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Cauldron / Hexenküche / Draculon
"Cauldron" Titleimage
Game No. 134
Voting 7.47 points, 34 votes
Company Palace Software
Publisher Palace Software LTD., Broderbund, Silverbird, Hi-Tec Software
Musician Keith Miller
HVSC-File /GAMES/A-F/Cauldron.sid
Release 1985
Platform C64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Enterprise 128, PC
Genre Platformer (Multi Screen), Shoot'em Up H-Scrolling
Gamemode Single player
Operation Icon Port2.pngJoystick
Media Diskette Datassette
Language Language:english Language German Language:spanish Language:French
Information Successor:
Cauldron II - The Pumpkin strikes back

Description[edit | edit source]

General description[edit | edit source]

In "Cauldron" an old witch has to get hold of a magic broom into her wizened hands, which unfortunately is guarded by the Pumpking deep in the caves of the pumpkins (pumpkins are the deadly enemies of all witches). The Pumpking can only be defeated with a magic potion, whose ingredients are also inside caves and vaults. On top of that, the places are also locked, so that the witch has to jump onto her broom to search the surrounding for the fitting keys first...

Trilingual invitation to play...

Background story[edit | edit source]

Unfortunately, there is no official background story.

An (inofficial) background story says, that the witch named "Esmeralda Toadslime" has to pass a test duly for the next Walpurgis Night Esbat, to be admitted to the circle of witches after 121 years. On a paper she can read in her task written in rhymes: Brew a magic potion, destroy the Pumpking with it and seize the magic broom to free the country from the pumpkin plague, which the chief witches have caused by a failed experiment.

Aim of the game[edit | edit source]

The aim of the game is to collect all six ingredients, stir it together in the witch’s house to make a magic potion and with this take away the magic broom from the Pumpking. Additionally the keys to the caves of the pumpkins need to be collected first, which have been scattered randomly in the upper world at the start of the game.

Task according to the manual[edit | edit source]

A parchment was enclosed to the game, which outlines the task (not very precise) for the player in rhymes:

The English parchment
The German parchment
The French parchment

Design[edit | edit source]

The game consists of two different areas, which differ in design and controls.

In the "fresh air" the witch is chased flying on her broom per horizontal-scrolling over the territory. You can also choose to discover the “upper world” below the treetops by foot. In both cases a great number of enemies attack the witch.

In caves and vaults the game presents itself as Jump 'n' Run. Depending on the size of the cave, you need to jump through up to 30 screens, which contain more or less dodgy platforms. There is no scrolling but the game switches from screen to screen.

A flight over the witch’s house...
A visit in a cave...

Both game areas offer nice graphics with nice animations. Especially successful is the witch sprite, be it during flight or on the ground. Also the scrolling in the "upper world" is despite the many sprites well done. And by the trick to move the witch sprite closer to the rim with rising speed and at the same time raise the speed of the „flying“ sound the flying speed seems even faster. And all this without letting the controls become a matter of luck.

There is only music in the title screen, but this is very atmospheric. The sound effects are very well done and add much to the atmosphere. Here one should name the already mentioned „flying“ sound, the peppy crash and the stirring of the witch’s cauldron.

The neat idea to write in all the texts in rhymes perfects the overall picture.

Hints[edit | edit source]

Controls[edit | edit source]

A witch defends her witch’s house...

  • The witch is controlled by joystick in port 2.
  • During flight you can shoot forwards, diagonally upwards and downwards in direction of flight by pressing the fire button.
  • In caves and vaults you can jump into the corresponding direction by holding the joystick left or right and pressing the fire button into the corresponding direction.
  • Items are collected by walking over them.

Displays[edit | edit source]

The display of all relevant witch data.

The display at the upper rim of the screen gives you details about (from upper left to lower right):

  • Magical energy left
  • The already collected keys and items (but not the ingredients!)
  • Number of witch lives left.
  • The two parchments at the left and right could well be have been used to show the already collected ingredients. But this was not implemented.

Enemies[edit | edit source]

No matter if in the upper world or in a cave: a witch has to struggle with a great number of enemies.

Enemies of the upper world[edit | edit source]

Generally, the enemies occur in the upper world in an unlimited number, constantly respawn and most of the time head directly for the witch. Some enemies, as e.g. bats, burst at the treetops and other obstacles. But this is not always valid and does not work for all the enemies. So, you are not at all save from attacks below the treetops...

  • Bats:
An annoying bat

Already the first enemies that attack us when leaving the witch’s house are bats. They are a real plague. Some witch has already lost her first life before even lifting up from the ground with the broom once. There are two different types (bright ones and a bit darker ones). They appear in forests, subtract 10-15 percent energy and get you 20-50 points.

  • Seagulls:
Seagulls are bats of the sea

Seagulls fly near the coast and over the sea, they subtract 15 percent energy and get you 75 points.

  • Sharks:
We won’t see more than a fin from this shark

Sharks swim in the open sea and and hamper grabbing keys or using energy spots close to the water surface. They subtract 50 percent energy and give 25 points.

  • Ghosts:
A classic bed sheet ghost

They haunt on the cemetery and make many a landing attempt become a kamikaze mission. They subtract 15 percent energy, but at least get you 50 points.

  • Plants:
One of the two types of plant mutations

There are two types of plants. One that shoots with pumpkins and one that shoots with "snappers" (the blossom). While the shots subtract 15 energy points and get you 100 points, the plants themselves cannot be shot and cost the witch a life when being touched.

  • Fire balls:
A whirling fire ball

The volcanoes of the fire island spit fire balls, which only fly vertically upwards and not towards the witch, though. They subtract 15 percent and get you 75 points.

Enemies of the underworld[edit | edit source]

Other than the enemies of the upper world, there is a certain number of enemies per screen in the underworld, that move (if at all) on fixed paths. The enemies only respawn when the screen is entered anew or the witch has lost a life in the screen.

We know some of the enemies already from the upper world. They have the same values.

  • These are bats, ghosts and fire balls.

An annoying bat A classic bed sheet ghost A whirling fire ball

But in the caves cavort some more creatures on duty for the pumpkins:

  • Skull:
A rolling skull

The skulls roll exclusively through the dust of a vault, they subtract 25 percent energy and get you 100 points.

  • Ribcage:
A walking ribcage

Matching the skull you can find ribcages in the vault, they subtract 25 percent energy and get you 75 points.

  • Bones:
A bone cross

Also the rest of the bones of a skeleton can be found only in the vault, they subtract 15 percent energy and get you 75 points.

  • "Snapper":
Pollen flight of an aggressive type

The blossom of the blue plant mutations, subtracts 15 percent energy and gets 100 points.

  • "Mandragora":
Unhealthy green stuff

The mandragora grows in the marsh of caves, is tightly fixed to the ground, subtracts 25 percent energy and gets you 250 points.

  • "Pumpkin":
The famous jumping pumpkin

The right hand of the Pumpking lures us inside the green pumpkin cave to his king. When you arrive there he directly attacks you! If one faces him without the finished magic potion, he will immediately lose a life, but with the potion in your hand the small pumpkin will burst without effect and you will get 2.000 points!

  • "Pumpking":
The pumking

The king of the pumpkins is the final boss, maybe the easiest in the history of games. It does exactly nothing, bursts immediately when being touched and gives us next to the magic broom also unbelievable 8.000 points!

The witch’s world[edit | edit source]

The upper world[edit | edit source]

The deep fairy forest...
  • The forests:
    Deep in the forest lies the small house of the witch. In the middle of a forest you can also find the entrance to the pumpkin cave (green door) and somewhere below the treetops may hide one of the keys!
The ghost-contaminated cemetery...
  • The cemetery:
    Beyond the forest lies the old cemetery. There you find next to the entrance to the vault (turquoise door) also a key between the graves.

The wide ocean...
  • The seas:
    Three big areas of water part the land from the fire islands. Another key can be found on the open sea.

Teh fire island created by lava...
  • The fire islands
    You find the fire islands washed around by water. On both of them you find one of the two entrances to the lava caves (red doors) between their craggy volcanoes. Also a key hides on one of the islands.

The craggy, rocky landscape...
  • Rocky area:
    The rocky areas part the woods from the oceans. The entrance to the mandragora cave (purple door) and another key can be found here.

The underworld[edit | edit source]

There are three caves and one vault. The lava cave is the only one that has two entrances.

  • The pumpkin cave (green door):
    It offers only a few screens long a home for the Pumpking with the magic broom. As it does not contain any ingredients and any premature facing of the Pumpking leads to certain death, you should only enter this cave at the end.
    Here the Pumpking entrenches himself...

  • The vault (turquoise door):
    Big, bricked cave with some mean corners. In it you can find next to the ingredients BAT and RIBCAGE also the VIAL.
    The humid vault...

  • The lava cave (red doors):
    A cave shaped by lava, whose left door can only be used as an exit. Deep in the cave you find next to the ingredient LAVA FIRE BALL also the TREASURE CHEST.
    The dodgy laval cave...

  • The mandragora cave (purple door):
    In this humid, muggy surrounding are FROG, NEWT and MANDRAGORA comfortable.
    The mossy mandragora cave...

Items[edit | edit source]

The modern (or better: old-fashioned) witch differs between two types of items:

Normal items Ingredients for the magic potion
Every door fits a key...
There are four different keys, their colours correspond to the doors, which they open. You find them in the upper world at certain places – however, not always the same key at the same place...
The toad...
The blood of a toad is needed.
The vial...
Of course the witch cannot carry the magic potion in the cupped hands.
The mandragora...
Roots should not be missing in any soup.
A (treasure)chest...
Treasure chest:
Its use? Uncertain! In any case it only gets you meagre 500 points.
The bat...
The wing of a bat should not be amiss.
The magic broom...
Magic broom:
The object of desire for which all the witches will envy us.
The bones...
Bone meal as binding agent.
The lava...
Lava fire ball:
The lava adds heat to the potion.
The newt...
Newt: And for the taste you need the eye of the newt.

Solution[edit | edit source]

General Tips[edit | edit source]

Hardly has one left the house, the trouble already starts...
  • Nine lives sound many, but they are very limited for a witch. Therefore you always have to keep an eye on your own energy and use every energy point that you pass. But you should not go a too long way round – this costs more energy than it will get you most of the time!
  • Every shot costs one percent of energy, so only make well-directed shots.
  • During flight (no matter at what speed) you lose one percent energy every four seconds (approx.).
  • Regarding the points there is no difference between shooting the enemy and colliding with him.
  • You cannot move on shifting platforms after landing on them, you can only jump away from them!
  • The witch can only collect two ingredients at a time, therefore she has to enter some of the caves more than once.
  • Enter the cave of the Pumpking only if you have brewed the magic potion!
  • Nasty: It can occur, that after losing a life you are respawned so unfavourably (e.g. at the opposite end of the screen), so that you have to go a long way round or in the worst case, cannot escape the cave anymore!
  • Easy: If one does only want a highscore, he just has to leave the house, stand on the energy point at the right of the clearing and wait. WinVICE user wait in the warp mode...

Map of the game world[edit | edit source]

Cauldron "Worldmap"
  • Fancy maps of the different caves can be found at - Game No. 30 under "Lösung" for download.
  • Nicely done, but not very helpful: The map of the upper world from the PC remake (see at the right)…

Cheats[edit | edit source]

  • The version by Remember leaves nothing to be desired: options are unlimited lives, no loss of energy, all keys and /or all items!

Voting[edit | edit source]

Voting of the C64-Wiki users (10=the best vote):
7.47 points at 34 votes (rank 273).
You need to be logged in to cast a vote.
C64Games 6 24th March 2015 - 6 out of 10 points - 22045 downs Language German
24th March 2015 - 6 out of 10 points - 20303 downs Language:english
Lemon64 7 24th March 2015 - 7,1 out of 10 points - 113 votes Language German
24th March 2015 - 7,8 out of 10 points - 19 votes Language:english 9 24th March 2015 2009 - 8,5 out of 10 points - 10678 downs
Ready64 6 24th March 2015 - 6,4 out of 10 points - 15 votes 7 24th March 2015 - 6,96 out of 10 points - 25 votes
The Legacy 6 24th March 2015 - "good" - 9 votes
Zzap!64 8 Issue May 1985 - 87% - p.110
Issue December 1988 - 81% - p.90
Computer & Videogames 9 Issue March 1985 - 9 out of 10 points - p.102
Commodore Format 8 Issue February 1994 - 75% - p.15
Commodore Horizons 9 Issue June 1985 - 9 out of 10 points - p.10
Commodore User 10 Issue April 1985 - 5 out of 5 points - p.42
Home Computing Weekly 10 Issue April 1985 - 5 out of 5 points - p.8
Your 64 8 Issue June 1985 - 4 out of 5 points - p.43
Your Commodore 8 Issue July 1985 - 4 out of 5 points - p.37
Happy Computer - Special issue March 1985 - (article without voting)
Issue July 1985 - (article without voting)
64'er 7 Issue July 1985 - 10 out of 15 points

Reviews[edit | edit source]

Bamse: "Outrageously hard, but endearing! The witch sprite is one of the best and loveable game figures of the whole C64 era for me."

H.T.W: "A game which stands out by the for its time good graphics and controls during the witch flight. Also the course of the game (search for keys in the upper world, find the corresponding entrance into the underworld, fetch the ingredients for the magic potion there and bring them to the witch’s house and at the end go with the finished potion to the cave of the Pumpking) would provide a long time of game fun... if it wasn’t for the insanely hard caves where the witch is steered very pertinacious and where you really need pixel-exact jumping and no mistake is allowed. Nine lives are just too little for the poor witch, 99 would be appropriate! For me the difficulty level of this game is a bit too hard..."

blubarju: "If the difficulty grade was not so high! The game has very much potential but it is just devilishly difficult. Due to the good graphics and sound I give 7 out of 10 points."

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

Fail in three languages...
  • The game is considered as one of the most difficult C64 games at all.
Flyer including a competition formula...
  • Next to the English version also versions with texts in further languages (amongst them also German) were available, which was rather unusual at that time.
  • The difficulty grade was eased in the version sold in 1987 in the Cauldron 1+2 Bundle, (Cauldron (C64, 5 1/4" Disk) Broderbund Software - 1987 USA, Canada Release). There every touch with an enemy only costs 5% and flying and shooting needs no energy. see Forum64 Language German
  • The German name "Hexenküche" (English: witch kitchen) is (in my opinion) a much more accurate name for the game.
  • According to Palace Software the underworld caves consist of altogether 64 screens, the scrolling upper world even of 120 screens! But the latter seems a bit exaggerated...
  • There is a bootleg(?) version of Cauldron named "Draculon" with Spanish screen texts.
  • The cassette version cost at its time 39,- DM, the disk version 49,- DM.
  • In the follower Cauldron II - The Pumpkin strikes back you steer instead of the witch the pumpkin, who wants to take revenge on the witch. The sprite of the small, jumping pumpkin was taken 1:1 from the first part and supplemented with further animations.
  • For the release of the game there was a competition in England and Germany, where you could win a golden witch broom.
  • The Amiga game "Super Cauldron" by Titus is no official successor of the Cauldron series!

Screenshot comparison of different conversions[edit | edit source]

The versions from left to right: ZX Spectrum - Amstrad CPC - Enterprise - C64

"Loading Screens"
  • Also for this game, there is no loading screen for the C64 but thanks to the "Cauldron" demos by Exceed, Resource and The Dreams the C64 has been given a FLI title screen.

"Ingame Screens"
  • The C64 version shines with multi-coloured graphics and fast scrolling.

"Ingame Screens of the PC remakes"
  • The two PC remakes (version 1 and version 2).

"A title screen from the demo"
  • Thanks to the "Cauldron" demo by Exceed, Resource and The Dreams the C64 got gifted a title screen in the end.

Cover[edit | edit source]

Cauldron Cover English LowBugetMC.jpg

English low budget tape cover ...
Cauldron Cover English MC.jpg

English tape cover ...
Cauldron Cover MC Compilation.jpg

Cauldron 1 & 2 Compilation ...

German tape cover ...
German tape ...

Video[edit | edit source]

Video-Longplay (HQ - cut 20 minutes version) played by TAYO

Highscore[edit | edit source]

Topscore of Ivanpaduano
  1. Ivanpaduano - 118.000 (27.05.2019)
  2. Bamse - 96.775 (08.10.2009)
  3. mombasajoe - 92.500 (28.09.2012)
  4. Camailleon - 6.825 (03.10.2010)
  5. Keule - 5.375 (29.07.2017)
  6. Robotron2084 - 4.000 (28.09.2010)

#2 Bamse #3 mombasajoe
#2 Bamse #3 mombasajoe

Links[edit | edit source]

WP-W11.png Wikipedia: Cauldron_(video_game)

Remakes[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Remark[edit | edit source]

The German version of this article on "" was "article of the month" in February 2010 and "article of the year" 2010.