Wizard (1983 video game)
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|Developer(s)||PP&S, EA, various|
|Designer(s)||Sean A. Moore, Stephen Leudders|
|Genre(s)||2D action platformer|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer (up to four players)|
Wizard is a video game developed for the Commodore 64/128, released in 1984 by Electronic Arts, and written by Sean A. Moore and Stephen Leudders for Progressive Peripherals and Software (PP&S) out of Colorado. It was later modified and re-released as Ultimate Wizard.
Gameplay and plot
Each level contains keys, and the object involves getting Wilfrid to get the key to move on to the next location. Each level also requires a different spell to find the key, and every key found gives him a finite amount of times he could cast the spell. Some spells cast projectiles, which could either kill or freeze enemies, while some would teleport Wilfrid around, either by turning him to a non-corporeal "shadow" or by instantly moving him to his starting point.
Wizard was a product of the Construction Set era of 8-bit home computer games started by Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Set. The game was created contemporaneously with the Epyx release Jumpman. Stephen Leudder stated that it was a coincidence, and that he felt Wizard could have been more successful if Jumpman had not been released first. There are many notable similarities between Jumpman and Wizard. Both share a platform game format with a sequence of differently-configured single-screen levels to complete. However, while the object in Jumpman is to collect each "bomb" on the level, the object in Wizard is to collect a key and take it to a lock. The game also featured surprises that would be triggered by collecting bonus items in each level, much like how collecting certain bombs in a Jumpman level caused various effects to the level itself. Additionally, both games feature a very similar "death sequence" for the player upon losing a life, where the character (Jumpman or Wilfrid) tumbles down to the bottom of the screen, then sits with "stars" circling his head.
Wizard was groundbreaking in many ways; it included a construction kit that allows creation and play of user-created levels. However, the kit lacked the ability to add any special treasure-collection effects to the levels, as they were implemented by hard-coding their effects directly into the game program.
Craig Smith and Aaron Hightower teamed up to make an improved construction set in their homes in North Richland Hills, Texas. They communicated with Sean and Stephen to understand the memory layout for the levels and then set out to create an advanced construction set better than the one included with the original game. Among other things, their construction set included the ability to create "treasure matrices" that allowed the user to create special effects similar to the ones seen in the main levels. The original set had remnants in its code alluding to features that had been disabled, likely due to their instability or lack of documentation.
PP&S took the code from Craig and Aaron, and released it commercially in a package called the Wizard Expansion Set. This add-on pack also included 50 new levels from a competition held by the company specifically for the expansion; none of the new levels had any advanced features because of the limitations of the original construction set.
Electronic Arts, including Paul Reiche III, used the Construction set created by Aaron and Craig to create a whole new set of levels. The Construction Set made by Craig and Aaron was also included by EA, as were a combination of levels from the original game and from the expansion pack, albeit in a different order from the original PP&S releases. The Ultimate Wizard version also featured some changes to existing levels to alter their difficulty, as well as different sprites for some of the game's monsters.
Wizard had some very innovative features compared to other platform games of the time. For one, unlike Jumpman, it had a construction set. In addition, Wizard also had many spells that could be utilized. The sound was notably better as well, this due to Sean and Stephen's previous experience in sound creation outside of the video game field.