“Fight me! I am the
Wizard of Wor!” Per your request here’s a popular title that my predecessor
already reviewed. See Retrogaming Times issue #8 for Doug's Many Faces of
Wizard of Wor. BTW, congratulations go out to Doug & Elizabeth Saxon, who were
wed in November.
Wizard of Wor (WOW) as noted in the Digital Press guide is one of the best simultaneous 2-player home video games from the era. Inside the dungeons of the Wizard of Wor, you became a Worrior whose goal is to defeat the Wizard by going deeper and deeper into his dungeon. But you never defeat the Wizard - he keeps coming back and the levels repeat with no end. WOW is similar to Berzerk, in that you move within the realm of a powerful being, and enter his many screen-sized mazes (dungeons) and shoot at his minions. But that’s where the comparison ends. All movement by Worriors and Worlings is limited to only
4 directions and you cannot
exit the maze, but must defeat all the monsters to advance. There is an escape
door that opens and closes randomly, but always in the same place on screen. It
works like the tunnel in Pac-Man, but anyone can use it, after which it closes
again. The most significant feature is that of 2 player simultaneous action.
WOW may have been the maze shoot out game - which in that era, culminated with
the 4-player game Gauntlet.
Each level begins with the
Worriors outside of the maze with 10 seconds to enter willingly, or be forced
into the dungeon. You only fire one laser blast at a time, until it hits a
wall, Worrior or Worling. So plan each shot carefully. There are about 17
different maze patterns, 14 of which are random. [I only found 16 of them on
the C64 and Bally - got tired replaying] The other 3 mazes are special dungeons
used at levels 4, 8 and 13 (11 on Bally). Level 4, “The Arena” has an open area
in the middle, level 8, “The Worlord Dungeon” has only 6 sets of walls to hide
behind, and level 13, “The Pit” is composed of NO walls, and nowhere to hide.
An extra life is awarded to you the first time that you reach the Arena and the
Pit. The levels repeat, and so every so many levels you reach the Arena and
then Pit again. There is no time limit, but each level becomes increasingly
more difficult with the monsters reaching their top speed sooner and sooner. To
help you on your mission, you have a radar screen that displays the locations of
all Worlings, visible and invisible. The name or number of each level is also
OK so what is a Worling?
They are your enemy, and 4 of the 5 species of Worlings appear in every
dungeon. Six Burwors (blue) await you inside each maze – but they are slow and
always visible. As you vanquish the Burwors, they are replaced by Garwors, who
when defeated will be replaced by Thorwors. Garwors (yellow) are faster and are
NOT visible unless you are in the same corridor. Thorwors (red) are smarter and
faster still and likewise not always visible. As the levels increase, more
Garwors and Thorwors will begin play along with the Burwors. Once all of the 3
basic Worlings are destroyed, the Wizard’s winged beast, the Worluk appears
(actually starting in level 2). The Worluk does not intend to stay very long
and makes his way to an escape door – ending the level. If it’s shot, you’ll
earn a “Double Score Dungeon” – the next level. After Worluk is gone, the
Wizard himself may engage you in a battle to the death. Of course he never
really dies, just shows up later on. The Wizard only shoots in two directions
fore and aft, but he’s firing constantly. He teleports in, moves for a few
seconds and then teleports back out. After a brief delay, he teleports back in
again, usually a bit closer to one of the Worriors. As with the other Worlings,
if you shoot the Wizard, he and his shots vanish and can no longer harm you.
Shooting the Wizard will also yield a Double Score Dungeon.
For more information on
Wizard of Wor see:
Arcade Game Designed in 1980
Bally Midway (Tom McHugh & Dave Nutting)
Classic Home releases: Apple
II (Jorn Barger), Atari 2600 & 5200 (CBS), Commodore 64 (’83 CBM) and Atari 8
bit (’84 Roklan, Joe Hellesen & John Wagner). Rumor Mill: CV & INTV (CBS
announced plans), Vic 20 (CBM – unreleased). Unlicensed: Bally Astrocade (’82
Addictiveness, Graphics, Sound & Controls
Disqualified: Apple II (N/A)
Disqualified: Bally Astrocade (42)
The Gameplay is very nice
(8), and includes all the major elements save for a pause. Also missing are the
names of the special levels, and the Worluk and Wizard do not show up on the
radar. This is the only version that offers 3 levels of difficulty. 3 of the
above mentioned 14 generic mazes are slightly altered on the Bally version.
Maybe Bally is correct & the C64 & Ataris are wrong? The most significant
difference is that only the Astrocade gives you a Quadruple Score Dungeon if
both Worluk and Wizard are shot. I’ve forgotten/did not check if the arcade did
this or not. An extra life is earned for every Pit encountered, which occurs
every fourth level after the first one. The Graphics are wonderful (9), the
best of the lot, with the most detailed and colorful sprites. The Sound is nice
(8), in fact the effects are second to none. But quite noticeably missing is
the heartbeat (for lack of a better term) of the Worlings. The racing heartbeat
adds tension and drama to the game as it beats faster and faster. The Controls
are superb (9), but only once you’ve become comfortable with them. This may
take some time, and they are harder to fix and keep in working order than most.
The Addictiveness is great (8), but loses a bit due to the controls and lack of
a pause button.
Have Nots: Atari 2600 (34)
Bronze Medal: Atari 5200 (40)
Medal: Atari 8 bit (43)
Gold Medal: Commodore 64 (44)
OK, now if CBM would have
programmed WOW to allow you to alter the background colors, as they did in Omega
Race (another Bally/Midway title), just imagine playing invisible Wizard of Wor.
Every level would look like the Pit. You’d really have to fire a lot to see
where the walls are to find the best place to “hide”. I betcha that would be an
easy hack job to do, and hope that if someone does it to write and tell me, I’d
love to have that version on disk. Wouldn’t everyone? How about a Wizard of
Wor construction set?
With apologies to those Amiga
fans out there. I'm only covering the official (licensed) home releases on
these classic (joystick era) machines: Apple II, Atari 2600, 5200, 7800 & 8 bit
computers, Colecovision/Adam, Commodore 64, Vic 20, Intellivision, Odyssey II,
TI 99/4A, and Vectrex. Other systems either came out after this era, (NES, SMS,
ST, Amiga, PC's), or did not have many official releases (Bally Astrocade, CoCo,
APF, Emerson and Fairchild), or were overseas and hard for me to review
(Sinclair Spectrum, MSX, Amstrad, and Fountain). Sorry if I've yet to cover
your favorite game, but some versions are harder to come by and I really do not
want to rely on emulation. Good news is that one of you is going to help expand
my frugal Amiga collection, so maybe some day I’ll do a Many Faces of in the Bit
Come back next month when I
review the Many Faces of Gorf, (another Bally/Midway title split by the same 3
companies, CBS / Commodore CBM / Roklan), on the C64, Vic 20, Atari 2600, 5200,
Atari 8 bit and joined by Colecovision.
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