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Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (Apple II)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Frecklefoot (191)
Written on  :  Sep 18, 2007
Platform  :  Apple II
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Summary

Landmark RPG in computer gaming

The Good

This is the first computer role playing game I ever purchased. Actually, one of the main reasons I pestered my parents into buying me an Apple II was so I could play this game. It cost me $50 in 1983, which is over $90 today. The disk drives that came with my second-hand Apple weren't up to reading the sensitive Wizardry disks, so I had to get them repaired first.

But all the headache was worth it. I was a big D&D fan, but living up in the sticks, I rarely had anyone nearby to play with. This game was a great solution to this problem. Not only was I amazed by the flashy opening animation, I was enthralled by the gameplay. While the graphics were crude and splotchy by today's standards, they amazed me in 1983! There was a graphic representation of the actual monster I was fighting! Right there in front of me! Of course it was static--it wasn't animated--but I didn't have to remember what it looked like. There it was! I was fighting an orc! A skeleton! A slime! Woo-hoo!

And for the first time, I could actually see the dungeon from the point of view of my characters! The dungeons were rendered as crude line drawings, but in the 1980s, that was state of the art! Not even the staircases were rendered, but that didn't matter. There were the walls in blotchy Apple II "white." How could it get any better?

Though it wasn't strictly D&D, it was close enough for my tastes. Though it was just one dungeon, it was enough to satisfy my desire to role-play.

Wizardry allowed to user to carefully orchestrate his party's attack, just like all early paper role-playing games. And the party could consist of several adventurers of different classes (mages, fighters, clerics, etc.). Where in D&D I had to role all my own dice, the computer now took care of it for me, showing me my virtual "roll" versus the enemy's. While sometimes I groaned over the result, I couldn't argue that it wasn't fair. After all, it displayed my result, right there in front of me.

While I never finished this game, it gave me endless pleasure in role-playing alone or impressing envious friends.

While it was far outdone by later games (notably The Bard's Tale), Wizardry launched the genre and remains one of the most important computer role-playing games in the history of video gaming.

The Bad

Wizardry, like many early home computer games, was pretty unforgiving to the user. The player could only have one active game, and there was no way to prevent your party from getting killed when outmatched in a fight, or to back up and retry a battle. Once your party got killed, they really got killed! And the game was pretty merciless about saving the data to disk. If you pulled out the disk so it couldn't save the information that your party got killed (as I did on many occasions), there was a good chance that your copy of the game would become corrupted. Even though they warned not to remove the disk, I and many other players did, so as not to lose scores of hours of adventuring. The only way to recover the disk was to mail it back to Sir-Tech for repairs.

The Bottom Line

A great landmark computer RPG. Outdone by successors, but unmatched when it came out. Worth a look for any video game aficionado.