Wizard of Wor - The Atari Times
A very good arcade conversion
by Horrible Robot SteveFebruary 4, 2008
Let me just preface this by saying that I'm very surprised no one else has yet reviewed this game. I can't think of another game from back in "the day" that I played, or enjoyed, more, than Wizard of Wor. Granted, until I was 12, I thought the word "war" was spelled with an O, but that's all by-the-by.
Wizard of Wor is a game where you control a tiny little man(s) with some sort of plasma rifle, proton pack, or what have you. The goal, according to the cartridge, is as follows, and I quote:
"-Vaporize all Burwors.
-Shoot every Garwor and Thorwor.
-Bulls-eye the Worluk.
-Beat the Wizard."
The creatures are blue, yellow/orange and red/pink. Most of the game will be comprised of the first two objectives. Effectively, you run your little guy around a Pac-Man style maze, but instead of eating dots you are shooting a lot of blobby monsters. The longer you take on a level, the faster the enemies are and the more frantic the music becomes.
If you do manage to kill them all, the Worluk appears; a spiraling white-yellow, whirlygig of flaily McGeeish death. You need to shoot him before he escapes through one of the two side passages (similar to the ones in Pac-Man, as well) or kills one of your players simply by touching them. Sometimes, whether you defeat him or he leaves, the Wizard will appear and teleport like crazy all around the screen, firing horrible lightning-pellets of doom and destruction. Or doom and despair. Whichever. You get a bunch of points for shooting these guys.
One of the coolest things I find is that you have semi-cooperative play. 2 players, each as a blue or yellow/orange man. You can compete for score, attempt to cooperatively destroy all monsters on screen, or have an all out frag-fest, which the game rewards with one of the highest point values; killing the other player. I can't tell you how many times I've shot my buddy in the early rounds, if they are the blue player, because they look so much like the damn Burwors.
Having gibbered on like a uselessly boring person for some time now, let me go on to this:
Basically, you blast the crud out of everything you see that is moving. There's a level of intensity here (or maybe that's only in my fevered imagination) that is nearly unmatched by nearly any other Atari 2600 game. Once you've wasted enough of the blue things, more yellow and pink things appear, and they appear with increasing frequency in later stages. The fun in this game is grabbing your friend or brother (as in my case) and just sitting down to a few rounds of all out spastastic button mashing and joystick breaking as you insanely try not to get overrun as the Wor things become more and more speedy. The yellow and pink ones also have a tendency to go invisible for short periods, where the small radar on the bottom of the screen comes in handy (unless you misjudge it, then it just gets you (or the other player) killed.)
A feature that is common in many Atari games, but works particularly well here, is the ability to only fire one shot at a time. You can't fire another shot until your current one hits something, be it a wall, a monster, or another player. This is fine if you are pointed right at one of the previously mentioned things, but if you are facing a long hall and suddenly something comes up behind you, you may very well be quickly losing a life.
On to the ratings:
The graphics are probably the low point of this game. The flicker is incessant, almost to seizure inducing levels. The more creatures on screen, the less stable their being seems to be. Everything is one color and not very well represented, which is common in this type of Atari game. It's not a terrible thing, just nothing to scream about. Honestly, the Worluk looks like a butterfly and the Wizard looks something like a half-moon face teleporting around the screen. Also, for some reason, I always think the Thorwors are female. They're pink. I stereotype.
The sounds in the game are extremely minimal. There's a firing sound, a death sound for players and little else. Typical bleeps and blips, they work fine. The music is a simple loop that speeds up as time passes, reminiscent though not directly a ripoff of the Jaws theme. The opening music always brings a nostalgic tear to my eye when I hear it. I rather like the feel of the sound and music in this game, however, and the frantic oddball stylings that accompany the appearance of the Worluk and Wizard is very entertaining.
Here's where this game really shines. I don't think I can summarize it any better here than I've spelled it out above. The only negative comment I have is that there isn't much level variation. There are two different mazes (I believe), occasionally with different coloration. The only way to tell you're progressing in levels is how quickly you are eliminated. All in all, this game is just a pantload of happy good fun.
The controls are simple, joystick to move and button to shoot. You can't get much simpler than that even on Atari. I do occasionally have trouble going around corners, if you're not in the right spot the game will make you walk further down the hall you're in, and sometimes, right into that oncoming bit-of-death.
In closing, let me just say that I'm ashamed of everyone who didn't jump all over the chance to review this excellent gem of a game from BACK IN THE DAY.
Not really. Get Wizard of Wor. It's awesome.
Eh, you should know of this game already.
Wizard of Wor
(c) CBS Electronics
I never thought the arcade pushed the graphics envelope anyway.
Wizard of Wor
Publisher: CBS Electronics
Graphics Score: 75%
Sound & Music Score: 85%
Gameplay Score: 90%
Control Score: 80%
Final Score: 95%