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Wizard Of Wor

1980 Midway

Atari 2600

 

Excellent two player top down shooter in a maze. The player controls a "Worrior" who has a gun attached to his back with a hose or line, kind of like in Ghostbusters. As the round starts the player has to navigate the maze and kick some monster boo-tay.

The thing is is the monsters not only shoot back at you, but turn "invisible" based on line of sight. As in you will only see them if they are in the corridors near you, if a monster gets too far away they will disappear. There are certain monsters however that can disappear at will and often do right when you are in front of them. They can only shoot when visible, and your shots can also block theirs. Two players can take on a dungeon simultaneously (player one being red, player two blue) but friendly fire is a constant danger. You get 1000 points for killing your friend. It is however in your best interest to play cooperatively as the game gets harder and harder as the rounds increase. Each maze has the Pac-Man like doors that warp around, however once they're used they close up for a few moments.

At the end of certain rounds you fight the "Worluck," who is kind of like a sub-boss. His thing is that he moves extremely fast and your movement is actually slowed down. After him you fight the famed Wizard of Wor, who teleports around the screen and fires short ranged magical bolts. If either the Wizard or the Worluck get through the warping doors then they "escape" and you get no bonus points.

The game has a perfect difficulty curve, everyone should be able to get through the first few dungeons without any problems but later on the challenge ramps up dramatically. Eventually the maze is filled to the breaking point with monsters around every corner. The drowning music is reminiscent of a beating heart that increases pace as the maze empties, doing a lot to heighten tension. It's not easy to invoke nervous tension and (dare I say it) fear in a 2600 game like this.

An excellent game all collectors should keep an eye out for.

Graphics: Simple yet flicker free and animated well. Not as detailed as other 8-bit versions, then again none of them are that much better.

Sound: Zaps and buzzes. The arcade version featured digitized speech which was not possible here. Droning music that increase speed adds a frantic atmosphere.

Gameplay: There is nothing like blowing away viscous hideous monsters in a claustrophobic maze and your friend too if he gets in your way.

 

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