September 24, 2011

[Game 005] Wizardry I (NES - 1987) (SNES Remake)

Translation by Aeon Genesis

Ahhh... Wizardry.  The game that beat my ass the two times I attempted it in the distant past.  At least the PC and the NES versions did.  For this undertaking I will being using the Super Nintendo version which also includes the next two chapters in the Wizardry saga.  The ability to carry the party over to the next game in the series is my main reason for playing the remake but also to avoid repeating titles.  

Wizardry has a reputation for being an extremely difficult game, requiring painstaking mapping skillz and the virtue of patience.  It can be very unforgiving as it kills, poisons, and paralyzes the characters into submission.  A resurrection or paralysis cure at the Temple of Cant is very costly for a low leveled party.  So much so that characters will often have to stay deceased while the survivors gather enough gold for the uber greedy priests. 

Yeah, you'd better keep
your face hidden.

To do this, one must create new characters, gain a few levels, and hope that the n00bz don't get killed as well.  While this frequent switching out of characters within a party does mean more grinding, it also gives a great depth to the game as well.  Instead of having a set cast of characters like most console RPGs do, every character has a mortal fragility about them.  No one character feels like the hero of the story.  A story with a defined hero has a certain amount of permanency, like in the movies.  The hero may get injured and even die but you know deep down that they'll always overcome.  Wizardry lacks that and I find it works extremely well for a RPG.  It gives an added tension that no one is safe from the perils of the dungeons.  The higher the level of the character that dies the more expensive it is to resurrect them.  A high level character could be out of commission for quite some time before the funds become available.  If they keep dying, it could be time to let them rot and focus character building efforts on guys who don't suck nads.

Possible nadsuckers.

If that isn't enough to keep a party in constant member flux, Wizardry also incorporates a basic alignment system (Good, Neutral, Evil) for characters.  A party cannot be made with good and evil characters in it (neutrals are fine with everyone).  The handling of certain events in the game can result in an alignment shift for a character.  The simplicity of the system makes it easy to bypass any of these effects (good and evil choices are obvious) if desired.  I personally like this for a role play standpoint and will pick the "wrong" choice from time to time and see if anyone shifts.  

All of these factors have aggregated to result in having a good-based party and an evil one.  I'm role playing it so they are in direct competition with other.  When the good guys come back from an expedition, they must rest while the baddies try their hand at exploring.  It'll be interesting to see which one will eventually slay the game's antagonist, Werdna.

Pictured: Not Werdna.
Not even close.

So far, the difficulty seems to be nerfed from the non-SNES versions.  There was not much problem getting characters to level 5 or so with few hinderances.  This was a worry at first because if the SNES is indeed easier, I cannot claim my Wizardry achievement badge without the caveat that it's the SNES version.  At dungeon level three, it finally started getting a little more like the Wizardry I remember.  I had just started getting lazy and speed tapping through the fights because my all fighter front line were barely being hit and had enough Hit Points to soak up damage anyhow.  An encounter with a large group of Zombies and Slimes quickly brought my ass into check with poison and paralysis martinis for everyone.  The two who didn't drink had to drag their comrades, two apiece, back through the treacherous dungeons to the town.  One died from poison despite the Priest sinking all the healing spells into him.  Hey, I got out of line for just a moment and Wizardry gave me a bitch slap reminder of just who I was playing with.

At least we got this
groovy dancing frog.

That was bad enough.  It wasn't until after I got back to the town that I realized that the priest of the group was actually experienced enough to cast a paralysis curing spell.  Cursing my stupidity, I thought I would still be able to get the paralyzed members from the temple and cure them myself, saving hundreds of golds in the process.  It was then I noticed that the evil priest had turned good and would now refuse to heal his evil ex-comrades.  Isht.

The Evils now have most members incapacitated and will require fresh meat to refill their ranks.  Luckily a high level associate of the Goods has recently turned to the dark side and can now guide the fledglings to a more sure bounty of experience points.  But first the Goods get their attempt to map the rest of level three...