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.