Saturday, April 10, 2010

Game 13: Wizardry II (1982)


 
Okay, here's the essential problem with Wizardry II: you can't create characters in it. Instead, you have to import your characters from Wizardry. Now this would be okay, maybe, if during the import the game auto-leveled you to something sensible, but it doesn't. Also, when you import your characters, it permanently removes you from the original game. You can't even go back and re-import them if they die. Man, these games are harsh.

Remember how in Wizardry I, I kept losing my party because the game auto-saves and death is permanent? Well, the same thing is true of Wizardry II. Now this was bad enough in Wizardry I, when I had to create characters from scratch and build them up to a high enough level to either a) rescue the bodies of my original party or b) replace my original party. But in Wizardry II, if I lose my party, I have to go back to Wizardry I, create new characters, build them up in Wizardry I, then import them to Wizardry II, and finally send them on the rescue expedition. I'm sorry, but I don't have that kind of time.

I might do it if there was anything different about Wizardry II, but the manual that came with The Ultimate Wizardry Archives confirms that the gameplay, classes, races, spells, commands--everything--is exactly the same. Even the names of the equipment shop, tavern, inn, and temple are the same, despite the fact I'm supposed to be in a different city. Wizardry II isn't a new game: it's a new dungeon in the same game.

I did try. As you may recall if you read that entry, only four of my characters survived the final battle in Wizardry. I imported them into Wizardry II along with two level 1 characters I created in Wizardry to take the places of the dead ones. I figured that I could keep them in the back of the party and just build up their experience using the other characters. This worked for a time, and I got them up to level 6 (my other four came in at level 12). Unfortunately, one of the dead/replacement characters was a mage--the only class that can cast the MALOR teleport spell--and on Level 1 of the Wizardry II dungeon, you need the MALOR spell to progress.


 
Wandering around on Level 1, I found a room in which the sorceress Gnilda (the creators' anagrams are showing again) spoke about the main quest. The City of Llylgamyn was once protected by the magical Staff of Llygamyn, which prevented any evil-doers from entering the city. Regrettably, the staff had a loophole: those born in Llygamyn were immune to its preventive effects. Someone evil named Davalpus staged a coup and slaughtered the royal family, and in the ensuing war the staff was lost to the depths of a dungeon and the city brought to rubble. My party's quest is to recover "symbols of Gnilda's favor" so that she'll give me the staff and I can restore peace and prosperity.

Unfortunately, Llygamyn is going to have to remain a smoking ruin, because shortly after receiving said quest, my entire party--even the veterans--was slaughtered by a group of "kobold kings." No way am I re-playing Wizardry just so I can have characters at a high enough level to start Wizardry II. The process of importing, creating new characters, starting up, and mapping Level 1 took close enough to six hours that I feel like I've kept within my rules.

They looked so easy...

Now isn't everything I'm saying also true of Wizardry III? Yes, Wizardry III also does not allow you to create characters; you must import them from the original Wizardry. But according to the manual, you're not really importing the original characters but rather their "descendants," and during the import it re-sets you to Level 1. You don't even get to keep your gold. Hence, since unlike II, III doesn't require high-level characters, I have no cause not to give it a try.

Since Wizardry II is the same game as Wizardry, I see no reason not to give it the same overall score: 37/100.

The manual that came with the Archives is a lot of fun, full of comical little drawings of your characters. I wish I could show it to you, but my scanner is broken. It also explains things a little better than the original manuals. Flipping through it, I have to say, Wizardry VI and VII look pretty cool. I'll get to them eventually.

Edit from 26 March 2014: Nearly four years after I first played this game, I returned to it and won it. The GIMLET score fell to 32 upon consideration of the game in its entirety. I recommend that you read my updated post for more information about the game.

21 comments:

  1. It's astonishing to think that Wiz II requires you to import characters from your last game, but then if they die, you're expected to start all over again..?!?! Wow.

    I assume you made a backup copy of your character disk before importing them though right? :-)

    Enjoying the blog.

    Ever thought about writing a book on this subject? By the time you're nearing the end of your quest (yes pun intended), you'll have ample material from which to develop a book.

    Your writing is certainly strong enough.

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  2. Hey, first post here, just want to say I love what you are doing and enjoy reading your posts :). I find older games have something that you cannot find in some newer ones today with over-bloated budgets and special effects. You can sense the personal effort that went into them, whereas today games are more akin to an assembly line where everyone has one monotonous, repetitive task and no attachment to the final product. Even the difficulty of these old games are hilarious when compared to how easy games are made now.

    Anyways, just wanted to give you some support and to say keep on blogging. Keep up the good work!

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  3. Jon, thanks for the encouragement and for visiting. I'm glad you find it interesting.

    Andrew, I appreciate the suggestion, but it seems to me that blog form--rather than a book--is already the perfect medium via which to convey this material. I will think about it, though. I'm certainly glad that you think my writing is good enough for publication.

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  4. Oh, and to answer your other question: I have backups only in the sense that I backup my computer regularly. But I didn't make any specific to the game because I didn't realize at the time that it was going to delete my characters from Wizardry I during the import.

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  5. I noticed something you said in this post that you had stated earlier about Wizardry, about characters being permanently dead. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding what you mean, but that's not true at all. If your entire party gets wiped out at once in the dungeon, yeah, you're screwed unless you have other characters to go down and salvage them. But if you have even one character left, you can bring the dead ones back to town and get them resurrected at the Temple of Cant. There are also a couple of spells that have a chance of resurrecting them (albeit lesser than the Temple). Now, if you try to bring them back & fail TWICE in a row, then yeah, you're talking permanent death. But I spent years playing this game, and I rarely saw that happen. Maybe your characters' vitality was too low?
    Ooh, I bet I just figured it out - you were playing the DOS port which has a significant bug: when leveling up on the Apple version, your stats usually went up (with an occasional loss), while on the DOS version, your stats were just as likely (if not more so) to go down, which could certainly lead to some crappy characters & lots of untimely death. I understand you have to follow your own rules, but maybe some day download an Apple IIe emulator, and give that version a go!

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  6. Rattmice, you're definitely right about that. When my characters leveled, I gained stats about half the time and lost stats about half the time. I ended the game with some stats in the single digits. That was a BUG? Dammit.

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  7. The IBM-PC version (it was not a "DOS" version because it did not run on DOS) of Wiz II lagged way, way, way behind the Apple II version. It was evenutally released well into the 80s, I think. The wait was awful. When it came out it was terribly slow--lots of disk reads. And it was a disappointment as a game because it ruins the balance with special super-powerful items. That said, it's not very hard to beat if you come at it as a true Wizardry I veteran rather than one who blundered into a win.

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  8. I notice that they didn't name the game Wizardry II but rather just called it Wizardry and then 'Scenario #2' in the subtitle. So instead of a proper sequel I imagine that this game was intended as an extension or addon to the original game, kinda like how you get a ton of adventure books for pen and paper RPGs. The same with W3 as well, not a proper sequel but another scenario pack, so to say.

    Perhaps that was the original intention and when the series later expanded even more they started numbering them as full sequels instead of expansion campaigns. Or perhaps I am just rambling.

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  9. No, I don't think you're rambling. Since they didn't update anything about the interface, I think you have a good point.

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  10. Manolis 13 MnEmpJuly 9, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    +1 for a possible book, it would be EPIC! Enjoying the blog as you can see so much :)

    And you shouldn't wait to reach later stages of the project to do it, you could release a yearly book or something like that :D

    Have you checked for example the very recently released Graphic Guide to Classic Adventure Games by HG101 ? or Gamespite 's Quarterlys ? They rock! And I think your book would be like a "biography" of PC Rpgs :D

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  11. Everyone keeps encouraging me to write a book, despite that you can get all of my material on the blog for free. Do you really all want to take the CRPG Addict to the beach?

    Even with all the material written, putting it together in book form, editing it, getting permissions for certain images, etc., would take far more time than I have time for. Maybe I'll put out a call for a co-author at some future point.

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  12. Though your writing is much better than mine, I would be down for helping you. From comments of yours it seams you also have more things published than I do, as I only have the one book "Dirty Sign Language".

    Regardless I think it would be fun putting this together and with the material you already have we could probably get a contract without a finished manuscript.

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  13. I appreciate it, UbAh. I'll think about it. In another comment thread, someone had a good idea about the layout.

    Oddly, I'm now getting an add in the Blogger design console that says: "Turn your blog into a book! Blog2Print from SharedBook turns your blog into a soft cover or hard cover book. You pick the cover, add an optional dedication, then preview and you're done. Prices start at $14.95."

    Somehow I think a good book would take more effort than that.

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  14. Yea, there are a lot of scam publishing companies that prey on peoples desire to fulfill fantasies of being published. Basically any "publishing" company that asks you for money instead of offering you money is probably a scam.

    This is more of a public service announcement for the internet at large, as I don't think you would fall for something like that.

    Hell any kind of work where they ask you for money to start off is probably a scam. So pay attention kids, this is a safety tip from your dirty uncle UbAh.

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  15. (commenting on old post I know)

    I just finished Wiz1 last night and loaded up Wiz2 (playing the SNES version), and the game imported all my characters as Level 1. Dungeon level 1 seems to be balanced for level 1 characters, so this looks like the first significant change between the SNES and PC versions of the games.

    I agree that my brief look at it makes it look exactly the same as Wiz 1 so would also give it the same score. I think I'll leave it for a bit and play something else first...

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    Replies
    1. They exchanged Wiz2 for Wiz3.

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  16. Yeah wiz2 is only really theoretically possible to beat without cheating. Having to restart all over again in wiz1 just to delve into wiz2 is ridiculous. And in the DOS version at least you fail resurrects at least half the time so lost characters hapen constantly. Also in wiz2 there are a ton more unwinnable random encounters where you get slaughtered so death is far more common. Furthermroe there are a number of items that just flat out kill/ashes/lost your character if you use them and theres no hint that they might do so. Lets not forget the foolish rule that losts's everyone if you teleport into rock/off the side of the map. All in all you'd have to restart the game a million times over before you were lucky enough to win or grind yourself up to level 50 slowly and carefully and test invoke all items on lvl 1s. So yeah, I copied my save files and restarted liberally. After finishing it I can concur that yeah it is just wiz1 with some new levels and items.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for helping to validate my choice to abandon it. But if I had to do it again, I would allow myself to backup my saves.

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  17. I've never played these, but i think your choice to give this the same rating as Wizardry I is wrong headed...more for the fact that it is unplayable on its own than anything else. Wizardry may have had problems, but being unable to play it after your party dies wasn't one...

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you are correct. That was me being lazy.

      Delete

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