Those of you who’ve been around for a bit, or have gone back to my earlier reviews will know that Wizard of Wor was the first review I ever wrote. In all the time since I wrote that review my opinions of the game have not changed, it’s still a fantastic game. But that was with the 2600 version, I’ve recently acquired the 5200 version and I wonder how it holds up to its predecessor. I also wonder how the controller will affect the gameplay, but we’ll get to that when it comes.
The graphics are alright though everything seems really basic. Enemies are now sporting multiple colors, though only for their eyes and tails, and are very much lacking in any animation apart from their legs moving. It is much the same for the player controlled character, he’s all yellow apart from his arm which is red, and only his legs have any animation. The mazes themselves feel very off, and after playing the 2600 version I’ve figured out why. They’re tiny, the mazes, although the main focus of the game, are tiny compared to the 2600 version or any other version for that matter, even the Astrocade version had a larger maze. Due to the shrunk down maze size everything had to be made smaller to accommodate it leading to how basic everything looks, heck this looks more basic than an Intellivision game, apart from the multicolored sprites I’m sure the Intellivision could do as good a job if not better.
The sounds oddly enough don’t sound as good as the chunky bass heavy 2600, and while the sounds are no doubt more complex they don’t seem to fit the game as well and overall feel very staticky. In what I feel is a bit of a missed opportunity there are no voice samples in the game, I know they would take up quite a bit of storage but I get the feeling it was entirely possible especially when taking Berzerk into consideration, it had them, not many but it still had some.
I’ve been dreading this, how does the 5200 controller affect the gameplay? Well it renders the game virtually unplayable, in my opinion, especially when coupled with the tweaked enemy behavior. The movement is slow and imprecise and the joystick has too much travel and too large a deadzone for accurate and fine movement. It feels like I’m pushing the stick through molasses, and the slow movement makes me feel like the in game character is wading through it as well. The enemies behave extremely erratically, whenever they reach an intersection there is a very good chance that they will just turn around and juggle themselves in small pockets of the maze. The enemies in the arcade also did this but it had either microswitched or standard contact point joysticks which allowed for quick and responsive control. The enemy behavior is not conducive to this joystick, if they had behaved like in the 2600 version, never turning around and simply steamrolling ahead, it would be far more playable.
The contents of the game appear to be complete, you have all the standard mazes and enemies, and if it wasn’t for the controllers this might be the penultimate Wizard of Wor experience, second only to the arcade, or perhaps the C64 version, but I haven’t tried that one out yet. Unfortunately the controller really kills this one and the Trak-Ball doesn’t work so this might actually wind up being the worst home port of this classic arcade game. Unfortunately copies of this game are relatively scarce, with most coming to around 15-20 dollars loose, and I don’t even know what they’d go for boxed, if its anything near the 2600 boxed price then it really isn’t worth it. Wizard of Wor on the 5200 goes to the Collector’s Zone, just play the 2600 version, or wait for Wizard of Wor Arcade from Champ Games, also for the 2600, basically anything but this one.