tampoco lo pude terminar, nunca entendí bien el tema de los hechizos (spell) ni para qué servía el rayo del tipo :D.

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  3. Enrique, 😀 hablaré más adelante, te lo prometo.
    La pena es que tengo poco tiempo 🙁 así que no puedo escribir mucho. Pero lo haré.

    Además, tú serás el coprotagonista 😀 ya que las viciadas y los piques fueron contigo. 😛

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  4. Que no hables del Match Point y que hables del Alchemist, con las viciadas que nos pegabamos en tu casa, esta muy bien tu web, me gusta,


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  5. […] it wasn’t only the games, but also those moments we spent programming, investigating or just hacking with a […]

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  6. ¡Gracias Carlos! 🙂 Me alegra ver que no estoy tan solo en el hiperespacio 😉 y que alguien más pasó por esa experiencia.

    Igual te interesa, además, poner tu “chincheta” en el mapa de usuarios del Spectrum.

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  7. Este post podria haberlo escrito yo palabra por palabra. Alchemist tambien fue mi primer juego, aunque no lo compre yo, lo trajo un dia a casa mi padre. Era impresionante convertirse en pajaro 🙂

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  8. great stuff !
    played “harrier attack” on good old speccy. never got in touch with alchemist, but i can remember how computer games felt in the 80ies !

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