Wizard of Wor
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|Wizard of Wor|
Gameplay screenshot from the Commodore 64. The player's Worrior is on the right (yellow) and the maze contains several Burwors (blue).
|Designer(s)||Tom McHugh and Dave Nutting|
|Mode(s)||Single player, 2 player simultaneous|
|Cabinet||Standard upright, Mini upright, Cocktail|
Wizard of Wor is an arcade game from 1980, developed by Midway. It was ported to the Atari 8-bit family, Commodore 64, Atari 2600, Atari 5200 and renamed to The Incredible Wizard for the Bally Astrocade. The game was released as part of the compilations Midway Arcade Treasures 2 (2004) and Midway Arcade Origins (2012).
Wizard of Wor is an action game for one or two players. The game takes the form of several maze-like dungeons infested with monsters. The players' characters, called Worriors, have to kill all the monsters. Player one has yellow Worriors, on the right, and player two has blue Worriors, on the left. In a two-player game, the players are also able to shoot each other's Worriors, earning bonus points and causing the other player to lose a life. Team-oriented players can successfully advance through the game by standing back-to-back (such as in a corner) and firing at anything that comes at them.
Each dungeon consists of a single-screen rectangular grid with walls and corridors in various formations. The Worriors and the monsters can travel freely through the corridors. Each dungeon has doors at the left and right edges, which connect with each other, making the dungeon wrap around. Whenever a door is traversed by a player or monster, they deactivate for a short period, making them impassable. A player who exits the door can pop back through the door immediately when the Worluk or Wizard is in the dungeon. A small radar display indicates the positions of all active monsters.
The various monsters include the following:
- Burwor: A blue wolf-type creature.
- Garwor: A yellow Tyrannosaurus rex-type creature.
- Thorwor: A red scorpion-like creature.
- Worluk: An Insectoid-type creature.
- Wizard of Wor: A blue wizard.
Both Garwors and Thorwors have the ability to turn invisible at times, but will always appear on the radar.
Each dungeon starts filled with six Burwors. In the first dungeon, killing the last Burwor will make a Garwor appear; in the second, the last two Burwors are replaced by Garwors when killed; and so on. From the sixth dungeon on, a Garwor will replace every Burwor when killed. On every screen, killing a Garwor causes a Thorwor to appear. There will never be more than six enemies on the screen at once. From the second dungeon on, after the last Thorwor is killed, a Worluk will appear and try to escape through one of the side doors, ending the level. Killing the Worluk doubles all point values for the next dungeon.
The Wizard of Wor will appear in or after the second dungeon once the Worluk has either escaped or been killed. After a few seconds the Wizard will disappear and teleport across the dungeon, gradually approaching a Worrior. The Wizard remains in the dungeon until he shoots a Worrior or is killed. Killing the Wizard of Wor will also double the point values for the next dungeon. He uses a speech synthesizer to taunt the player.
Through levels 1-7, the player is referred to as a "Worrior". After dungeon 7 the Player is referred to as a "Worlord". The "Worlord Dungeons" are more difficult because they have fewer walls. Eventually, with Dungeon 13, there are no walls.
There are two special dungeons with increased difficulty. The 4th dungeon is called "THE ARENA" and the 13th dungeon is called "THE PIT". The Arena has a large open area in its center, while the Pit has no interior walls at all. A bonus Worrior is awarded before each of these levels.
Each dungeon begins with a dramatic rendition of the five-note opening from "Danger Ahead"—the theme to the radio and television series Dragnet—with the fifth note only playing on the "double score dungeon" screen.
The arcade version of Wizard of Wor was moderately successful. Video Games called the Atari 2600 version of Wizard of Wor "not very good", with good sound but "uninspired visuals" compared to the Bally Astrocade version. The magazine compared the flickering graphics to the Atari version of Pac-Man ("Flickerman"). Electronic Games called the Atari 8-bit version "outstanding". It similarly praised the arcade version, stating that while one-person and competitive two-person play was excellent, two people cooperating was "a unique playing experience". The Astrocade version (entitled The Incredible Wizard) was covered in Video magazine's 1982 Guide to Electronic Games where it was described by reviewers as "a near-perfect translation" of the arcade original.:53 It would go on to be awarded "Best Multi-Player Video Game" at the 4th annual Arkie Awards where it was described as "the finest cartridge ever produced for [the Astrocade]",:30 and the Atari version would be honored at the 5th Arkies with a Certificate of Merit in the same category.:29
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