Wizards and Warriors
Box Shot
Wizards and Warriors
Platform: NES
Publisher: Acclaim
Designer: RARE
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1988
Reviewed by: Rob Strangman

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 that 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 guarding 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 find 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 in 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 of 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 forgotten NES games. It's worth getting if you can find a copy. It's nice to see what Rare was doing before Donkey Kong Country (shudder) and those godawful Killer Instinct games. I guess everyone's got to evolve. . .