The Ninjabot

Retro Review: Wizards and Warriors

Posted on October 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm by Stephen Janes

Wizards and Warriors Title Screen

Many people seem to believe Wizards and Warriors was a franchise that got better over time, but at least they started off on a decent enough note.

To preface this review, let me start by saying thanks be to Geek Legacy’s own Justin Cavender (@edgyarmo) for firing me three times in a month and making me play this game.

Wizards and Warriors is an action platformer that tries really hard to be liked, but falls short in many categories. It reminded me of that kid in high school who kept up with all the latest fads and fashions weeks after they were cool and tried to find his own niche by saying and doing things that everybody found weird but he was the only person laughing.

So essentially, me. I try to be cool, but I’m not, very much so like Wizards and Warriors on the NES.

In a good platforming game, there should be minimal to no blame for poor controls and the peril that results from it. Take for instance Mega Man 2, Ninja Gaiden, Contra or even the first Batman game. All of those had tight, responsive controls that made you feel incompetent or terrible at gaming. In Wizards and Warriors, your character (the knight Kuros) slides around after you stop moving the control pad, his sword swing is very awkward and sometimes, you can even kill an enemy just by jousting into them. The problem with the joust kill is that only some enemies are vulnerable to it, but they aren’t susceptible to it all the time. In other words, this is not a good platforming game, just in case you weren’t following along.

Wizards and Warriors Gameplay

The natural progression of each level is a bit different, but with no map or no concrete direction it makes it more difficult than is necessary.

What really confuses me about this game is how the progression isn’t always what it seems. For instance, in level one, you must navigate through an odd network of trees (yes, you must become an Ewok and even they can’t figure this out) in order to find the correct path and find the exit. In level two, you are underground and must find the correct cave path to the end, and the third level requires timely jumps, and ascension to get to the end. To the credit of Rare (who developed the game), each level has a different and unique theme, which keeps the game fresh. The level design itself is interesting to a degree, but the confusion of, “where do I go know” makes this game more of a challenge than it should be. You do notice there is no map for each level, which we will get into momentarily.

The inventory system and the collection of these items is not what you would expect. For example, refer back to any Legend of Zelda game in the franchise and think about how each dungeon has a special item that you need to find. This item will help you with the boss that lurks at the end of their respective dungeons and must be acquired in order to defeat that boss. In Wizards and Warriors, each level contains various different items that will help you on your quest, but are not necessarily required for the boss. In the first level, I acquired a shield, boots to walk on lava, throwing daggers and a kicking boot, but I found nothing in level two. I bring this up because level three was almost entirely lava, and if I didn’t get those boots to allow me to walk on it then I would have had a bad time, m’kay?

Also, when you receive the kicking boots (or the Boots of Force), you use the select button to kick. How often do you need to use the select button to attack?

Wizards and Warriors - Boots of Force

I appreciate the, “Olde English” style transcript, but why do I have to press ‘Select’ to kick an enemy in the face?

To be completely fair, this game does have some good qualities to it. You have an unlimited amount of continues with three-lives per continue, making the game possible to beat with enough time and determination. Although I’m not a huge fan of it, there is a lot of backtracking that needs to be done with this game. In each level there are three different colored keys with matching treasure chests. You can only open each chest if you have collected the correct color key. Chests might include gems, which are needed to reach the boss, or special items that will help make your game easier. In a few levels, I noticed that certain colored keys were hidden away toward the end of the level, while most of the chests that they responded to were towards the beginning of the level. Again, I’m not a huge fan of backtracking, but it adds another element to the game and extends the duration of the levels, even for an NES game.

Wizards and Warriors - Lava Level

I would have had no idea that I needed special boots just to walk around this level. No in-game inventory checklist or mini-map makes it difficult to track down treasure.

With all the different power ups, inventory items, enemies and levels contained within this game, Wizards and Warriors is a title that will provide you with entertainment and make you feel as if your money was properly spent. However, there are still tons of other games that are more polished and can provide a much more enriching platforming experience (Ninja Gaiden, Batman, Contra, Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Mega Man 2 and so on). This game is fun to a certain degree, but some people will find more enjoyment out of it than others. Personally, I didn’t totally hate my time playing this game, but I was itching to play some Castlevania afterwards for some reason, not that they have a lot, if anything, in common but because I wasn’t totally satisfied. Wizards and Warriors had heart and determination but didn’t leave a lasting impression.

Retro Rating: 3/5

In short: Some will like this game, others won’t. Neither is wrong, really.

You can follow Stephen Janes on twitter @stephenkjanes

    • This game rocks, I don't know what you're talking about Stephen. I like the character animation when you die. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

    • justin

      The game is great and the soundtrack is one of the best. Your ritard.

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