What it was:
The Wizards & Warriors series will always hold a special place in my heart. Growing up, my aunt had this game at her house on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). I would go over on weekends and spend hours playing through trying to get to a new level.
Developed by Rare and published by Acclaim, this epic adventure was lead by Kuros. As a kid, I had no idea there was a story, I just loved the platforming and complex levels. The original game features large environments; both horizontal and vertical. Loot (treasure, weapons, gadgets, etc.) could be found in so many different places and if you didn’t take the time to explore the levels, you could miss quite a bit. One could easily speed through the game with some skill and knowledge of a direct route, but exploring was half the fun.
Each stage had a drastically different look to it and always ended with a larger-than-life boss. If video game music is your thing, the original Wizards & Warriors title had some of the creepiest music in an NES title, too.
Later games didn’t quite capture the charm of the original, but featured the same emphasis on large, open areas with plenty of exploring. A shop mechanic was added, and the difficulty seemed to have spiked in Iron Sword: Wizards & Warriors I (though, admittingly, I never played the third Wizards & Warriors title).
What it could be:
Wizards & Warriors IV: The Return of Kuros (my fictitious title for the game) would release on Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade as a hot summer title. In stunning HD, this 2D platformer would feature the same exaggerated jumping physics as the original and keep the shop from Iron Sword. The environments would all have different themes and continue the trend of having large, sprawling areas to explore (complete with hidden areas).
On a completely wild note that probably no one else would like, there could even be a competitive mode (much like Crash Commando) with different options such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and maybe even an objective based mode. To add another layer of content, perhaps a co-op mode with two people playing to reach the same objective. One person could focus on exploring, say, the right side, while the other player explores the left. Mini-bosses could be a Co-op only feature, and require two people to work together.
The focus would be on the levels, though, and the loot within. Regardless of other modes, the single player has to be challenging. Given the trends in current-gen gaming, even finding various armors/colors to add a pinch of customization would be a fine addition (especially if there is any sort of co-op/versus).
Why it should be:
It’s always a 50/50 chance that a retro title being resurrected is going to suck. That’s a fact. But some come out and are so good that they make you want more (ie. Mega Man 9). Wizards & Warriors has plenty of potential in today’s market and would make a fine addition to any digital library. I would love to see a competitive mode for the simple fact that Crash Commando was amazing, and the more time that idea marinates in my little brain, the more excited I get for it. The more I think about the whole idea of a Wizards & Warriors IV, though, the more depressed I get that it hasn’t happened.
“Bring It Back” is a semi-regular column where writer Don Parsons takes a look back at some of his favorite games throughout his extensive years as a gamer, and dreams of having a follow-up. New games, old games.. none are off-limits.