As if Data East's Gate of Doom wasn't obscure enough, here's its little-known sequel.
Wizard Fire has you control your character of choice from a selection of five: Knight, Elf, Bard, Wizard, and Dwarf. Each one plays very differently with their own distinct attacks, spells, and stats. The basic gameplay has you navigate through isometric stages as you fight your way past hordes of dastardly enemies and bosses and the controls are simple as all you do is move your character, attack, and use magic. As you progress, you'll come across the odd treasure chest and items that allow you to equip stuff in order to enhance your combat and defensive abilities. Meanwhile, your magic meter fills as you fight enemies and once it's full enough, you can unleash certain spells to devastate your adversaries. In the end, it's a somewhat entertaining formula to play by yourself but playing cooperatively with a friend is definitely the way to go as it adds a layer of comradery to the action.
The best part of Wizard Fire is its cheesy fantasy setting. As soon as the character select screen popped up and I saw the charming cast of stereotypical playable chums, I was delighted. Then, the opening cutscene complete with muffled voice clips and stiff animations played and I thought, "Yeah, this is cool." The environments are unique enough and they're full of generic monsters that are fun to watch perish after you hack and slash away. Wizard Fire's soundtrack is epic and full of 16-bit orchestral pieces that make fending off monsters feel even more badass. Overall, it looks and sounds fantastic, especially if you're into retro fantasy games.
Even though Wizard Fire has a promising presentation, the gameplay starts to become overwhelmingly tedious shortly into the campaign. The worst aspect of fighting monsters is just how many hits they take before they go down. I own a plug-in controller that has a turbo feature and even using that was tricky as foes would still crowd around me no matter how hard I tried to fend them off in time. The boss fights take this tedium to a whole new level of frustration as they have super-powerful attacks that can wipe you out in just a few hits. On top of that, the bosses only have a couple of different attacks so fighting them gets super-boring almost immediately. Get ready to keep tapping the "insert quarter" button so you can continue every half a minute or so!
Finally, I played through Wizard Fire with the intention of completing it. It was a long and treacherous journey so you can imagine how annoyed I was when I reached a game-ending glitch. Basically, one part has you try and carefully step onto moving platforms so you can move across a gap in the road. As you do this, a dragon emerges that keeps trying to blow you into the abyss below. It was infuriating so I decided to attack that sucker to see if I could kill it. I did and felt an immediate sense of relief. However, just then, some strange code appeared in the centre of the screen and I couldn't progress past this part no matter how many times I tapped every single button on the controller. Maybe I had to blow into an attached microphone? No, that's ridiculous... right? Right.
Wizard Fire is a promising classic isometric fantasy action RPG. However, its gameplay quickly falls apart due to repetition, frustration, and even a potential game-ending glitch.
- + Simple isometric action RPG gameplay with cool spells and equipment
- + Fun retro fantasy setting
- + Multiplayer is quite enjoyable
- - Button mashing is a necessity due to enemies having way too much HP
- - Bosses are absolutely brutal
- - You may encounter a game-breaking glitch