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May 10

Give Me Wizardry!

In the early 1980s, a company called Sir-Tech released a computer game titled Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. The game, heavily inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, was a huge success, spawning an entire series of games before the American division of Sir-Tech folded in the early 2000s due to a variety of reasons. Interestingly, the Canadian division is apparently still in business.

I first became acquainted with the series through the NES port of Wizardry I, and later of Wizardry II, plus the SNES version of Wizardry V. For some reason, the series didn’t do that well console-wise here in the States, though it’s apparently a phenomenon in Japan. One of the various console collections released in Japan was a collection of Wizardry I through III, on the SNES.

Earlier today, I found out that someone had patched said collection into English. So I eagerly downloaded it, since II was the only one of the first three I’ve actually beaten (And I’ve never even played III). So I fire up Wizardry I, and create my party. They were ready. They were willing. They were gonna kick Werdna’s butt and do the Mad Overlord proud!

Roughly 5 minutes later, 2 of the six party members were dead, a third was paralyzed, and I had no real recourse for bringing them back short of wiping out the entire party and creating a new one. I had apparently forgotten how hard it actually was to get started in these games.

And that’s when I got to thinking: There’s almost no way the learning curve on these games would fly today. Reviewers and gamers alike would dismiss them as being way too hard to actually get anywhere in (Indeed, this session served as a reminder of why I never really got anywhere in this game, even with a strategy guide for help–a guide that actually encouraged use of the Reset button to get yourself out of a tight spot…THAT’S how hard the Wizardry series actually was). This isn’t even getting into some of the fun unexpected ways to obliterate your entire party (My personal favorite: casting a teleportation spell such that you reappear high above the city and go crashing to the ground–and your party’s collective death). And the way Wizardry works, once your party members are dead, it is VERY hard to bring them back to life (Hence the “quickly reset before the death scene plays out” method of survival).

Despite that, I’m having fun thus far. After learning some restraint in the early game–Level 1 Thieves are in fact totally incompetent at disarming traps–I seem to be up and rolling in Wizardry I for the moment. Fun stuff, this Wizardry.

10 comments

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  1. MatrixTN

    Where did you find that (Wiz 1-3 trilogy patched)? I’ve got Wiz 1 myself on Apple II. Just remember: Trebor sux! (interestingly, i have the screenshot of that from the site using it as a wallpaper sometimes.

  2. James

    Two Thoughts:

    1-The Wizardry series is a lot of fun! I’ve played through the US console releases (1 and 2 on the NES, 5 on the SNES) and gotten pretty far in 8 on the PC. In fact, in your previous post about PC Gaming computers Wizardry 8 was the first game that came to mind. Good luck and watch out for those Were-Bears (and are you prepared to kill Murphy’s Ghost 200 times for exp?)

    2-Since you’re a Tyson afficianado, I had to rewatch the Tyson-Douglas bout of 1990 as it was shown on ESPN this evening. I wanted to see for myself if the conspiracy theory was true– and it is!! When Tyson knocks Douglas down in the 8th round, Douglas is on the canvas (by definition per boxing) for a stunning 14.7 seconds by my watch. In contrast, Douglas’ KO of Tyson in the 10th round has Tyson on his feet at 8.8 seconds when the ref counts him out. Granted, I don’t think Tyson could have continued the fight at that point and Douglas would have likely flattened him as there was plenty of time left in round 10 (the KO happened at 23 seconds in) but still… I hate to say it, Tyson won that fight.

    Odd sidenote: I actually watched that fight on pirated HBO back in 1990– and it was probably the first fight I ever actually watched, due to my interest in Tyson vis-a-vis the NES game.

  3. MatrixTN

    Say F-U to any of the NPCs in either 5 or 8 for something interesting (pointed out at tk421 on both of their walkthru pages).

  4. emptyeye

    Well, the Wizardry I-III patch has its own page here. I actually got it pre-patched in a pack with the original ROM, which you’ll have to find yourself. If it helps, though, I’m told there’s a site that’s like an entire nation of ROMs…. The translation itself is pretty good from what I’ve played, though one error I noticed is that in the help menu you can call up (A neat touch, by the way), the Cleric spell Dialko (Cures paralysis, I think) for some reason has Madi’s (Fully restore HP) description.

    As for Wizardry 8, I actually own it (I think I have VII lying around somewhere too, oddly. Got it as part of a package at Costco long ago..may have thrown it out by now though). Never got that far in it, I think because of the Were-Bears and battles with anything but the easiest foes taking what seemed like forever.

    If I remember the Tyson fight correctly, it actually re-played not long after on free TV, because it was so unexpected. Being 6 or 7 at the time, and thinking life worked just like video games, I remember asking mom and dad something to the effect of “Why didn’t Tyson just Dynamite Punch him?” I was a silly little kid.

  5. MatrixTN

    Judging from the game selection screen, 2 and 3 are backwards (2 is supposed to be Knight of Diamonds, 3 Legacy of Llygamyn)

  6. emptyeye

    Yeah, I had noticed that too about the selection screen. This leads to all sorts of fun confusion at sites like VG Music, where they’re likewise listed backwards, and the music is switched too, even in the NES section.

    I’ll be honest, since I’m working through Wiz 1 right now, I haven’t had the chance to actually look at 2 and 3 and see what precisely is backwards, if it’s just the names on the screen that are switched for some weird reason, or if the games themselves are switched too (IE KoD is in the third position and vice versa).

  7. MatrixTN

    Bear in mind that KoD & LoL are sequels of the first and you have to transfer characters from PG for them (can’t create chars). That, and I’m only familiar with the 1st. Also, do you know if there’s a translation patch for 4 or 6? I have the Apple II version of 4 on emulator if not; as for 6 I’m dead in the water (have it for Mac but can’t presently run it as it was for System 7 which is years back and nowadays doesn’t support 16 colors)

  8. MatrixTN

    Scratch #4, that’s a different Wiz there (Gaiden, thought that was Return of Werdna there)

  9. James

    Was Wizardry Gold a compilation of games or a stand-alone title? I think it was a stand-alone but sounds like it could be a compilation ala the Ultima games (which never correctly on my PC).

    I’m pretty sure 4 and 6 were both released in US on PC (4 was “The Return of Werdna” right?)

  10. emptyeye

    Wizardry Gold was a standalone…more precisely, I think it was a re-release of Wizardry VII with some new features. I have no idea what Wizardry Gaiden is, though it seems to be a series of its own in Japan, strangely enough. I have no idea if any of the other Japanese games that came out on console (VI, etc) are patched at all. Although there are some options even in the un-patched SNES Wizardry I-II-III that you can make certain things English, I don’t know how much help they’d actually be.

    I know that you needed Wizardry I to play the computer versions of II and III (Which I guess means Wiz II and III were actually the first expansion packs!), though I’m not sure that holds true with this collection (Like I said, I haven’t tried it).

    Incidentally, in the late 90s (About the same time as the Ultima compilation), there WAS a Wizardry collection titled The Ultimate Wizardry Archives that I tried unsuccessfully to track down.

    And yeah, Wizardry 1 through 8 were all released in the US on PC and other computers.

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