Old fashioned arcade games are charming to me because they remind me of how simple games used to be. Classic games such as The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Warrior hold a place in my heart from the nostalgia of my early gaming days. When I saw Jonathan Lavigne post the occasional teasers for Wizorb last year on the PixelTao blog, my curiosity was piqued. The graphical style of an 8-bit game that mixed the concepts of Breakout with Zelda-styled dungeon crawling got me seriously wondering how everything would come together; especially as there weren’t any trailers made yet of how Wizorb would play until now. Does Wizorb merge old school with remixing concepts for a unique offering? Let’s take a look.
In Wizorb you are given a preface of the Kingdom of Gordo being completely destroyed. Our protagonist, Cyrus, ends up in Gordo with its inhabitants begging for a savior. Cyrus takes it upon himself to help them rebuild their fair kingdom. However, Cyrus is no ordinary wizard. He is skilled in black and white magic, as well as the secret magic of Wizorb. After the basic exposition is set, the game then takes you to the first of five towns that is taken over by evil. Each world is comprised of 12 rooms and a boss battle at the end. The first town serves as a means to orient the player to the mechanisms they have available at their disposal as well as concepts such as bonus rooms and merchants.
Through the orientation, the basics of Breakout are all there. Cyrus turns into a paddle and an orb; using the orb to break bricks and tiles through the levels. The Zelda adventure elements come from the chapters in levels (12 in each level) that feel more like rooms of a dungeon and have wandering monsters. In addition, there are keys and switches to open doors that lead to bonus rooms and item rooms. It’s a twist on the typical exploration element from the typical Zelda dungeon run.
While doing battle against various barriers and enemies, various items like coins, gems, mana potions, keys, and hearts may drop down for you to collect. Coins and gems just give Cyrus cash in his wallet to spend on shops in unlocked rooms and also financing repairs for the Kingdom of Gordo. Mana potions refill portions of the mana meter for Cyrus using his magic abilities. Hearts provide Cyrus extra lives just in case things get rough. On the same note, there are also things that to hinder and hurt Cyrus as well. The power ups and hindrances put the player in the classic challenge of a Breakout styled game, and you need to weigh if the power ups are worth the risk of losing the ball. Even though a majority of the game is reliant on hand-eye coordination, the black and white magic abilities allow the player to bend the odds in their favor.
Magic skills such as fireballs, wind gusts, magma ball, and teleport ball are powers that Cyrus has at his disposal to help even the odds at the price of some mana. The first two powers use a small fraction of mana while the last two use significantly more mana. Fireballs can be fired while the ball is away from the paddle to break/weaken blocks and enemies. Wind gusts allow the player to blow the ball’s trajectory towards where the paddle is to alter its path while the ball is away from the paddle. The magma ball can be used when the ball hits the paddle and on impact, charges the ball with magma to rip through many blocks for a few bounces. The teleport ball is a power the player can use when the ball is on the paddle from losing a life or when the ball hits the paddle.
The teleport ball allows the player to precisely place the ball where they wish and then lets the ball resume it’s trajectory. Should you burn all of your mana while there’s one block in a tight spot, Wizorb has a way you can regain mana. On hitting a non-breakable wall and the paddle ten times, the Cyrus regains a little bit of mana back. You can also refill your mana at the merchant using gold that you earn while battling enemies. You can also pick up extra lives and magnets while you’re there. If the player is frugal and still has a big purse after they defeat that towns boss, they can use their earnings to help finance the repairs of Gordo and help the people rebuild their fair town. At the end of the day Cyrus’ main objectives are to defeat the greatest evil plaguing the world, all while helping the Kingdom of Gordo rebuild from their ruin.
Before we close the review, I will inform anyone who reads this that Mr. Lavigne is aware that there is an error code 4 when playing with Xbox Live Gold at the current time that is awaiting a patch. The future patch right now pending and one way to circumventing the issue is to play with an Xbox Live Silver account.
While the game play is essentially very simplistic and the mixing of an action RPG with an arcade game is very refreshing, I feel it is the overall fit, feel, and finish of Wizorb that wrap the game together as a wonderful experience for the discerning person who desires a fun nostalgic remix. Wizorb may just seem like an arcade game for the majority of the underpinnings without much total content; but it is a great diversion from a long day of work when the obsession to go through a map to completion is there. Anyone who either revers old fashioned arcade games or old action RPG’s from the 8 and 16 bit eras should give Wizorb a look. Should you want to give it a shot, there’s a demo available on Xbox Live Indie games for download now. If the folks at Tribute Games have you convinced, Wizorb may be purchased for 240 Microsoft Points ($3).