Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wizardry V: Final Rating

From a more exhaustive reading of the walkthrough post-game, I found that if you take the time to find some secret doors, you can encounter the god Lala Moo-Moo. I can't imagine what level you'd have to be to actually defeat him.

Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom
Sir-Tech Software (1988)
Andrew Greenberg, David W. Bradley
Date Started: 24 November 2011
Date Ended: 18 June 2012
Total Hours: 80
Difficulty: Difficult (4.5/5)
Final Rating: 37
Ranking at Time of Posting: 40/63 (63%)

There's nothing I can say in summary of this game that you haven't heard before.

Wizardry I was a seminal entry in the history of CRPGs. It was the first multi-character game; the first game with a complex spell system; the first game to offer such a wide variety of foes; the first game to offer so many character classes and specializations. I think it was the first game to offer a choice of alignments. It inspired Richard Garriott to offer multiple party members in Ultima III, and in its interface and approach to combat, it directly inspired both the Might & Magic and The Bard's Tale series.

Why were the developers unable to carry that innovation forward? While Wizardry's descendants made enormous strides in the depth and quality of the story, the nature of encounters, the use of NPCs, the variety of equipment, and the complexity of combat, Wizardry offered essentially the same graphics and gameplay experience for four more entries and seven more years.

"Essentially the same" and "exactly the same" don't mean the same thing, though, and it would be dishonest not to recognize a few of the additions to this game, starting with the complexity of the puzzles. I didn't like them, but some players might. The game blended CRPG gameplay with adventure-game-style inventory puzzles, and the game was largely an experience of finding Item A to open a passage to Item B to give to Character C to obtain Item D, and so on. The problem is that, unlike adventure games, most of the items were nonsensical. If they had just been keys and such, I might have found that annoying and inoffensive, but instead we had a rubber duck, and playing cards, and a caged bird, and a bag of tokens, and the whole thing was just goofy.

The second innovation was, to me, a little more welcome: advanced NPC interaction. The ability to talk, steal from, and barter with NPCs throughout the dungeon added a level of complexity to encounters that is present in only a few other games of the era. These encounters, and the hints that you learn from the dialogue, are absolutely necessary to finishing the game. I wish the NPCs hadn't included such a cavalcade of nonsense, but the interface itself was a good idea.

Overall, though, I'm glad that the series took a different approach to its next outing, which I'll play when I get to 1990.

On to the GIMLET:

1. Game World. As basic as they get. The somewhat incomprehensible backstory--involving someone called "The SORN" imprisoning "The Gatekeeper" and upsetting the "Triaxial Balance" is just an excuse for a long slog through a featureless 8-level dungeon. Programming had progressed to the point that the developers ought to have been able to give each dungeon level some kind of character or theme, like in Ultima Underworld, in text if not in graphics. But instead they populated the dungeon levels with silly characters and encounters. The rest of the "world" doesn't fare any better: the castle is a copy of the first game, with very little memorable about it. On the plus side, the game does remember aspects of your progress throughout the dungeon. "Found" secret doors remain uncovered, and slain NPCs remain dead. Score: 3.

2. Character Creation and Development. Although these factors haven't advanced much since the first game, they were reasonably good even then. Few other games of the era restrict character classes based on attributes and alignments, and I can't think of any others that offer "prestige" classes (lord, samurai, and ninja) that become available when your attributes are high enough. Leveling, with the consequent increases in attributes, spells, and hit points, is usually satisfying and rewarding. But as far as I can tell, character classes and alignments don't affect anything about the game, and this is one of the few games that still doesn't allow sexes. Score: 4.

Unfortunately, leveling up wasn't always rewarding.

3. NPC Interaction. As noted above, we finally get some in this game. If only the NPCs themselves were more sensible and interesting rather than mostly comedy walk-ons. There are no "dialogue options," but there are Ultima IV-style keyword options. (Everyone responds to "HAIL," much like "JOB" in Ultima IV.) Talking and bartering with NPCs is necessary for quest completion and game progression. They could have done better with this, but it was definitely an improvement over the previous entries. Score: 5.

NPC interactions were technically good but narratively stupid.

4. Encounters and Foes. Aside from the NPCs, "encounters" were mostly of the inventory-puzzle variety and left little role for role-playing or even logic. Encounters with monsters almost inevitably led directly to battle. Most levels featured a host of roving monsters and two or three boss-level fights. This is definitely a game in which it's worth noting each monster and its special attacks, because you have to plan defense and offense carefully. Adding a twist to this process is the fact that you don't always know what foes you're facing. The game just gives you general descriptions ("5 weird monsters") and you have to guess.

I think the "fiery entity" is a fire elemental, but I'm not sure what the "demonic figure" is.

Again, a lot of the monsters were just dumb (Quasimodo, Beauty and the Beast, King Kong), but they were certainly memorable. Respawning is no problem; you can grind on any level as long as you'd like, but the "(R)un" option usually works if you're just trying to get somewhere. Score: 5.

5. Magic and Combat. I highlighted the combat system of the first game as a major strong point, and I still have to give it credit even though I was sick of it by the end. Wizardry is one of the few game series in which you feel an authentic sense of fear as you explore the dungeons. Even allowing for reloading, the permanent-death nature of the game has significant consequences (at best, you have to take the time to quit, restore the backups, reload, and re-add your party members), meaning that you can't half-ass the combats. From the moment you leave the castle, you're balancing the length of your exploration with your available spells and diminishing hit points. One bad combat that kicks your characters into the single digits can leave you with a palpable sense of doom as you creep towards the stairs and back to safety.

In many postings, I've emphasized the differences between Wizardry's approach and other games' approaches, but they're worth repeating. In Might & Magic, which otherwise seems a lot like Wizardry, you can rest and restore your spell points and hit points at almost any time. This means that for Might & Magic, the difficulty is in individual combats rather than accumulated combats. Pool of Radiance was similar to Might & Magic except there was more of a risk associated with resting. Wizardry V remains hard-core, though: you don't replenish a single spell until you return to the castle (barring one pool on Level 7), so you have to ration your spells carefully. You have to watch your hit points, and the success or failure of your attacks on enemies, and know when it's time to just let your melee characters finish the combat, or when it's time for one more LAHALITO.

Now would be a good time to start heading for the exit.
I don't necessarily love the spells themselves. Too many of them seemed useless. The priest's MONTINO ("silence") spell should have worked more often. There should have been a party-wide heal spell. Some of the high-level spells are one-use only; they disappear from your book the moment you cast them. There is no spell that adequately protects against the game's multitude of spellcasters. Basically, as with many other games, you find yourself over-relying on the same selection of mass-damage spells rather than carefully plotting your spell attacks. That's my experience, at least; I'm curious if other people see it differently. Score: 5.

6. Equipment. The game certainly doesn't spoil you. At the end, my best armor was a plate mail +2 and my best weapon was something like a battle axe +2. But since there's such a variety--melee weapons, ranged weapons, armor, helmets, gloves, potions, scrolls, rings, and other special items--and since the game seems bent on robbing you of your gear through thieves and magnetic traps, almost every expedition results in one or two useful upgrades.

Identification of equipment is needlessly annoying. It's too expensive to do at the store (the price for identifying is the same as the sale price of the item), so you have to rely on a bishop. If you choose not to adventure with the bishop, you have to keep one hanging around Gilgamesh's Tavern, but since he doesn't level with you, he has trouble with some of the more advanced items. Every attempt at identification has a chance of causing fear, which leaves the bishop unable to identify anything else until you cure it. For me, identifying my equipment was tedious process of repeatedly curing the bishop until he finally got it right. Towards the end, I just started paying for it, even though I could ill afford it along with all the resurrections.

Crooked Bee with his equipment, and a few unidentified items.

I never did quite understand what was happening when I "evoked the power" of some of my items. It would usually cause some change in my attributes or health, but these changes never seemed permanent, and I couldn't get a handle on what caused them to wear off. Sometimes "evoking" caused the item to disappear, but sometimes it didn't. This aspect of gameplay was not well explained in the manual. Score: 4.

7. Economy. You get money for killing monsters, and you spend it on healing, item identification, and occasional quest-related purchases. I never had too much money, which (as you know) I prefer, but the system isn't complex enough to give it a very high score. Score: 4.

8. Quests. The main quest consists of a series of stages leading to just one outcome. It never really made all that much sense, partly because "The S*O*R*N" has no compelling back story. There are no side quests in the game. Score: 2.

9. Graphics, Sound, and Interface. The wireframe graphics are pretty awful at this point, although I thought some of the monster portraits were well-done. The game is best played with the sound off. I do give it points for the interface, though, which I found very intuitive. It was all keyboard-driven, but the keys made sense and I was able to enter even complex strings of commands very quickly. I like how holding down the ENTER key allows you to blow through combat with easy foes. Score: 3.

10. Gameplay. Here's where, in my opinion, the game fails. The nature of the inventory puzzles makes the game extremely linear. It has virtually no replayability. If you don't spend hours and hours grinding, it's too hard (especially at the latter stages), and if you do spend hours and hours grinding, it's too long. I thought the dungeon levels were far too large and empty to hold my attention. What makes all of this particularly notable is that the creators didn't intend for the player to restore backups. A "straight" player would have all of these problems plus the annoyance of constantly replacing dead characters. A challenge is good, but this game ends up being repetitive torture. Score: 2.

This gives us a final rating of 37, equivalent to the first Wizardry. While this game improves upon NPCs, equipment, and a couple other areas, it lacks the first game's brisk gameplay, and many of V's "innovations" annoy rather than impress. I didn't deliberately engineer the rating to come out equal to I, but I think it says something accurate that in seven years, Sir-Tech was unable to fundamentally improve on the experience that they first offered in the CRPG Bronze Age.

"Heart of the Maelstrom is a complete revision of the Wizardry gaming system..." Wow, Sir-Tech had some balls.

Dennis Owens gave Heart of the Maelstrom a positive review in the February 1989 issue of Computer Gaming World. I don't understand why the game's throwback graphics and sound didn't spark any disdain. One thing he did complain about was long loading times and frequent disk access--something I fortunately don't have to deal with 24 years later. He concludes that "the game is a must for any adventure gamer's computer-game library," a statement with which I will unfortunately have to disagree.

It looks like this was Andrew Greenberg's last contribution to the series that he co-created--and frankly, I'm not sure if he had much of a role in the game; MobyGames's "trivia" section claims that David Bradley designed this one on his own. Greenberg's next credit is on Dracula Unleashed, a 1993 adventure game, and I don't think I'll play another of his games until Dungeon Lords in 2005. Bradley continues to be credited on the next two Wizardry games, and I look forward to seeing how they develop.

And with that, my friends, we are finally out of 1988 and ready to move on to 1989. I'm going to have a transition posting coming before I jump into NetHack, version 3. Thanks for sticking with me through this difficult year.

Alas, the intrepid party did not survive the battle with La-La-Moo-Moo. Their names, I'm sure, shall live on in infamy.


  1. Good GIMLET, although I think the lack of progression from WIZ1 maybe should have yielded a slightly lower score to reflect that. Glad you stuck this one out with added help from restoring backups and walkthroughs, it gives a nice conclusion to the "old testament" series of WIZ games. For my part I'm all for using those kinds of help if you have exhausted all other reasonable means, just to see the game through to it's end. I'm curious if you are going to blend your approach, i.e. going hard-core style in the beginning but yielding to help when the frustration point is exceeded. Especially when that prevents burn-out on your part. Up and onward to 1989!

    1. I thought about subtracting a point or two in the "bonus" section for that, but I feel like I have to rate games against themselves rather than against each other. Frankly, if I had LIKED the interface, I wouldn't have complained about the lack of development.

      I remember getting infuriated at a review of Icewind Dale II that bemoaned that "the Infinity Engine isn't getting any younger." It was one of the greatest engines developed for CRPGs, and no one ought to have been rooting for its demise. I didn't like the Aurora engine half as much.

    2. Hear hear. And while the Infinity Engine comes off even better in comparison nowadays (lovingly crafted 2D backdrops age much better than low end, repetitive 3D), the suggestion that it was aging poorly was ridiculous even at the time.

      Oh well. At least CDProjekt and Obsidian managed to get something halfway decent out of the Aurora engine, even if Bioware never did. (I like NWN, or at least subsequent modules for it, but -despite- the engine.)

  2. It's a nice bookend to finished V after only completing I, seeing as how the games didn't change all that much, I don't think it would have benefited you to finish the mid ones.

    I'm looking forward to you moving on to 1989, although playing Nethack wouldn't be my first choice after the amount of effort needed to get through Wizardry V. I would suggest Curse of the Azure Bonds, unless you're saving that one for after an even greater tribulation. ;)

    1. Yeah, that is a good point. If you are frustrated by random deaths, going into nethack isn't a good idea.

    2. "Bookending" is one of the reasons I wanted to be sure I finished this one.

      I'm only going to do one or two postings on NetHack before moving on to other games, returning to NH occasionally. As you'll see in my next posting, I expect my NH play to last most of the year.

  3. Nethack without ANY spoilers would take an extremely long time. I'm not sure if Chet is still intending to try that.

    Chet, I think you'll have the most fun with Nethack if you request people NOT to spoil you until you specifically ask for it. There is so much to discover in Nethack, but often people will "help" too much and interfere with a new player's sense of accomplishment from discovery. If that happens, then the game becomes far more about following someone else's tips than actually playing, which would be unfortunate.

    Overall, I would suggest playing for between 2-4 weeks without spoilers (or perhaps while only asking for very specific hints) and seeing how far you can get. Then, if you're ready to wrap it up, you could open the spoiler flood gates.

    1. I completely agree with Dave. People love to offer "help" for games like Nethack but a lot of the fun in Nethack is discovering things for yourself. Even if half of those discoveries end up killing you. Which, you know, they will.

    2. You need to recognize also that most people will give hints/spoilers for the most recent version of Nethack rather than the version The Addict is playing (this was the case when he played the 2.x version at least), so it is likely that the help isn't even applicable to him.

    3. I am still intending to try it without spoilers--at least at the outset. As you say, I might request specific (ROT13) assistance when I'm stuck. I might also appreciate the occasional hint ("Hey, Chet, there was more to do with that sink...").

      As you'll see in my next posting, though, I intend to spread my NH play over a long period (unless I get extraordinarily lucky in an early game).

      Ragnar, good point on the versions.

  4. Wizardy 6: Bane of the Cosmic Forge should be a significant improvement over Wizardry 5, and is a game to look forward to.
    OK graphics(still not VGA even if it was available, but OTOH it does have some titilating National Geographics style nudity)and animations, more logical puzzles, challenging but not frustrating combat with decent encounter design, nicely designed and themed levels and an interesting background story.
    The best CRPG of 1991, IMO.

    But I must agree with others that Nethack doesn't sound like the right game to "clean the palette" after Wizardry 5, as it has much of the same "Ha ha! You're dead, sucker!" design philosphy of Wizardry 1-5.

  5. My characters were between levels 17-24 and I was able to defeat him. Though not every time.

    My team.

    1. By him I mean La-la Moo-moo, of course!

    2. Some notes about your play after reading your Gimlet:

      --Did you use the Latumapic spell at all? It sounds like you often had creatures that were unidentified. The first thing I'd do when heading into the dungeon was cast Lomilwa, Latumpaic, Maporfic, and I think there may have been a fourth one in Wiz V.

      --More than 1 pool actually restores your spell points. You need to do a lot of experimenting with the pools since if you send down a fighter to a level that gives or takes away spell points, you'll just get a Nothing Happened response. Same with levels of pools that heal conditions or resurrect characters. You need lower down a dead or incapacitated character to discover those levels.

      --And yes, I always end up relying on Madalto and Lahalito and Tiltowait and Mabariko and Lorto (not in this game!) and such. And especially with the pools that raise your spell points, it becomes nine fights with nine tiltowaits and then back to the pool!

      --Wizardry I was the first CRPG I ever played and I never beat it. But I played it for years! I also never beat II (at least, not with my own characters) or III. But I did beat IV and V back in the day with no clues, so they're possible. If, you know, you have a lot of time and not a lot of other games to play. Overall, I think the Wizardry series (right up through 8) was a great series that just doesn't stand up to what people expect from a game nowadays. Although I can still lose myself in Wiz I trying to accumulate all the best loot in the game. And the play is so fast which can't quite be said for Wiz V (maybe that was the "complete overhaul"--they made is so much slower.

    3. Well, now I feel like an idiot. I thought LATUMAPIC was a combat-only spell. I never used it because I didn't want to waste a combat round doing nothing but identifying enemies. I see now that it's an "always-on" spell. Bollocks. Thanks for the belated notification, though.

      Looking at a walkthrough later, I got the same sense about the pools. I did miss a lot of their potential benefits because of that issue, but honestly, most of the pool levels were so deadly that it was folly to keep experimenting with them--especially if I wasn't making backups.

    4. It's not surprising you thought that about LATUMAPIC since it was a combat only spell in the first Wizardry and maybe II and III as well. I forget when it changed to long term spell and actually became useful.

    5. LATUMAPIC was non-combat in Wizardry 1 as well.

  6. Good rating on Wiz5 and good luck with Nethack. I, and I'm sure others here, have finished it several times and will be glad to point you in the right direction as the need arises.

    1. Thanks. I'll probably need the help eventually!

  7. You wrote a very good and evenhanded review. You captured the essence of wizardry quite well. I can say that the graphics of VI and VII do improve. As to the gameplay, I will leave to your judgement. Will you be doing comparisons when you get the Curse of the Azure Bonds? What I meand is comparing it with it's forbear, Pool of Radiance? I find looking at a series' development over the long term to be illuminating. Thank you.

    1. I'm sure I will. But I loved the engine for POR, so I can't imagine that it won't be a favorable comparison.

    2. "Eventually" you may try playing this ;)

    3. a different font would have been appreciated, but I must say that's awesome.

    4. Thankfully, MobyGames had this one, and it's on my list for 1997. I look forward to it!

  8. Not that you need more modern games as distractions, but one that should seem interesting was The Dark Spire (Nintendo DS release by Atlus):

    It was heavily in the style of the old Wizardry games like this (including a retro mode to use wire-frame graphics and simplified music).

    It was moderately enjoyable to play through for a while; the beginning was punishingly hard grinding to get to a decent level to even survive the first floor.

    I regret hitting up the walkthrough as often as I did, but a lot of things were designedly obtuse- blacked out areas, searching for special things/encounters for missions when all you know is the floor it is on(and even direction of facing on square of the map is important).

    Combat also did get a little repetitive(down to the mass damage spells as win buttons), but at least every 2-3 floors had a different theme and graphical style.

    1. Lot of that going around on the DS, actually. For a year or so, there was a revival of interest in old-school dungeon-crawlers. I was somewhat fond of Etrian Odyssey II, myself.

    2. I've been play Dark Spire on and off since it was released. A good old-school RPG. But, it really made me realize how unnecessarily long the random encounters make some of these games.

      I've recently made it to the last floor. But, there was a lot of grinding in the beginning. I have just over 100 hours in this one and I'm guessing another 10 to go when I finally get back to playing it. Although I would guess a lot of this time was spent leveling characters with reloads (another old school device I'm glad died out).

  9. Bleh - Nethack. Don't see the attraction myself. It's really a randomized puzzle game more than a RPG - at least 80% of the gameplay is figuring out how to avoid all the stupid ways you can off or doom yourself (i.e. recreating the spoiler files, in other words), the rest is hoping the RNG doesn't screw you.

  10. Congratulations on finishing 1988 and a happy new 1989!

    I'm still catching up all previous posts (at mid 2011 currently), but it is great reading. Keep up the fun.

  11. I like the stats section in the beginning of the final rating posts, but would it be possible to move it to the end - It spoils the excitement to read through the GIMLET categories, when the final score has already been revealed. Just my 2 cents..

    1. I suppose that's a good point. How about I leave it at the beginning but don't add it until a week or so has passed after the initial posting?

    2. Well, it's not a big deal anyway. I don't want to add any unnecessary trouble for you, but if you feel good about coming back and adding it afterwards, it would obviously solve this issue.

  12. When you get to Wiz 6, be sure to keep using keyboard controls. The early version I originally played didn't even have mouse support, but I found the keyboard to be much more efficient when I played the Wizardry Archives version.

    1. Yes, I agree with this statement. I dare to say that the keyboard controls of Wizardry 6 are perfect.

      Lord Hienmitey.

  13. (Reposting. I can't get OpenID to work, maybe this will show up...)

    Wizardry 6-8 are among my favorite RPGs, and the only trilogy that I still replay from time to time. Despite that, I've never played the fifth one...and doesn't look like I missed much.

    Nethack next? Cor blimey.
    I've completed Moria, Larn, Omega, various Angbands, etc. But I played Nethack for years and never came close to winning... Spoilers would've helped a lot, but we had no net back then.

    Such a timesink, almost as bad as Mordor: The Depths of Dejenol.

  14. Nethack!

    Version 3.0 of Nethack changed a lot about the game's underlying systems.

    To prepare for this, might I suggest looking at the Nethack Wiki's history of the game? It's at:

    Nethack 3.0's page is at:

    There were eleven versions released of 3.0. It added many many more monsters and items to the game. Some of the special levels appear for the first time, especially in the endgame. Of special note, the game's alignment system (on a Lawful/Chaotic axis) and gods are introduced here. If you find that you need to be spoiled, the WCST Spoilers were written for this version of the game. A quick Googling finds them at:

    After this the next major change in the game comes with 3.1, which adds the modern dungeon, many other features, and brings the game much closer to its current-day form.

  15. (Er, so the version you will probably want to play is 3.0.10, which was the last official version released of that line, with the most bugs fixed.)

    1. I've had trouble finding a workable download for 3.0.10, but I've found one for 3.0.09 which doesn't sound like it has many problems that 3.0.10 fixed, so I'll probably be going with that.

  16. (Hm... looking over the history page I gave you, there are significant spoilers on it. You might want to skip it.)

    1. Thanks for the warning! I found a version history on a NetHack wiki that seems to work okay.

  17. You named one of your characters Crooked Bee?

    Wizardry didn't really start trying new things until 6-8, so you might enjoy those a bit more. 8 was quite a giant leap and I think it's a bit sad the company was pretty much doomed regardless of how well the game would do (Probably not well, its genre was out of style by the time it came out)

    1. Crooked Bee is a staff member at RPG Codex.

  18. It might have been pointed out previously, but there was a significant enhancement in the engine and graphics for Wizardry 4 & 5 as compared to Wizardry I, II, & III. However, these enhancements are most noticeable on the Apple II, where the first entries are from 81, 82, and 83, and IV/V are from 87/88. It's really a night and day difference. I-III have the infamous Apple II color bleeding and I needed to play them in Monochrome mode to reduce eye strain! IV & V look great by comparison and not much different than the Apple II versions of Might & Magic I/II or Bard's Tale I-III. Beyond the graphics, seemingly minor features, such as the ability to pool gold weren't present in the initial game.

    The PC versions of I to V are very similar to each other as the engine was essentially the same and the release dates are far closer, so much less progression is noteable. In addition, the PC version of at least Wizardry I is incredibly frustrating, especially with the leveling up bug. The Apple II version is far smoother and enjoyable. Because I is so much better, this leads to a better experience with "scenarios II & III."

    The Apple & PC versions of IV & V are basically the same, with the addition of a few extra colors on the Apple II.
    From the standpoint of improvement game over game, Wizardry still falls far short as compared to Ultima or Might & Magic. However, that's in part because as compared to Wizardry I/II/III, Ultima I & II were comparatively unpolished and then IV & V were all-time classics.

    On the Apple II, Wizardry offered the most polished dungeon crawling experience from 81-85, and then Might & Magic I/II refined and expanded the formula.

  19. I'm glad you managed to finish Wizardry 5. I think it's a great series and was a bit dissapointed you never beat 2-4, though I can understand your reasoning for it.

    I actually really enjoyed the puzzles in this one. Sure, they were kind of bizarre, but as a long time adventure game I think I've become acclimated to that sort of thing. I don't think I ever realized how antiquated the engine was by this point though.

    Again, being too young to play when most of these originally came out, I played them as hand-me-downs many years later. Playing through them all more or less contemopraneously, I think I simply understood them all to be from the same era. In that mindset, Wizardry VI seemed like an amazing leap in technology to me. I can see how this would be frustrating when compared to it's competitors that year, however.

    I haven't really revisited any of the Wizardry games before 6 in quite some time. As others have mentioned, 6 is a great leap forward in style. I think you'll enjoy it a lot, but the cream of the crop to me is still 7. Wizardry VII is still perhaps my favorite game in the franchise, though 8 was amazing as well. I'm grateful that Wizardry, at least, ended on a strong note. It seems like Ultima couldn't pull that off, and Might and Magic certainly couldn't. At least one of the classic RPG franchises went out with a bang.

    1. You prefer to think the Japanese fork of the franchise doesn't exist then?

    2. Correct. They have neither the comedy tone of the earlier ones, nor the scifi story of the latter. They simply exist in their own little world and seem only connected in the same way early Dragon Quest is to the Wizardry series. While I do enjoy JRPGs, not so much the Wizardry JRPGs - fortunate for me since they rarely get US releases and I only import RPGs I can more or less understand.

  20. AlphabeticalAnonymousOctober 17, 2021 at 8:49 PM

    > [After Wizardry I], Wizardry offered essentially the same graphics and gameplay experience for four more entries and seven more years.

    I was struck between the similarity of your statement above to your comments of several other Big Series of CRPGs. For example, at the conclusion of the Gold Box series: "The Gold Box goes out neither with a bang nor a whimper, but with something in between: a solid, well-crafted, challenging entry that nonetheless fails to break any significant ground." And regarding the Dunjonquest series: that if its developers "had continued to develop this system, the Dunjonquest line would be better-remembered and better-regarded today. Instead, the company took what was arguably the best IP in CRPG-dom and spent the next six years handicapping it... If the company had spent those years on sequels, improving the engine, rather than simplistic expansions, it could have eclipsed Wizardry and Ultima."

    Those similarities make the contrast with Ultima -- the other Big Series, which overhauled its gameplay with practically each new release -- even more stark. I wonder what it was that Garriott and Origin had, that the people behind these other Big Series lacked...

    1. i think it's pertinent that every ultima was a new, from-scratch endeavor. with that in mind, richard [and origin in general] weren't really building towards a fixed toolset with an engine and everything. they were often building their engine from the ground up for every ultima game.

      in an environment like that, you can - quite easily - just throw everything out and start anew. and that's - i think - what they did. they recognized - probably from letters and from their own experiences - that some things worked really well [take how the moon gates evolve, for example], and they were able to slowly iterate on that idea but with better programming [and feedback from players] to make those items more interesting.

      this didn't always work out, of course - i think the delineating line for ultima fans is likely u6/u7, but i think it's true for /most/ of those games throughout the years.

      contrast this with other games that had engines that they used until the wheels fell off [like wizardry.] - they didn't need to "innovate" too much. just extrapolate - that is: they could build a little on the already-solid base they had before.

  21. Among other platforms, a version of HotM was published in Japan in 1992 for the Super Famicom/SNES and this in turn brought 'back' to the US. Due to Nintendo of America's censorship, nudity and revealing outfits were excised, as were references to alcohol and religion or explicit mentions of death, as e.g. described in Sam Derboo's article on Wizardry V for HG101.

    There is an English fan translation patch of the original Japanese SNES version which makes a few grammar corrections to the US version, too.

    Besides a gallery of screenshot comparisons at the end of the HG101 article, you can also see differences between the Japanese version / fan translation and the censored/modified US version e.g. in this video.

    [The intention of this comment is just to complement information and not to reopen the thread discussion on (the use of) nudity in the Wiz VI posts... . BTW, Derboo's article on the latter uses screenshots from this blog for most of those of the DOS / IBM PC version featured there - giving due credit.]


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