|Publisher(s)||KingsIsle Entertainment, Gameforge|
Wizard101 is an MMORPG created by KingsIsle Entertainment. Players take on the role of students of Wizardry to save the Spiral, in which the games is played, and battle a variety of creatures by casting spells using a turn-based combat system similar to collectible card games.
The game also has a sister game called Pirate101.
The fictional universe of the Spiral is divided into several worlds, each of which has multiple areas. Upon character creation, only some areas of Wizard City are opened to access. As the player progresses, more worlds become available that they can quest in, until they reach the max level of 95. These worlds are each have their own templates and story-lines. They are listed in order of the player's access. They are first granted access to Wizard City, Krokotopia, Marleybone, MooShu, Dragonspyre, Celestia, Zafaria, Avalon, Azteca, and Khrysalis. There are also optional side worlds of Grizzleheim/Wintertusk, Wysteria, and Aquila which can be accessed at predetermined levels by players. Players advance in the game by completing quests to level up, unlock new worlds, learn new spells, gain equipment, and collect gold.
The game holds a rating of "Everyone 10+ (E10+)" from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board for crude humor and mild fantasy violence. Although its target audience is 8 to 16-year olds, the game appeals to all ages.
The main storyline revolves around the player's character, a novice wizard, joining the Ravenwood School of Magical Arts (it is hinted that the character is from Earth when it is stated by Ambrose that they are "from a world that does not even believe in magic"). Upon arrival, before even beginning with his or her enrollment, the new wizard comes face to face with the main antagonist in the game, the previous Death teacher, Malistaire Drake. The player then finds that he has been causing havoc in Wizard City, haunting the streets with undead creatures.
Malistaire Drake, while the player attempts to defeat the creatures, has moved on to attempt to steal the Krokonomicon, a powerful source of necromancy, so that he might make his wife, Sylvia Drake, rise again. The Krokonomicon has been taken along with the sarcophagus it was in from Krokotopia to the world of Marleybone for research purposes by the Marleybonians, and the player character follows Malistaire to Marleybone.
Upon arrival of the great city the player has to go to track down the sarcophagus. But you can't get it until the mayor approves. He doesn't approve because the cities streets are unsafe due to a recent gang uprising. The player finally catches up with Malistaire in Big Ben Clocktower but it is too late.
Malistaire has fled the world with the Krokonomicon and heads to the next world, Mooshu. You go directly to the emperor to gain the Dragonspyre key, but Malistaire has been their and retrieved it and has caused the emperor to become very ill. You must go around the world to gather ingredients to heal him and defeat the evil demons The War Oni, Plaque Oni, Death Oni, and Jade Oni.
After he is healed he gives you a key to go to Dragonspyre. On arrival, Dragonspyre is a land that is in ruins. The Dragon Titan (the huge dragon on top of the Great Volcano) had destroyed the world in fire and chaos. Many areas later you confront Malistaire for the final time where he, unsuccessfully attempts to command the Dragon Titan to raise his wife Sylvia from the dead. You go into combat and defeat him once in for all, Malistaire becomes a ghost and his wife greets him and welcomes him to death and they vanish into the afterlife.
After the death of Malistaire, a new antagonist is discovered. Before you meet the new antagonist you travel to the sunken world of Celestia. After you explore the dungeons of the stellarium, lunarium, and solarium and explore the areas of Celestia you find Morganthe the Umbra Queen in the solarium. She tells you a prophecy "The Mirror Will break, The Horn will call, From the shadows I strike, The skies will fall" and she flees the world with the secrets of Astral Magic.
You discover she has traveled to the world of Zafaria, in search for her Deck of Shadows. After overcoming the forces of the shadow queen from the lion tribes of the Savannah, the city of the Zebra warriors in Zamunda, and the Elephant cities of Waterfront and Stone Town and finding the Missing students, the player discovers she has traveled to Mirror lake with the relics that the Forces of Light gave to the Lions, Zebras, Elephants, and Gorillas. She destroys Mirror Lake after recovering her spell deck.
The player travels to the world of Avalon the home world of Merle Ambrose and his pet owl Gamma in search for the Sword of Kings the Legendary Blade of Avalon once held by King Artorius. After you travel the expansive world of Avalon threw the large forest of the Weirwood,the castle's village of Caer Lyon, the Castle grounds of Castle Avalon, Lake Nimue, and the castle Catacombs, you face Morganthe in this world but as a kid in Ghost Avalon. After you battle her you travel to Castle Avalon to retrieve the Sword of Kings to slay the Pendragon and restore the land. After discovering the Pendragon is the late King Artorius, cursed by the Horned Crown Morganthe Tricked him into wearing (the crown isn't part of the prophecy), you give him a potion and the land is restored.
After Avalon, you rediscover the world of Azteca the oldest world in the spiral believed to be destroyed by the comet Xibalba ten years ago. After you reach Azteca the land is in trouble with a recent rising of the undead similar to what Malistaire did in Wizard City, Krokotopia, Marleybone, Mooshu, and Dragonspyre. After reaching the final pyramid the Pyramid of the Falling Star, you find Morganthe and her Dark Servant with Huracan Vicious sky (The Huracan Horn, The real horn in the prophecy). After he calls a portal to Xibalba, you follow Morganthe but it's too late. She completed the ritual where she has used a spell to crash Xibalba into Azteca and it can't be redirected. She sends her Servant (later to be revealed as Malistaire the Undying) to destroy you. She heads to Khrysalis (the homeworld of the Shadow Web) to learn the Song of Creation so that she can rewrite the Spiral to her own vision.
- Wizard City - A Renaissance-themed world populated mostly by humans that has sprouted around the grandfather tree called Bartleby. This is the first world where wizards visit and easily the most diverse world.
- Aquila - Aquila is home to the Immortal Games, an epic challenge hosted by the magical Immortals. Aquila is a "Dungeon Zone" in Wizard City and can only be accessed by the Chariot of Aethon in Cyclops Lane. Wizards level 30+ Can join in on the games. The dungeons have the most power gear for the most powerful wizards in the Spiral. There are three dungeons you can enter from Aquila: Mount Olympus for levels 30+, where you defeat Zeus Sky Father, Atlantea for levels 70+ where you defeat Poseidon Earth Shaker, and Tartarus for levels 90+, the Underworld, where you defeat Hades the Unseen, with his two brothers that you would have defeated previously, Zeus Sky Father and Poseidon Earth Shaker, in an advanced version from before. You will have to do each dungeon from easiest to hardest to be able to do all of them. In each dungeon, there is an extra boss that you can optionally defeat for levels 90+.
- Krokotopia - An Egypt-themed world populated mostly by Kroks (a race of humanoid crocodiles) and Manders as well as some Marleybone Canines that are excavating the ruins.
- Marleybone - A Victorian era-themed world that has things that are also in London, England such as Big Ben that is populated mostly by humanoid dogs, cats and rats. The city has all the trappings of a modern society built upon scientific foundations.
- Mooshu - A Feudal Japan-themed world populated mostly by Samoorai (a race of samurai cows), Onis (which resemble Indian Elephant-headed humanoids), Ninja Pigs. Blooming cherry trees, carefully maintained gardens, and tall mountains can be found everywhere. Although this is a place of knowledge and tradition, there is a great mystery here.
- Dragonspyre - A world based on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius as well as Greek and Byzantine architecture (but the humans there all have Russian accents). Once an advanced militant society, Dragonspyre had an esteemed Academy rivaling that of the Ravenwood School of Magical Arts in Wizard City. The inhabitants once held a special interest in Fire Magic which may have contributed to the destruction wrought upon the area.
- Celestia - An ocean-based world is based on the Greek and Roman legend of the underwater civilization of Atlantis. It is inhabited by Pisceans (a race of humanoid sharks), Lophians, and Crabs. Besides the underwater levels, there are a few islands in Celestia.
- Grizzleheim - A Scandinavian-themed world inhabited by Bears, Wolves, Boars, Ravens, Wolverines, and Grendels.
- Wintertusk - An island that is part of Grizzleheim which serves as an expansion to Grizzleheim. The area of Nastrond is where Ymir the Ice Titan is kept asleep.
- Wysteria - Wysteria was once a trading post and pleasant enough small town in the Wizard City cluster not too far away but of little consequence in the overall scheme of things until a magical incident occurred that caused a crawling vine to grow and completely overrun the town.
- Zafaria - An African-themed world that his home to humanoid Elephants, Gorillas, Lions, Jackals, Rhinos, and Zebras.
- Avalon - A world based on the medieval period in Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, and Italy, Merle Ambrose was born here. It incorporates many elements from Celtic mythology (especially the elements from the Matter of Britain). It is a land of Knights, Dragons, Fairies, Witches, Goblins, Ogres, Giants, and Spriggans.
- Azteca - An Aztec and Mayan-themed world populated mostly by the Aztecosaurs (a race of homonid dinosaurs consisting of the Parasaurolophus-like Parasaurs, the Pterosaurs, the Raptors, and the Triceratops-like Tritops), the Monquistans (a race of Conquistador monkeys), the Jaguars, the Caimans, the Quetzals, and the Other Birds (the type that are based on parrots and toucans).
- Khrysalis - The final world of the Morganthe storyline and it is in the test realm. Level cap so far for Khrysalis Part 1 is Level 95. Khrysalis Part 2 is expected to hit the test realm early 2014 announced by Kingsisle. It is predicted with this part to raise the level cap to 100. Part 1 of Khrysalis has been released to the Live Realm November 15, 2013.
The game offers a choice of either subscription or "Free-to-Play" with microtransactions. Free-to-Play customers can purchase access to different areas of content using in-game currency called Crowns. Such areas only need to be purchased once, but other actions in the game may be necessary before accessing them. Crowns can be purchased by a game card or from the online store.
If a player decides to begin a subscription, they are not only free to roam about the whole 11 worlds during their timed subscription days but are also able to: participate in ranked PvP matches, Ranked Derby races, buying Castles and Lands (or after reaching Level 15), advanced Crafting, Gifting capabilities, True Friends, faster Energy regeneration, larger backpack, larger friends list and faster Crafting timers. Also outside of the game, players will gain the power to post on the Wizard101 Message Board.
All enemies, all spells, and much of the equipment is assigned a magic school, which determines many of their properties. Every wizard has a school of focus, chosen during character creation. A short personality quiz can be taken at character creation, which will suggest a school of focus, which players can accept or modify. The possible focus schools are the Elemental Schools (made up of Fire, Ice, and Storm), the Spirit Schools (made up of Life, Myth, and Death), and the Balance School. The three astral schools of Star, Moon, and Sun and the new Shadow Magic cannot be chosen as focus schools, but rather are learned as secondary schools. A wizard's focus school determines which spells he or she will learn, what equipment they can use, their base stats, and gives access to school-specific quests and pets. Each school has specific advantages and disadvantages, but the schools are (at least in theory) balanced overall. When players cooperate in fights, it is often advantageous to have representatives of different schools, but each school is fully capable of solo play. Every wizard also has the opportunity to learn spells outside the focus school, but must use a limited currency ("training points") to buy these spells (in addition to Star, Moon, Sun and Shadow Magic spells) - this means that no single wizard can learn every spell.
Combat pitches up to four players against up to four computer-controlled enemies or other players, using spells from their deck to defeat them. A victory awards the player with experience and various items, including equipment which primarily serves to increase combat statistics (e.g. damage, accuracy, health).
The combat sequence is turn-based. The player chooses a card from a deck they have assembled from the cards they have, and clicks on the target, damaging the opposing player or enemy, restoring their own health (or health of their allies), or strengthening or weakening allies or opponents. Some cards (or "spells") do more than one of these things, or something else entirely (e.g. summoning a computer-controlled minion to assist the player who summoned it).
KingsIsle released a player housing feature named "Castles/Houses" on May 6, 2009, enabling players to edit and customize their own virtual space. Some houses can be bought in various locations around the game, often for gold but sometimes for crowns, while others can be gained from Gift Cards.
Due to its young core audience, Wizard101 restricts player interaction when compared to other games in the massively multiplayer online genre. There are three different types of chat: Menu Chat, Open chat and Text Chat. In Menu chat, what a player types can be seen by every other wizard in the area either from a word bubble on top of the speakers head or in the chat box. Text Chat is when a wizard wishes to speak in private to another wizard. This appears on the screen in a transparent box to the left. The age of the player directly correlates to the communication allowable. When typed, words that appear in white are words that everyone is able to view. Yellow words can only be seen by players who have their account set to "Open Chat". Open chat is obtained when you have a credit card and you are 18+. Red words are not allowed and can be seen by no one, not even the player themselves. If an adult chatter types yellow words, young wizards will see dots (...) in place on the word.
Aside from the different levels of chat filters available depending on player age, duels between players are available only in a special player versus player arena designated for the purpose. The PvP arena can be found upon entry to Unicorn Way from the Commons in Wizard City. The PVP arenas are also found in SOME crowns houses and all of the Bundle houses. (This is your private arena, and can only be used when you and other players are in your home.)
Rewards for combat or completing a quest are distributed equally among the party, so players need not fight for spoils. Players may trade a special type of spell card called a treasure card, which is a spell card that can be rearranged by clicking the golden card icon in their spellbook and then can be used in battle when the player discards cards and then clicks draw. These cards can only be used once, and can be used by any school of Magic. This spell will disappear from the player's treasure deck once it is used. So far the players are currently unable to trade items between one another (it is possible, however, to trade items to one's other wizards on the same account, through the use of a shared bank).
Online safety features
Several features have been implemented to protect younger players in the online world. Parents must activate controls for players under 13, including setting levels for interaction with other players in the world. Three different levels of chat are available. At the most restricted level, players select from a menu of pre-defined phrases, and players using this option can only see menu chat from other players. At the next level, players may type what they want, as long as the words are available in the game’s dictionary. If a word is not present in the dictionary, or part of a forbidden phrase, such as asking another player’s age, it will not be visible. If players know each other outside the game, they can use a true friend code to allow looser chat inside the game, however it is subject to some restrictions. Additionally, players choose names for their characters from a list that allows selection of a first name and a one- or two-part surname. You can also choose to not have a surname, and just have a first name. Names for in-game pets can also be selected from a list, though dropped pets start with names you do not get to choose, you must pay gold to change their names. The official game forums are filtered and moderated. Finally, at player request, KingIsle Entertainment added open chat for players aged 18 years and above, an age limit verified through credit cards, which allows everything except profanities.
Other features have been designed with a pre-teens audience in mind, for example opponents in combat disintegrate or vanish, and there is no blood.
According to a press release published in May 2008, the development of Wizard101 began in 2005, upon the founding of KingsIsle Entertainment under the creative direction of J. Todd Coleman. The game entered open beta on August 6, 2008, and it launched successfully on September 2, 2008. On August 25, 2010, it was announced that Wizard101 would be released in foreign territories later that year.
Wizard101 launched a European Beta version on December 15, 2010 and then released the game on February 15, 2011, in partnership with Gameforge. This eventually included releases of the game in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Polish, Greek and Turkish.
It was announced on August 17, 2011 that KingsIsle and Taomee Holdings Limited had an agreement to launch Wizard101 in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. This has been the company's biggest move since launching the game in Europe. Wizard101 Taiwan officially launched on April 27, 2012, with the others to follow.
According to KingIsle Entertainment's press releases, the game has experienced a steady growth in the number of players: 2 million in April 2009, 5 million in September 2009, ten million players by June 2010, 15 million by January 2011, 20 million by July 2011, and 30 million by July 2013. In terms of reception, the game currently scores an average of 10 (out of 10) from ratings on IGN.com's GameStats. GameShark reviewer Toni Dimayuga noted the game's overall ambiance and graphic setting as well as the overall fun nature of Wizard101 in the pro column, while the combat (in particular defeats) and the restrictive (at the time of the review) nature of chat were seen as the major minus points.
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