The series logo
|Genres||Role-playing video game|
|Creators||Andrew C. Greenberg
|First release||Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord
|Latest release||Wizardry 8
November 15, 2001
|Spin-offs||Tale of the Forsaken Land
Nemesis: The Wizardry Adventure
Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls
Wizardry is a series of role-playing video games, developed by Sir-Tech, which were highly influential in the evolution of modern console and computer role-playing games. The original Wizardry was a significant influence on early console RPGs such as Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. Originally made for the Apple II, the games were later ported to other platforms. The last official game in the series by Sir-Tech, Wizardry 8, was originally released for Microsoft Windows and is currently available for play on Mac and Linux via bundled emulation. There have since been various spin-off titles released only in Japan.
Wizardry began as a simple dungeon crawl by Andrew C. Greenberg and Robert Woodhead. It was written when they were students at Cornell University and then published by Sir-Tech. The game was influenced by earlier games from the PLATO system, most notably Oubliette.
The earliest installments of Wizardry were very successful, as they were the first graphically-rich incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons-type gameplay for home computers. The release of the first version coincided with the height of D&D's popularity in North America.
The first five games in the series were written in Apple Pascal, an implementation of UCSD Pascal. They were ported to many different platforms by writing UCSD Pascal implementations for the target machines (Mac II cross-development).
David W. Bradley took over the series after the fourth installment, adding a new level of plot and complexity.
Ultimately the initial game became a series. The following games were released in the United States:
- Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (1981)
- Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds (1982)
- Wizardry III: Legacy of Llylgamyn (1983)
- Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna (1987)
- Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom (1988)
- Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge (1990)
- Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant (1992) (remade as Wizardry Gold in 1996)
- Nemesis: The Wizardry Adventure (1996)
- Wizardry 8 (2001)
The first three games are a trilogy, with similar settings, plots, and gameplay mechanics. A second trilogy is formed by installments 6 through 8 – Bane of the Cosmic Forge, Crusaders of the Dark Savant and Wizardry 8 – with settings and gameplay mechanics that differed greatly from the first trilogy.
The fourth game, The Return of Werdna, was a significant departure from the rest of the series. In it, the player controls Werdna ("Andrew," one of the game's developers, spelled backwards), the evil wizard slain in the first game, and summons groups of monsters to aid him as he fights his way through the prison in which he'd been held captive. Rather than monsters, the player faced typical adventuring parties, some of which were pulled from actual user disks sent to Sir-Tech for recovery. Further, the player had only a limited number of keystrokes to use to complete the game.
1996's Wizardry Nemesis was an even more significant departure from the rest of the series. It is played as a "solo" adventure: one character only, with no supporting party or monsters. All players use the same character — without the ability to choose class or attributes. In addition, the game contains only 16 spells, compared to 50 in the first four adventures and more in the subsequent ones. It is also the first Wizardry title where the player saw enemies in advance and thus could try to avoid them.
The following compilations were also released for various platforms:
- Wizardry Trilogy (1987) - the first three Wizardry games; released for Apple II and C64
- Wizardry Trilogy 2 (1993) - compilation of Wizardry V, VI, and VII; released for DOS
- Wizardry: Llylgamyn Saga (1997) - an enhanced remake of the first three Wizardry games for PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and Windows
- The Ultimate Wizardry Archives (1998) - compilation of the first seven Wizardry games plus the 1996 remake of the seventh game, Wizardry Gold; released for Windows and DOS
- Wizardry: New Age of Llylgamyn (1999) - an enhanced remake of Wizardry IV and V for PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and Windows.
Series in Japan
Translated by ASCII Entertainment, the Wizardry series became very influential in Japan during the 1980s even as its popularity at home declined. When first introduced, the games suffered from the culture barrier compounded by low-quality translation. This meant that the game was taken seriously by players who overlooked the in-game jokes and parodies. For example, Blade Cusinart was introduced in early games as "a legendary sword made by the famous blacksmith, Cusinart [sic]" but its meaning was misinterpreted because Cuisinart food processors were virtually unknown in Japan. However, this misconception appealed to early computer gamers who were looking for something different and made the Wizardry series popular. Conversely, the fourth game, The Return of Werdna, was poorly received, as, lacking the knowledge of subcultures necessary to solving the game, Japanese players had no chance of figuring out some puzzles.
The popularity of Wizardry in Japan inspired several original sequels, spinoffs, and ports, with the series long outliving the American original.
- Ports of the original scenarios
- Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord – Macintosh, MZ-2500, X1/turbo, FM-7, FM-77, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2, NES, Game Boy Color, WonderSwan Color, Cell phone, C64/C128
- Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds – Macintosh, MZ-2500, X1/turbo, FM-7, FM-77, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2, NES, Game Boy Color, C64
- Wizardry I & II – PC Engine
- Wizardry III: Legacy of Llylgamyn – X1/turbo, FM-7, FM-77, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2, Famicom, Game Boy Color, C64
- Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna – X1/turbo, FM-7, FM-77, PC-8801, PC-9801
- Wizardry III & IV – PC Engine
- Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom – FM Towns, PC-8801, PC-9801, SNES, PC Engine, C64
- Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge – FM Towns, PC-9801, 98note, J-3100, SNES
- Wizardry VI & VII – Sega Saturn
- Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant – PC-9801, PC-9821, PlayStation
- Wizardry Nemesis (1996) – Microsoft Windows, Sega Saturn
- Wizardry: Story of Llylgamyn (1999) – SNES, 1999
- Wizardry: Llylgamyn Saga (2000) – Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Sega Saturn
- Wizardry: New Age of Llylgamyn (2000) – Microsoft Windows, PlayStation
- Wizardry Gaiden 1: Suffering of the Queen (1991) – Game Boy
- Wizardry Gaiden 2: Curse of the Ancient Emperor (1992) – Game Boy
- Wizardry Gaiden 3: Scripture of the Dark (1993) – Game Boy
- Wizardry Gaiden 4: Throb of the Demon's Heart (1996) – SNES
- Wizardry: Dimguil (2000) – PlayStation
- Wizardry Empire (2000) – PlayStation, Game Boy Color
- Wizardry Empire II: Fukkatsu no Tsue (2002) – PlayStation, Game Boy Color
- Wizardry Empire III (2003) – PlayStation 2
- Wizardry Chronicle – Microsoft Windows
- Wizardry Summoner (2001, published by Natsume) – Game Boy Advance
- Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land (American title, Busin: Wizardry Alternative in Japan) (2001) – PlayStation 2
- Busin 0: Wizardry Alternative Neo – PlayStation 2
- Wizardry Traditional – cell phone
- Wizardry Traditional 2 – cell phone
- Wizardry Xth Academy of Frontier (2005) – PlayStation 2
- Wizardry Asterisk: Hiiro no Fūin (2005) – Nintendo DS
- Wizardry Gaiden: Prisoners of the Battles (2005) – PlayStation 2
- Wizardry Summoner (2005) – PlayStation 2
- Wizardry Xth2 UNLIMITED STUDENT (2006) – PlayStation 2
- Wizardry Empire III: Haō no Keifu (2007) – PSP
- Wizardry Torawareshi Tamashii no Meikyū (Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls) (2009) – PSN
- Wizardry Seimei no Kusabi (Wizardry: Wedge of Life) (2009) – DS
- Wizardry Bōkyaku no Isan (2010) – DS
- Wizardry: Torawareshi Bourei no Machi (2011) – PSN
- Wizardry: Prisoners of the Lost City (2011) – PSN
- Wizardry Online (2012) – MMORPG, Windows
|This section requires expansion. (August 2013)|
The original Wizardry game was a success, selling 24,000 copies by June 1982, just nine months after its release according to Softalk‘s sales surveys. In the June 1983 issue of Electronic Games, Wizardry was described as "without a doubt, the most popular fantasy adventure game for the Apple II at the present time". While noting limitations such as the inability to divide the party, or the emphasis on combat over role-playing, the magazine stated that "no other game comes closer to providing the type of contest favored by most players of non-electronic role-playing games ... one outstanding programming achievement, and an absolute 'must buy' for those fantasy gamers who own an Apple".
Innovation in game-play
Wizardry established the command-driven battle system with a still image of the monster being fought. This system would be emulated in later games, such as The Bard's Tale, Dragon Quest, and Final Fantasy.
Wizardry was the first game to feature what would later be called prestige classes. Aside from the traditional classes of Fighter, Mage, Priest, Thief and Bard, players could take Bishop, Lord, Ninja and Samurai if they had the right attributes and alignment. In the case of Lord and Ninja, at least in the first episodes of the sequel, it was impossible to receive all the attributes needed when first rolling characters; this meant the player needed to gain levels to achieve those attributes and then cross classes, so they can be considered proper prestige classes. Wizardry VI allowed starting with any class if the player invested enough time during the random character attribute generation.
Influence on subsequent games
Wizardry inspired many clones and served as a template for role-playing video games. Some notable series that trace their look and feel to Wizardry include 1985's The Bard's Tale and the Might and Magic series.
Wizardry is the major inspiration to the Nintendo DS title The Dark Spire. While the game follows its own story and maps, much of the game uses the same game play mechanics, even going so far as including a "classic" mode that removes all of the game's graphics, replacing them with a wireframe environment, 8-bit-style sprites for monsters and characters, and chiptune music. The game's publisher, Atlus, also published another Wizardry spin-off, Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land.
While designing the popular Japanese role-playing game Dragon Quest, Yuji Horii drew inspiration from the Wizardry series, 1986's Mugen no Shinzou (Heart of Phantasm), and the Ultima series of games. Horii's obsession with Wizardry was manifested as an easter egg in one of his earlier games, The Portopia Serial Murder Case in 1983. In a dungeon-crawling portion of that adventure game, a note on the wall reads "MONSTER SURPRISED YOU." The English fan translation added a sidenote explaining "This is Yuji Horii wishing he could have made this game an RPG like Wizardry!"
The popularity of Wizardry in Japan also inspired various light novels, manga comics, Japanese pen-and-paper role-playing games, and an original video animation. A popular light novel series titled Sword Art Online also had a character who stated that his inspiration came from this game. Most have been released only in Japan.
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