Legacy of the Wizard

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As a child, I was a regular visitor to rental stores, especially after they started carrying video games. These days, you don’t rent at a store. You do it at an online store like Gamefly or download the free trial version. But the three-day rentals were what we had as kids.

One game I rented four times back then was Legacy Of the Wizard. I enjoyed it but couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. Maybe the manual gave you an idea of what to look for, but somebody always managed to lose it before you rented the game. Most games, you could play without any inside info, but not this one.

And don’t tell me that I just suck at video games. I have read many reviews of this game and lots of these reviewers had the same problem. I agree that this game doesn’t suck because of how excessively well-hidden the goals are, but it’s at least hindered by that.

I did manage to complete this game later on. I got a magazine that had a password that left you ready to fight the final boss. He wasn’t so tough, so I finally got to see the ending (one of the better ones of the NES days). Since I didn’t feel like spending a birthday or Christmas on Legacy Of the Wizard, that was that.

For a long time to come, I never even touched this game. Recently, though, Youtube’s Wanderinglobo did a video review of this game. I thought it was pretty good and following a short conversation on Twitter with him, I decided to do my own review. To this end, I resorted to online guides. Otherwise, it probably would’ve taken months. And with this long introduction over…

Plot: 8 out of 10

The manual states that a long time ago, a wizard used his magic to seal away an evil dragon named Keela. Many years later, his descendents have discovered that Keela is reviving himself.

The descendents of this wizard are the Draslefamily. The wizard who took care of Keela before had a sword called the Dragonslayer, the only weapon that can destroy the dragon, that was hidden away to be kept safe, along with the crowns required to use the teleportation portraits needed to reach the Dragonslayer.

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One big, happy, slayin’ family!

Maybe it’s the sitcom fan in me, but I like this. It makes for a nice “family of heroes” angle similar to Dragon Quest. The family members (and the order in which you should use them) are as follows:

Pochi (“dog”): This little guy is the cute, friendly monster often seen in anime (Pikachu in Pokemon, Shippo in Inuyasha, etc.). Pochi looks like a dog in the ending and character select screens, but I guess he transforms into his true form when adventuring. Pochi is slow, doesn’t jump very high, his attack is extremely short-ranged, and can’t equip most items. He does hit hard, but but his real saving grace is that he can’t be hurt by common enemies. Spikes, long falls, and bosses can hurt him, but he can pass safely among non-boss monsters because he is one of them. You might think this unfair, but in Pochi’s area, this turns out to be important because it’s hard to avoid taking hits. Plus, using enemies as jumping platforms is helpful.

Lyll (early teens daughter): Not a heavy hitter, but she can jump really high. This makes it easier for her to avoid damage than the others, so I wouldn’t worry. She can use the Mattock to destroy blocks.

Meyna (mother): A wizard, she can use items that enable her to send blocks back and forth and fly.

Xemn (father): A stocky guy who, I assume, works the quarry. Accordingly, he can push blocks around and use them to reach high places. In fact, his area requires it.

Roas (late teens son): I’m not gonna lie. he kinda sucks. But he is the only one who can use the Dragonslayer.

Also, there’s Jiela and Douel, the grandparents. They’re retired, so all they do is give you your current password when you’re ready to quit so you can pick up where you left off next time you play.

Graphics: 7 out of 10

Nice look. The characters are well-detailed, as are their surroundings. Roas looks like they ripped off the descendent of Erdrick from Dragon Quest, though. Also, since there’s only one dungeon with a few huge areas, backgrounds repeat over and over.

Sound: 10 out of 10

Fantastic! the music is extremely memorable and well-fitting. From the preparation style of the character select screen to the sense of destiny in the early dungeon, to the exploratory means of conveyance in Meyna’s area to the tough-guy sense of Pochi’s area, despite his cuteness. The fact that he’s owning monsters while pretending to be an “ally” adds to it quite a bit.

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"Whaddaya mean you idiots couldn't recognize the spy? He's PINK, you cretins!"

“Whaddaya mean you idiots couldn’t recognize the spy? He’s PINK, you cretins!”

Gameplay: 9 out of 10

I repeat for the record that you have five characters, each with his/her own area specifically designed for his/her abilities. This both requires you to use them all and adds a little to the replay value of Legacy Of the Wizard.

You start by selecting a character and taking a short walk into the dungeon. There’s a little exploring before you reach the sealed-away Keela (you can’t fight him unless you have the Dragonslayer) and choose one of four paths. These are the areas that are each intended for a specific character. Each area has a crown in it. If you manage to find your way to that crown, you meet a boss. After killing  that boss, you’re sent back above ground to get the password. Upon getting all four crowns, it’s time for Roas to use them to activate assorted teleportation portraits in order to reach the Dragonslayer.

After that, it's time for Keela!

After that, it’s time for Keela!

The controls are quite simple but effective. You move throughout an extremely creative, well-designed dungeon to find things. Enemies leave behind more minor equipment depending on what you most need. You fight monsters using projectiles that take up magic power and attempt to find the crowns and Dragonslayer. You’ll have to buy certain items in stores littered throughout the dungeon like in the Legend Of Zelda. Like stores, inns are in the dungeon, giving you the ability to refill your life and magic as needed.

All said, I give high marks.

Challenge: 5 out of 10

The enemies are perfectly appropriate in difficulty, but there is still a major problem: getting around. It’s one thing to force you to find items just to access certain areas. Do action RPGs not generally do this?  And I don’t mind having to guess who to pick for where. Pochi is a natural choice because of his near invincibility and there’s only one area he can reach. After you get his crown, deciding who to choose for other areas gets easier through the process of elimination.

But the blocks? That’s a problem. It’s not that I object to you having to find or buy an item to clear away blocks. It’s just that of the three characters who deal with them, each does it with something different. It’s quite irritating to find or buy three items that all serve the same purpose.

But the bigger problem is that it’s too f*cking hard to find your way around. The reason is the fake blocks. Simply put, if you don’t prod every wall, ceiling, or floor, you will not complete this game. There should be hidden stuff, but not without the faintest indication of where they are.

Finally, the bosses are of a zigzag difficulty and located wrongly. The first two are easy. I assumed that Broderbund thought we deserved a break after such difficult puzzles. It thought right. Alas, the next two are much, much harder. Finally, Keela is below average in difficulty. Also, the first four bosses are placed not in specific areas but according to how many you’ve fought. Which means that if you don’t use the bad-in-a-fight Pochi and Lyll right away, you’re in trouble.

Overall: 8 out of 10

So how do you rate this excessively tough but actually very well done game? I can’t recommend playing it without an online guide. Still, I rated three categories more than seven, which is not exactly a bad hit/miss ratio.

I really can’t not recommend Legacy Of the Wizard. Just don’t try to complete it without any help.

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