Normally, I don't like European games - something about them really turns
me off. Yet Rare Coin-It (as they were once known) has always been able to
turn out some quality games: RC Pro-Am, Cobra Triangle, and the NES
version of Marble Madness, just to name a few. Wizards and Warriors was another
one of their great games; it still had a European look and feel to it, but it
was really good!
Wizards and Warriors was the first in the now almost forgotten NES series.
The other games in the series were Ironsword: Wizards and Warriors II and
Wizards and Warriors III - Kuros: Visions of Power. There was even a
Gameboy game: Wizards and Warriors X: The Fortress of Fear. Out of all of
them, however, I prefer the original. It just seemed to have something
the others lacked.
You play Kuros, the knight. Kuros' quest is to find and destroy the evil
wizard, Malkil, who was Merlin's teacher before he turned to evil. Malkil
has kidnapped the princess and several other young ladies, and is now
hiding out in Castle IronSpire. He has hidden the ladies in the caves and
forests leading to the castle. Of course, rescuing them won't be easy,
since each one is guarded by a boss monster, and Malkil himself is
the princess. Kuros finds himself in the forest, where his quest begins. .
To reach the boss of each level, you must explore the entire area,
gathering gems to bribe the Red Knights who are guarding the entryways.
Some are relatively cheap (50 gems) while the later ones want 250 gems! Of
course, you are attacked by all kinds of creatures while searching the
levels. You start of with a sword to defend yourself, but later on you
a "Dagger of Throwing", which will fire a dagger out of your sword that
comes back like a boomerang (this gets upgraded to the "Axe of Agor"
later). You also find all sorts of useful items and potions scattered
throughout the levels; some are right out in the open, others are hidden
treasure chests. Treasure chests and doors can be opened by finding the
different colored keys that match the color of the chest or door (red,
blue, and pink). Treasure chests can also be opened if you have the "Boots
of Force", but if you kick open a chest that has another magic item, then
the boots will be replaced. Some of the more useful items include the
"Shield of Protection" and the "Feather of Feather Fall" (Huh? What kind
name is "Feather of Feather Fall"?) (Ed. Note: You can't even blame
that on the bad translation that most NES games got, considering
the game is British.)
The bosses are an imaginative bunch, ranging from a giant skull to a
spectre and finally to Malkil himself. One boss worth mentioning is the
Skeleton Changeling, who's actually harder to kill than Malkil! He starts
of as a tiny little skeleton, but every time you hit him, he gets bigger.
So do the bones he throws at you. These bones can take a decent chunk out
of your life bar, so don't let him hit you too much. . .
The graphics are excellent for such an old game (it came out in 1987).
Kuros is very detailed, and the bosses and levels are all nicely done. The
smaller enemies could use a little more detail, but they still look pretty
good. The control is a little stiff: Kuros crouches a little before he
jumps, so you've got to get the timing of the jumps down. The game is also
full of these steep ledges: if Kuros lands on them the wrong way, he'll go
sliding down to the nearest level surface. He also gets damaged very
easily; you will die A LOT in this game. Fortunately, there's unlimited
continues, which take you right back to the spot you died on. The attack
method is also a bit different...at the beginning of the game, you have to
ram your sword into the enemies, as opposed to actually pressing a button
and slashing them. The music is
pretty good - it sounds very medieval.
Wizards and Warriors is one of those classic, yet almost entirely
NES games. It's worth getting if you can find a copy. It's nice to see
Rare was doing before Donkey Kong Country (shudder) and those godawful
Killer Instinct games. I guess everyone's got to evolve. . .