The Wizard's Castle
Description official description
A long time ago, the great wizard Zot forged an orb of power. He soon vanished, leaving behind a vast castle filled with monsters, traps, and great treasures including the orb of power. The player takes the role of a bold adventurer in search of the orb of power and whatever other treasures he can make it out of the castle with.
The Wizard's Castle is a text-based role-playing game. The player creates a character, choosing between the races of elf, human, dwarf, and hobbit, distinguished by their personal statistics (strength, intelligence, and dexterity). The player can also choose the initial weapons, armor, and items to take on the quest. When all is ready, the hero ventures into the dungeon.
Gameplay is in some ways similar to a text adventure, with text descriptions replacing graphics. Simple commands are used to move from room to room, consult a map, or look around. However, many times the player only needs to choose from several options for the current situation, such as during battles. There are vendors the protagonist can trade with, mystical pools which can give or take away power, warps to far parts of the castle, numerous monsters to fight and assorted treasures to find.
The game was originally written for the Exidy Sorcerer and was later ported to other BASIC platforms.
Credits (TRS-80 version)
Average score: 2.5 out of 5 (based on 18 ratings with 2 reviews)
When, some years ago, I had a quick look at this game, I though: Oh no, yet another of these ugly BASIC games from the beginnings of the IBM PC. Now I had a second look, considering this game is one of the first PC games ever publisher, and I have to admit that I was wrong. Yes, it really does not look good and you really need some time to get warm with the user interface and the basic game mechanics, but after a while, you get hooked.
Despite its simplicity, it actually has some depth -- you need a while until you realize how to survive and get better in the dungeons, how to use the different items, what to do and what to don't; you have to use your resources thoughtfully. For example, you have to consider that some enemy can make your weapon break (which leaves you completely defenseless), and that your armor only holds a certain amount of damage -- quite amazing for 1981!
Once you start feeling at home in the dungeons, it's time to think about how to retrieve the Orb of Zot. This is not so easy as you'd think -- you have to solve a clever puzzle build in the game to get it.
Another fun factor are the slightly goofy texts. For example, when opening a book, it may just be an old copy of "Playgoblin". I also enjoyed the irreverent way the player is treated when he does a wrong input ("Silly elf, that wasn't a valid command!").
And last but not least, the random generation of the dungeon at the beginning of each game makes the game highly replayable.
Well, first of all, the game looks really ugly. It's not just the fat 40-column text -- as old-time PC gamer, I'm used to that. It's just that the creator didn't really care about some structure. When you play the game, all you see is just a list of text lines, each one looking the same as the other.
Another thing that is quite annoying is that the version I played has a BIG bug: You normally aren't supposed to see all squares from the beginning, so you really have to explore carefully. In this version, you can see the content of each square from the beginning -- which makes the Lamp and the Flares completely useless and takes some fun out of the game. But not much. (I only realized that it was a bug when I had a look at some later implementations of Wizard's Castle, like Temple of Loth, Leygref's Castle or Mission: Mainframe.)
The Bottom Line
All in all, this is a very respectable game, simple, innovative and addictive. It looks may deceive, but once you're into the game, you can play for hours, just trying to get that stupid Orb. The author has made a great job of packing so much game in just 1000 lines of BASIC code. Considering some of the games of today (millions of lines of code, fun for five minutes), it's impressive.
Still, you shouldn't expect this game to be a full-fledged RPG. I would rather describe it as a quite innovative boardgame-style strategy game with interactive fiction and RPG elements. This is not only due to the boardgame-like design of the dungeon (8 dungeons with 8x8 squares each), but especially due to the fact that you really have to proceed strategically to get the orb.
The game was quite influential in its time (it was one of the first games released for the IBM PC), and it is no wonder that there have been several other implementations of the game. Most of them also look and play much better (and they don't have the aforementioned bug). The Wizard's Castle clones I'd recommend are Temple of Loth (which is quite faithful to the original, just with different colors which already helps a lot), Leygref's Castle (with a very nice user interface) or the superb Mission: Mainframe, which is Wizard's Castle in a sci-fi setting.
DOS · by General Error (4320) · 2006
The Wizard's Castle is a pretty solid title. It's a well designed game, although not perfect, that shows that there was a big effort in making an interesting and replayable game.
The game starts with a simple introduction that helps to set up the atmosphere. Many early RPGs didn't have a story and you would just start the game in the middle of a dungeon with no specific purpose. Having a plot - even a simple one - is way better than having none.
The gameplay is simple and straightforward but the game is rather complex, as it has many of the features present in modern RPGs: character customization, game map, many items like weapons, armors and magical objects, lots of enemies, a lamp and flares, spells and vendors to trade with. It's a very rich world for a game this old.
The text parser is easy to use and has some funny replies to your commands, without getting annoying. Usually you only have to type one letter to perform actions, like O to open, N to go north and L to use your lamp.
I said The Wizard's Castle isn't perfect, but it's mostly because of the technology. It's a text mode game so the map is a bit confusing. Also, due to the resolution, the map is not always visible. You must press M to see it and then return to the game's input interface. You find yourself pressing M a lot to remember where you are and what's around you. Also, the map's legend is on the help screen (H). So until you memorize it, you keep cycling the map and the help screen most of the time.
There's no character evolution due to experience. There are some spell books and water pools that can change your character - for better or for worse - and that's it. An experience system is crucial on any RPG.
Finally, the enemies are static. They don't move around, staying always on the same map square. As long as you can use the map (if there is light and you're not blind - yes this can happen) you can avoid them.
The Bottom Line
It's a nice RPG, having most of the features you would expect on an RPG. Later RPGs seem to have been inspired by this one. It's a solid game that you should try if you like RPGs and don't mind playing in text mode.
DOS · by Nélio (1982) · 2005
|Interactive fiction? Also, splitting||Tracy Poff (2083)||Apr 27th, 2014|
Since this game was written in BASIC and had its source code published, it has enjoyed all sorts of conversions to niche systems and similar languages over its long lifespan, including one for the Sharp MZ-700, Adam Biltcliffe's version in Z-code, an adaptation to Cambridge Z88 BBC BASIC by C.L. Fenn, and ports to the HP-41, TI-83 and TI-89 scientific calculators by Dejan Ristanovic, Raymond Mullikin and Alex Morrise, repectively.
Related Sites +
Port the Wizard's Castle to JAVA as a homework assignment!
Lab 2 of Williams College's Fall 2005 session of Computer Science 136: Data Structures and Advanced Programming posed this quandary (all right, a sub-set of it: "come to lab with a proposed design for the <tt>Castle</tt> class") to the students.
Temple of Loth remake
This is a remake of Temple of Loth (alternative title for The Wizard's Castle) that features colored text, some graphics and sound. It requires the GWBASIC (or compatible) interpreter.
The Wizard's Castle source code.
You can get the game's source code at this location.
The story of The Wizard's Castle
Armchair Arcade article where Joseph Power and the Derelict recounts the history of this game and its Windows remake.
Wizard's Castle Windows Remake
A Windows remake of Wizard's Castle.
- MobyGames ID: 7387
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Servo.
Game added October 7th, 2002. Last modified August 17th, 2023.