Friday, June 1, 2012

Wizard Wars: Someone Else Won!

The final battle

I haven't had a bad string lately. After deferring them for most of the year, I won BattleTech, Sentinel Worlds, and Star Command in succession, and I'm on the cusp of winning Wizardry V, rounding out all the games that I was having issues with towards the end of 2011.

But there was another game I abandoned around the same time: Wizard Wars, the odd game from Paragon. I noted during my first posting that there were no walkthroughs online, so even though I didn't really like the game, I thought I'd try my hand at creating one. It ended up being a lot more trouble than I cared to invest in it, although I did get about halfway done. I gave up prematurely, and offered a premature GIMLET, when I couldn't find a spell components list, only to be told (to my embarrassment) that there was one in a pretty obvious place on MobyGames. But even with this, I finally got frustrated with trying to find spell components through repeated searches, especially where Skyrim had just been released. I never really returned to the game.

Well, since then, Tarn Adams took the resources linked from my postings and the associated comments, and won the game. Since my blog seems to be the Wizard Wars authority on the Internet, I thought I'd finish that series of postings with Tarn's endgame.

He reports that:

  • Many of the spell components I was searching for in the First Dimension were, in fact, hidden on the eight maze levels of the Second Dimension.
  • The purpose of the Second Dimension is, ultimately, to get the components necessary to cast a "death" spell on a chimera guarding a bound unicorn in the First Dimension.
  • Rescuing the white unicorn then allows access to the Third Dimension, where the evil wizard Aldorin awaits.

Doesn't "Aldorin" sound a lot like "Alduin"? And then you've got the whole dragon thing. I'm not saying there's plagiarism involved, but come on.
 
  • To get to Aldorin, you first have to pass three dragons. You can defeat them with magic or by answering riddles that they pose.

My version: "In North America, you see it every night. And you often see it during the day. So my guess is they never see it in Australia."
 
  • After the final battle with Aldorin, Mazeus, the "God of Passion," instructs you to remain there and teach magic to worthy students.


Tarn offers three other tips: 1) Save your "evoke falcon" spell for the final battle, 'cause it's one use only; 2) there's a more complete spell list here; F10 mixes spells (this key is easy to overlook).




I don't often offer other players' winning screenshots, but there's no reason I shouldn't, so from now on when I abandon a game, I'll post the winning shots and narratives of anyone who wants to finish it up. (I'll even offer my save files in case you want to finish with my party.) (That's not happening with Wizardry V, by the way, so don't get excited.)

But what particularly motivated me here was the realization that I could have pretended to have won the game myself. There's no "character creation" in this game; you don't name your character or select any attributes. Every player has to get the same set of spells, go through the dimensions in the same order, and fight the same battles. There is literally no way to distinguish one player's screen shots from another's. What a depressing approach to a CRPG! After looking through Tarn's screenshots and reading his messages, I don't see any reason to adjust my GIMLET of 24. In Tarn's own words, "It really is not a good game."

I'll meet Paragon again in 1990 and 1991 with the two MegaTraveller games. The company went out of business shortly after.

Not much time to play Wizardry V over the last couple of days, but I'm still going at it. Maybe one more posting before the end.




42 comments:

  1. So, was it more like a text adventure with some grindan?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, "like a text adventure" gives it too much credit. There weren't any real puzzles. Just constant revisits to different places until you find all the inventory items to make up spells. Very boring, very rote.

      Delete
    2. Yes, indeed I can see this was nothing as good as 'Beyond Zork.'

      On the plus side, WOOT!, Blogger works on my Kindle but still not on any computer I have tried (ie the ones at home and the library) .

      Delete
    3. Now does anyone have an idea why I am unable to keep CA 's blot under the 'blogs I'm following' list in my profile?

      Delete
  2. This game seems as if it could've been named "1980's Most Popular Fantasy Tropes: The Compilation". Also, thanks for your dedication, Tarn, there must be a place in heaven to compensate you for your hardships. Probably one with a lot of booze to help you forget.

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  3. I have fond memories of Megatraveller (even if I never finished it). The character creation in particular was quite detailed. So hopefully they will redeem themselves in your eyes when you reach that point!

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    Replies
    1. Didn't know Paragon's fate but Megatraveller 2 was certainly going out with bang.

      Delete
  4. Hmmm. I had already considered trying to get through a few of the games you didn't finish, especially the rogue-likes. You have just provided me with additional motivation!

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  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf_Fortress <- THIS Tarn Adams?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Yes, that would be him. Suddenly, his comment that he was "looking forward to my Dwarf Fortress review" makes a lot more sense.

      I'm usually not so lazy that I don't bother to Google someone.

      Oh, hell. I know someone who's going to have a field day with this.

      Delete
    2. Dwarf Fortress is an amazing achievement. You're in good company, CRPG Addict.

      Delete
    3. Oh god, I hope that the addict keeps this up for the next 50 years are so, so I can watch him play Dwarf Fortress. I'd pay money to watch him play it for the first time.

      Delete
    4. If I cover a year in game time in a year in real-time, I'll get to Dwarf Fortress in only 17-18 years.

      Delete
    5. I read "Tarn Adams" and jumped straight into comments. That's awesome.

      17-18 years? I believe DF has a development todo list that can easily take that long to finish. These are massive projects right here. There's clearly some like-mindedness going on in here.

      --Eino

      Delete
    6. My guess is that when the Addict begins play Dwarf Fortress he will never stop playing ...

      Delete
  6. Awesome! Tarn adams reads your blog. I spend a lot of time on the DF forums, and he's one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to have as a reader :)

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  7. Is there a particular GIMLET score level where you'd consider a game "recommended" vs a "don't bother"? I'm definitely a fan of the old CRPGs and have been replaying the ones I remember fondly, such the Ultimas. I wouldn't mind trying some of more obscure ones you've discussed, but between work and 3 kids don't have the time and inclination to wade through the dregs.

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    Replies
    1. Since the GIMLET scores will put the games in an order, I guess there might be such a breakpoint in there somewhere. However, I would say you have to read the GIMLET posting to get an idea whether the game would be to *your* tastes. And even crappy games can have cool ideas that are worth checking out - at least I feel so.

      --Eino

      Delete
    2. I was about to agree with evktalo and post this long comment about how I'd hate for anyone to make a decision about whether or not to play a game on the quantitative scores alone. I was going to encourage you to read the postings and make the determination from a more qualitative standpoint. Then I realized that if you hadn't played a game and you read all my postings, your experience would be massively spoiled.

      How about rather than a "cutoff," I just suggest that you sort the games in descending order of the GIMLET score and play them in that order, as you have time?

      But if you're more of a binary sort of person: I just looked at the list, and I've come to the conclusion that a score of about 35 delineates the cutoff between "wish I had those hours back" and "glad I played this."

      Delete
    3. Ah, yes, spoilers. I don't much mind about spoilers personally, so I didn't think of that. Even though the twist in Starflight might have been cool to discover on my own - that's a game I do plan to play.

      --Eino

      Delete
    4. Ars Technica has refused to include numerical ratings in their reviews for years for this reason.

      Delete
  8. Wait a minute, is that really THE Tarn Adams? I thought so at first, but then discarded it as wishful thinking. But now that other people seem to think that as well, I have to reconsider. I just discovered Dwarf Fortress earlier this week. Awesome.

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    Replies
    1. Putting aside the unlikelihood of any two people being named "Tarn Adams," he did indeed confirm that he was THE Tarn Adams in our e-mails. Very friendly and insightful guy.

      Delete
  9. Wow...I finally caught up, reading between assignments at work and a few hours on weekends. Was fascinated by Telengard as a teen on a C128, never figured out Ultima IV (hacked copy, no manual or instructions) Thank you for doing this, reminding me of some really good (& terrible) old CRPGs. If you are ever in Louisville, KY drop me a line, I owe you several gimlets for the memories alone!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoy it! I'll take you up on your offer if I'm in the area.

      Delete
  10. I only recently discovered your blog, and I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I LOVE it. I wouldn't worry to much about it taking up your time and hurting you financially: you write so well about games, and the experience of playing games, that I'm sure you can monetize this thing by publishing it as a book sometime down the road, or writing a book about your experience of playing every CRPG.

    Keep playing and keep writing, and in the meantime I'll try to read your whole blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Luke. Glad to have you around. I'll keep striving for the right balance.

      My wife's about to have a book published, so perhaps you could all buy that and consider it financially supporting this blog.

      Delete
  11. Referring to "other players' winning screenshots" etc.

    Personally, I value your opinions about different games rather than comprehensive "Let's Play"-type narratives. Worked fine with Bard's Tale III.

    You've already announced distaste for JRPGs so I could see you calling it quits in middle of one and your readers finishing it, giving explanation what happened afterwards. Are you going to make GIMLET based only on your experiences or would you adjust when rest of the plot is known.

    However, I'd imagine this type reader collaboration becoming useful when games begin to have multiple endings and/or plot differences based on character classes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good questions. I don't really have a solid plan yet. I actually don't like to PLAN to stop playing games. No matter how many I abandon, I always have this sense that I'm going to win every one from now on. The next time I quit before the end, I'll come up with a system.

      Delete
  12. I admire people's patience and stamina with these older games; I don't think I have what it takes any more (if I ever actually did). As it is, right now I'm trying to play through the Dungeon Siege remake of Ultima V, and even that feels like slow-going, despite an interface, sound, graphics, and animation that are all light-years ahead of the original.

    Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've found that while I do enjoy playing older computer (and console) games, I only play the games I played as a kid more than once. I'm still playing XCOM, Master of Magic, Colonization, and SSI's Stronghold regularly.

      Of the four games I just mentioned, I cannot find a suitable replacement in any modern game. With the exception of SSI's Stronghold, there have been remakes or very similar games made more recently, but they never seem to hit the same chord.

      I guess nostalgia-tinted glasses are a hell of a thing.

      Delete
  13. Last night found another reason to live, as CDProjekt is taking on conversing my personal Tabletop RPG favorite to CRPG form.

    http://www.actiontrip.com/news/cd-projekts-cyberpunk-game-official/053112_2

    Just wanted to spread the joy.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If it makes you feel any better, I recall kinda liking Megatraveller 1, and really liking Megatraveller 2. I thought both were better than Sentinel Worlds, that's for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could never figure out the first one's combat system. The game starts with a battle and its one I always lost.

      Delete
  15. Paragon didn't go out of business as such - they were bought by MicroProse, for whom they developed Challenge of the Five Realsm and BloodNet, so there's more to look forward(?) to from them...

    ReplyDelete
  16. So I have been trying to play this game on my netbook off and on for a while now. I have made it to the second level of the second dimension, but there is no special enemy to battle, and if there is a search keyboard command, i can't figure it out. I have mapped the whole thing, and unless you can push through solid walls (which i don't think you can), there is no way to advance. If anyone happens to know how to get past this, I would greatly appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll reply to my own post in case anyone else is struggling through this game. You move up or down through levels of the maze via black squares on the floor or ceiling. Press 3 or 9 to move up and down. Healing tip: you can incapacitate monsters with paralyze or similar spells. Each turn, choose drink potion, but then hit escape instead of drinking. this will pass your turn, allowing you to heal HP and SCE. Rinse and repeat. My one concern is Chet's note above that many ingredients can be found in the 8 mazes in the second dimension. I've finished 6 mazes and found nothing. Is there a search key I am not aware of? It doesn't let you backtrack, so if I have really missed ingredients, i would love to know it now. This really isn't a good game, but I would love to finish it.

      Delete
    2. My guess is the number of people alive who have won this game is in the single digits. I hope you get your answer, but I never made it past the first dungeon level, so I can't help.

      Delete
    3. I'm sure you are right, as it sure is aggravating. I can (proudly?) add myself to the list, as i just beat Aldorin, the evil wizard. The answer is that lots of ingredients seem to be easier to find in the first dimension after you finish a lot of mazes in the second dimension, but it is hard to know if that is coincidence or not. The entire searching dynamic seemed to be coincidental and not cause and effect, but who knows? You apparently don't need to finish a lot of the sidequests in order to win. Anyway, keep up your great work here. I tend to go back and read your entries years later, as I don't want to read them before I play and finish each relevant game. So anytime you think you're behind, keep in mind there are people even further behind you!

      Delete
    4. Congratulations on your victory, then! Feel free to keep commenting on older games. I like occasionally having an excuse to revisit old postings.

      Delete

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