Read the review here.
“This is a hop-heavy game, with endless precision-jumping puzzle elements, and elevation-based navigation.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.
The Wizards & Warriors trilogy of NES video games has a nifty little spot in the 8-bit selection of titles. They are the sort of franchise that, if you mention the name “Wizards & Warriors,” every NES fan and even general retro gamers will say, “Oh yeah, I am familiar with those,” yet rarely will you see them in any sort of top-games list.
They are not terrible, but are perhaps punished for quite a terrible sin in the gaming world: Daring to be creative and push boundaries. Each title in the threesome does so in their own way, with mixed results as they go. Personally, as for many others as I understand, the second game, Ironsword, is my favorite. This is largely due to its password feature, remarkably high-quality soundtrack, and overall polish.
But the first game, this one, the original, deserves an amount of credit. If you sit down and play it today, and have an awareness of the NES life cycle, it truly plays like an early 1990’s title, in my opinion. It plays like it is made by a developer who has learned how to push the envelope after several other cartridges, and now has a vast adventure that scrolls in all directions, has a daring slot-based inventory system, makes the player somehow engage in both item-finding and precision-jumping puzzles without feeling too tedious, and even presents a medieval fantasy setting that, while somewhat generic, will serve as the foundation for what eventually becomes a fleshed-out storyline across multiple carts.
Yet it was released in 1987. That is very, very early for a video game on the NES, and it compares favorably to many other games released that year. Of course, it has its flaws, too, thus why I did not rate it higher. However, I thoroughly recommend giving the series a second chance, if you have long forgotten them, or picking them up and giving them a try if you have never encountered them before.
Fun Fact: This was Rare’s second NES game they worked on, after Slalom. The fairly impressive graphics and sound, especially for the particular time, speak well to Rare’s reputation.
Read The Full Review For: The tale of how to start a video game trilogy, a couple of familiar tropes encountered, some alliteration, innovation, and a bit of the old ultraviolence.
NES Gameplay Tips for Wizards & Warriors: Be super careful when traveling upward, take the “measure twice, act once” approach to precision jumping, constantly swing your sword around to deflect incoming randomly generated flying enemies, and do not be afraid to take part in the cheap tactic of sitting in one spot to constantly kill those foes to generate gems and healing meat as needed. Oh, and the throwing dagger is absolutely essential. It is not optional. You have no chance without it.