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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Legacy of the Wizard – Holy Hell



System: Nintendo (NES)

Release Date: 1989

Genre: Action RPG/Platforming
Developer: Quintet

Publisher: Broderbund


Anyone who has even played a moderate amount of Nintendo has probably come across Legacy of the Wizard at some point. If you are one of the few who did not play it, or had friends who played it then consider yourself lucky. Some people love this game, and others despise it with the fury of a million suns. Myself? Well I enjoyed it on occasion, but usually ended up getting too frustrated to really make any progress towards beating it.  Oh sure, the music is good, the graphics look pretty, and the game mechanics/controls are decent enough to make playing the game fun, for a while anyway.
            The basic premise of the game involves a family of woodcutters, tasked with defeating an evil dragon who was originally sacked and defeated by the grandfather using the magic “Dragon Slayer” sword.  Even though the dragon is locked away deep underground, the parents fear the dragon is soon to reawaken, and rush to prepare for battle. Each member of the family has special powers, and a unique role in helping out on the quest to
The Dragon.
recover the magic sword, and once again defeat the dragon of their grandfather’s time. This is about as much as I ever read in the manual growing up, because let’s face it, kids don’t want to read, they want to play.
            The part I missed out on was the fact that the sword itself is protected by four sacred crowns. The Dragon Slayer can only be relinquished after all four of these sacred crowns have been collected from deep within the dungeon. As it turns out, each crown can only be collected by using specific family members using their unique abilities. Along the way, special items and weapons can be picked up, either from hidden treasure chests, or from shops buried deep underground. Each item/weapon can only be used by specific family members, and you have to return to the family house on the surface to switch characters, and equip special items. This means that the order in which you collect the crowns is specific. If you don’t travel to a certain area first to collect a specific magic item, you will not be able to access another area of the dungeon later on.
            My biggest problem was the fact that they did not tell you what the order for collecting these crowns were, or what character to use in each area.  The other major headache was the lack of a basic dungeon map. The game gives you nothing. In fact, the owner’s manual actually recommends that the player spend some time exploring the dungeon, and then simply suggests that the player draw their own map. Talk about time consuming. Wait a second…the original Legend of Zelda didn’t have a map system either, and it too was vague on where to go next. That’s right, ZELDA of all games, was just as much, if not more cryptic than Legacy of the Wizard. So why did I like Zelda, and not like Legacy of the Wizard? Well, Zelda had only one playable character, and Legacy of the Wizard gave you five to choose from. With Link you always knew what your abilities were, and you could easily switch your weapons and tools around to best meet your needs for the situation at hand.

So my typical experience with this game went something like this:

            “Hey I think I will play Nintendo”

            “What game do I want to play?”

            “I am tired of RoboCop, and I am stuck on level 4 of Zelda….I know, Legacy of the Wizard….I haven’t played that one in a while, maybe I can finally make some progress this time…

::AFTER ABOUT AN HOUR OF GAMEPLAY::

            “Fuck this game! I can’t figure out where to go…I just keep going around in circles. I will never play this game again!”

All these items can be yours...if you can find trhem
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            Even with all the online content available today, this game still remains difficult. I have watched walkthroughs on YouTube, and ready through various tutorials and FAQs. Even with all the different maps found online this game just continues to frustrate me. I have been able to progress a lot farther these days than I did as a kid, but the game is still tricky enough that I end up getting frustrated and giving up.  A good example of this can be found in the seeminly simple task of using the gloves to move  certain stones around. You would think it would be somewhat easy, but the controls associated with moving them around is so tricky and awkward that it just made me give up.

        
 
 Maybe someday I will get around to playing the game all the way through. Oh shit. Who the hell am I kidding? I know I will never have the patience to get through this thing. But that doesn’t mean I won’t occasionally enjoy at least a little bit of gameplay. Right?