User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom (SNES)

69
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  D Michael (221)
Written on  :  Mar 01, 2006
Platform  :  SNES
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by D Michael

Summary

Changes nothing, gets better

The Good

With Wizardry V Heart of the Maelstrom, we are taken back to the single dungeon, single town scenario just like veteran players had seen in I-IV. There is little difference in these games (with the exception of IV where you play the bad guy) aside from graphics improvements throughout the years and some innovation in level design. While the majority of these early games in the series tend to be all different dungeons in the same game, something keeps us coming back, delighted everytime we do.

With this version on the SNES, the graphics blow away any other platform the game was released on (i.e. c64, apple II) and it should, considering the massive processing power of the SNES compared to these other platforms. It was never graphics however that made the wizardry series successful.

Staying true to its roots in pencil and paper gaming, wizardry V ups the ante by offering more puzzles than its prdecessors. It isn't sufficient to keep maps and have a party of end game characters to finish wizardry V, as later in the game you are forced to unravel various puzzles to continue. One of which involves the reconstruction of a mechanical humanoid where you must lay out the order of construction part by part to bring it to life. This puzzle doesn't involve random clicking, rather a common sense approach to an archaic mechanical device. It would seem that someone skilled in the artisan trade of clockworking could complete the puzzle on the first try. It is these subtleties that lend excitement to wizardry V.

The atmosphere has remained intact. For those of us that loved and still love the simple wizardry games and aren't sure what it is that intrigues us, this is it. There is something about the atmosphere of the game that spurs us onward, and wizardry V does not fail to deliver.

The Bad

Any fan of the Wizardry series will love Heart of the Maelstrom, however it is safe to say that the jump in design ingenuity is not as great from I-V as it is say, from V-VI (Bane of the Cosmic Forge) and beyond. Newcomers from the SNES era aren't likely to enjoy the game as much as some of the veterans from the old days as the market is flooded with RPG's and newer players wanted fancy graphics and sound, something that the series was not offering at the time.

SNES buyer beware! The game saves files by operating by a battery pack. These battery packs last anywhere from 3-5 years (although I have seen a Zelda game last for 7). Once the battery is depleted you will no longer be able to save your game. Being that the games was published in 1992, 14 years ago at the time of this review, it is not likely that you will be able to find any cartridge capable of saving games. Emulation with saved states is an alternative for the tech-savvy who is serious about playing on SNES.

The Bottom Line

The best way to describe any of the Wizardry games is to show it. By description alone it seems that most would not be very interested in learning about the series because the game seems simplistic in nature. However, with a unique atmosphere and creatively designed monsters, items, and spells, most anyone can learn to love this gem of a sleeper.