Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Game of the Day - Wiz Warz

What you don't know, is that in the early 80s, Tempest and Robotron 2084 fell in love and had a child.  That child was Wiz Warz.  Unfortunately, that child stayed locked away and never got to see the outside world.

Wiz Warz is a prototype that was never rolled out and in the grand tradition of "Frankenstein meets the Wolfman", had features of both of its parents, but never met the promise of them.

That being said, Wiz Warz is a unique and fun game that relies on a great control scheme to differentiate itself.  In fact, controls so interesting, that I am inducting into the GOTD Hall of Fame for Cool and Unusual Controls.

You are a wizard and need to kill monsters and creatures of all types in each round to continue to the next.  Just like Tempest, you are anchored to the perimeter of the playfield and use a spinner to move around it.  But, instead of shooting down a tube or track like Tempest, you actually use a joystick to shoot in any direction (a la Robotron) as the entire inner playfield is free-form.  So, move around the outside (Tempest) - and shoot at everything by pushing the 8-way joystick in the direction you want to fire (Robotron).  It's a grand design that is both fun and difficult to master.

Another similarity to Tempest is the "zap" function.  Some of the monsters can leave the inner playfield and chase you around the perimeter.  Hitting the button zaps all the monsters that are on the edge at that moment (but not the monsters inside the normal playfield).  These zaps are limited, use them wisely.

Another similarity to Tempest is that each round has a different shaped playfield.  So when you run around it, you go in and out and around diff edges and crevices that change the angles you are at and the angles you need to shoot.  This is made even more interesting by the fact that your shots ricochet off the walls and you get many kills indirectly.  Keep in mind, that Wiz Warz is a VERY fast game.  So, navigating around all the angles and crevices while flying around quickly can be very challenging and chaotic.  Below is one of the later levels, you can see how crazy the design of the perimeter is...

Wiz Warz graphics are typical of the era (though not great), and there seems to be issues with the sound.  Poor quality and a lack of audio in some parts may be an emulation issue or may be that the game was never completely finished.  But, even with the underwhelming sound and the mildly-whelming graphics, Wiz Warz is a blast to play.

There are other fun details.  You don't just shoot monsters, but treasures that give you extra points and other goodies.  There are bonus/boss levels where you get points for shooting the boss as much as you can before he takes you out.

It's old-school brilliantly controlled fun.  The spinner/fire-with-the-JS feature makes it unique.  If you don't have a spinner you could theoretically control the running around with a left and right button or the left and right of a 2nd joystick, but I imagine that'd be a little difficult because the game is so fast.  If you do that successfully, let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's bizarre! I'll have to try that one. Hopefully it will play OK with my trackball.