Definitions

Wizardry

Wizardry

[wiz-er-dree]

Wizardry is a series of computer role-playing games, developed by Sir-Tech, that were popular in the 1980s. Originally made for the Apple II, they were later ported to other platforms. The latest game in the series, Wizardry 8, is available only for Windows.

History

Wizardry began as a simple dungeon crawl by Andrew C. Greenberg and Robert Woodhead. It was written when they were students at Cornell University and then published by Sir-Tech. The first five games in the series were written in Apple Pascal, an implementation of UCSD Pascal, and was ported to many different platforms by writing UCSD Pascal implementations for the target machines (Mac II cross-development).

David W. Bradley took over the series after the fourth installment, adding a new level of plot and complexity. Woodhead went on to found the North American anime import company AnimEigo, and Greenberg to become an intellectual property lawyer and contributor to the Squeak open source project. Greenberg also wrote another game series, Star Saga.

The earliest installments of Wizardry were quite successful, as they were the first graphically-rich incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons-type gameplay for home computers. The release of the first version coincided around the height of D&D's popularity in North America.

Series

Ultimately the initial game became a series:

The first three games are a trilogy, with similar settings, plots, and gameplay mechanics. Bane of the Cosmic Forge, Crusaders of the Dark Savant, and Wizardry 8 formed a second trilogy, with settings and gameplay mechanics that differed greatly from the first trilogy.

The fourth game, The Return of Werdna, was a significant departure from the rest of the series. In it, the player controlled Werdna, the evil wizard slain in the first game, and summoned groups of monsters to aid him as he fought his way up from the bottom of his prison. Rather than monsters, the player faced typical adventuring parties, some of which were pulled from actual user disks sent to Sir-Tech for recovery. Further, the player had only a limited number of keystrokes to use to complete the game. It is generally considered one of the most challenging CRPGs of all time.

Wizardry Nemesis was an even more significant departure from the rest of the series. It was done as a "solo" adventure, i.e. 1 character, no supporting party or monsters. All players used the same character—no class or attribute selection—and there were only 16 spells (compared to 50 in the first 4 adventures, and more in the subsequent ones). It was also the first Wizardry title where one saw enemies in advance, and thus could try to avoid them. While it carried the Wizardry name, many do not consider it a proper entry in the series, citing its marked differences. Lending credence to this distinction is that while it would normally be the viewed as the 8th game in the series, Sir-Tech later released Wizardry 8.

Collections

The following compilations were also released for various platforms:

  • Wizardry Trilogy (1987) - the first three Wizardry games. Released for Apple II and C64.
  • Wizardry Trilogy 2 (1994) - compilation of Wizardry V, VI and VII—all developed by D. W. Bradley. Released for DOS.
  • Wizardry: Llylgamyn Saga (1997) - an enhanced remake of the first three Wizardry games for PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Windows.
  • The Ultimate Wizardry Archives (1998) - compilation of the first eight Wizardry games. Released for Windows and DOS.

Series in Japan

When Wizardry was first introduced in Japan, the lack of available information as well as a low quality of translation led to the game being far more seriously interpreted by Japanese players due to overlooking in-game jokes and parodies. For example, in early games Blade Cusinart was introduced as "a legendary sword made by the famous blacksmith, Cusinart" as Cuisinart and its food processors were virtually unknown in Japan and thus its meaning was misinterpreted. However, this misconception appealed to early computer gamers who were looking for something different and made Wizardry series popular. Conversely, the fourth game, The Return of Werdna, was poorly received as lacking the knowledge of subcultures necessary to solving the game, Japanese players had no chance of figuring out some puzzles.

The popularity of Wizardry in Japan led to the making of an anime OVA (direct-to-video animation), and several original console sequels, spinoffs, and ports. Most have not been released in the US.

  • Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (MZ-2500, X1/turbo, FM-7, FM-77, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2, NES, Game Boy Color, WonderSwan Color, Cell phone, C64/C128)
  • Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds (MZ-2500, X1/turbo, FM-7, FM-77, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2, NES, Game Boy Color, C64)
  • Wizardry I & II (PC Engine)
  • Wizardry III: Legacy of Llylgamyn (X1/turbo, FM-7, FM-77, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2, Famicom, Game Boy Color, C64)
  • Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna (X1/turbo, FM-7, FM-77, PC-8801, PC-9801)
  • Wizardry III & IV (PC Engine)
  • Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom (FM Towns, PC-8801, PC-9801, SNES, PC Engine, C64)
  • Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge (FM Towns, PC-9801, 98note, J-3100, SNES)
  • Wizardry VI & VII (Sega Saturn)
  • Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant (PC-9801, PC-9821, PlayStation)
  • Wizardry Gaiden: Suffering of the Queen (Game Boy, 1991)
  • Wizardry Gaiden 2: Curse of the Ancient Emperor (Game Boy, 1992)
  • Wizardry Gaiden 3: Scripture of the Dark (Game Boy, 1993)
  • Wizardry Gaiden 4: Throb of the Demon's Heart (SNES, 1996)
  • Wizardry Nemesis (Microsoft Windows, Sega Saturn, 1996)
  • Wizardry: Llylgamyn Saga (Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, 2000)
  • Wizardry: New Age of Llylgamyn (PlayStation, 2000)
  • Wizardry: Dimguil (PlayStation, 2000)
  • Wizardry Empire (PlayStation, Game Boy Color, 2000)
  • Wizardy Empire II: Fukkatsu no Tsue (PlayStation, Game Boy Color, 2002)
  • Wizardry Empire III (PlayStation 2, 2003)
  • Wizardry Chronicle (Microsoft Windows)
  • Wizardry Summoner (Game Boy Advance, 2001) published by Natsume
  • Busin: Wizardry Alternative (Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land in North America) (PlayStation 2, 2001)
  • Busin 0: Wizardry Alternative Neo (PlayStation 2)
  • Wizardry Traditional (Cell phone)
  • Wizardry Traditional 2 (Cell phone)
  • Wizardry Xth Academy of Frontier (PlayStation 2, 2005)
  • Wizardry Asterisk: Hiiro no Fuuin (Nintendo DS, 2005)
  • Wizardry Gaiden: Prisoners of the Battles (PlayStation 2, 2005)
  • Wizardry Summoner (PlayStation 2, 2005)
  • Wizardry Xth2 UNLIMITED STUDENT (PlayStation 2, 2006)
  • Wizardry Empire III: Haoh no Keifu (PSP, 2007)

The virtual reality game in the 2001 movie Avalon by the director Mamoru Oshii was loosely based on Wizardry. Oshii was a fan of this game in the 1980s. Yuji Horii drew inspiration from the Wizardry, Mugen no Sinzou (Heart of Phantasm), and Ultima series of games for making the popular Japanese RPG game Dragon Quest. Horii's obsession with Wizardry was manifested as an Easter egg in one of his earlier games, The PORTOPIA Serial Murder Case. In a dungeon-crawling portion of the adventure game, a note on the wall reads "MONSTER SURPRISED YOU." The English fan translation added a sidenote explaining "This is Yuji Horii wishing he could have made this game an RPG like Wizardry!"

Legacy

Wizardry inspired many clones and served as a template for computer RPG games. Some notable series that trace their look and feel to Wizardry include The Bard's Tale and Might and Magic. Wizardry also established the command-driven battle system with a still image of the monster being fought that would be emulated in later games, such as The Bard's Tale, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. Further, it also introduced the first-person perspective to games, which was fundamental to the development of the first-person shooter genre. Related to this, it was also the first game to use the now-familiar WASD set of keys for moving forward and turning left and right (the S was not used; it updated the Status display).

Wizardry was the first game to feature what would later be called Prestige Classes. Aside from the traditional classes of Fighter, Mage, Priest and Thief players could take Bishop, Lord, Ninja and Samurai if they had the right attributes and alignment. In the case of Lord and Ninja, at least in the firsts episodes of the sequel, it was impossible to receive all the attributes needed when first rolling their characters so they would need to gain levels to achieve those attributes and then cross class. Thus they can be considered proper Prestige Classes. Wizardry VI allowed starting with any class given you could invest enough time during the random character attribute generation.

Related software

In 1982, California-based Datamost published a utility for the Wizardry series entitled WizPlus. The program allowed players to edit most aspects of their Wizardry I and II characters, including maxing out skills and attributes.

External links

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