Today I'm loading up Wizorb for an hour or so (not to be confused with Sensible Software's Wizball, which is... something different.) This one was kindly donated to me by a friend who assured me that it was very very cheap, so I've adjusted my expectations accordingly.
Yeah, this is basically Breakout it seems. Or Alleyway, Arkanoid... whatever you're more familiar with. I hit all the bricks on the screen and then get a new screen full of bricks to hit. It's actually one of the oldest of all game genres, with the first arcade machine designed in 1976 by Steve Wozniak, who was later influenced by it when he was designing the Apple II computer.
Sorry, this is going to be Super Adventures in Wikipedia from now on.
The land of Gorudo has been stricken by a nasty curse cast by demons, with only the town of Tarot escaping unhexed for whatever reason. But the demons weren't having this, so they came down and wrecked the place personally. Interestingly it seems that the monsters all suffer from OCD, as they've stacked the wreckage of each building into identical piles.
Well the townsfolk didn't actually go into any kind of detail about what the curse actually is or how I'm supposed to stop it, or even how much they're going to pay for this service, but they believe I can help them and I believe it too! After all I am a very old magician, so I must be seriously high level by now.
It's a bit of a shame really, as that water mill on the other side of the river could've definitely used the money a lot more, especially as it's the place that produces food for the whole town. Without it the poor citizens may end up having to resort to cannibalism.
Though donating the cash wasn't a total waste of money as the woman I donated my savings to did actually give me an unmarked key in return for my inadvertent kindness, and with any luck it doesn't just unlock the shattered splinters of her former front door.
Level 1-01 comes with a magic lesson cunningly embedded in the road ahead by someone either blessed with considerable foresight, or hoping to get a riot started. It reveals that by pressing A on the controller I can launch fireballs at foes and boxes to smash them apart and speed things up a little. This consumes mana like crazy, though if I'm really lucky a red mana refill flask will be released out of a block and then start drifting down the screen like we're on a hill.
There's no time limit thankfully, but the ball starts to speed up a bit as the level drags on, so I'd still like to end this stage as soon as possible. Some of the bricks take more than one hit to destroy which just slows things down even more.
Zelda looking shop inside. "It is dangerous to go alone, take a whole stack of 1ups!" he should've said. Don't mind if I do mate.
LEVEL 1-10. FIVE STAGES LATER.
Still I'm all the way up to level 1-10 now, so I shouldn't have to hold out much longer. I think I'm still in with a chance here.
MERE SECONDS LATER.
So I guess I'm replaying those ten levels again then. Yay.
TWELVE LEVELS LATER.
This guy is actually fairly straightforward though, as all he does is slowly shuffle from one side to the other and occasionally throw a whirlwind at my general direction.
I'll should see if I can go inside.
You know, there's something about this room that's really familiar to me and I don't just mean the way the furniture art has been influenced by a hundred Super Nintendo JRPGs. I have been here before, I'm sure of it.
|The Legend of Zelda - A Link to the Past (SNES)|
Incidentally there's a good comparison there between Wizorb's faux fourth gen era graphics and the real deal. I think the developers have captured the style pretty well and personally I reckon it's still an appealing look. A couple of decades of limited resolutions has given us the gift of pixel art forever, and I hope there'll always be a place for it even when nostalgia for the SNES era has faded away.
I do actually have some limited control over the orb's trajectory off the paddle, as its angle changes depending on how I hit it. It's like my bat is curved outwards slightly in the middle; so the orb will fly off more to the left if I hit it with the left side of the paddle etc. Though what it does afterwards is up to the whims of the fates (and my magic spell to blow things across with wind.)
Speaking of magic spells, I'm losing my patience here...
Hey look, the bricks form a wasp! I've only just got that now.
I hate wasps.
The trouble is that I've never tried using this magic before and now I've accidentally steered my ball underneath the unbreakable blocks I'm trying to get around. Man, I wish the fireballs travelled through walls right now.
Okay, hang on, I've though of a better plan.
AGGGHHHHHHHH!! AGHHHHH! I WANT TO REACH INTO THE SCREEN AND PUT MY FOOT INTO THAT BLOCK.
It's funny, this isn't even taking that long really, but I have to be on constant readiness to catch the ball every time it rebounds down to the bottom of the screen, so it seems like an eternity for me. It also doesn't help that I'm finding it very, very boring.
I could recharge my mana a bit and try the fairy wings thing again, or maybe try blowing it over with some magical wind, but the trick to regenerate mana... is to bounce the ball against the walls for ages. I get a tiny fraction back every ten bounces.
LEVEL 2-13: BOSS FIGHT!
I mean I kicked his ass in Terraria, I can take him here.
Alright, new plan: from now on, I do not ever put my paddle underneath his shadow when he's in the air, even when I have to. I'll just have to hope that if the ball's ever coming this way, he'll land in time to deflect it off his ass.
Whatever it is I don't actually care, as I'm turning this game off now.
Aww, look at his happy doggy face! He knows that he gets to live in comfort now while the humans suffer.
Okay, so here's my controversial opinion on Wizorb: it seems like a pretty well made, polished Breakout clone with some good ideas. I found that the music remained on the right side of bearable, they've absolutely nailed the pixel art, and it controls pretty well whether you're using mouse, keys or a controller. Plus it has a level select, the collision detection on the paddle is pretty lenient and there isn't even a time limit! Oh and it turns out that using up a continue restarts you on the same stage that you failed on and starting a world from scratch gives you a refill, so that's cool.
I found that the biggest flaw in the game for me personally is that it's a Breakout clone and I just don't find the genre that appealing. The levels can drag on to the point of tedium, especially with bricks that take multiple hits to destroy, but you can never relax as the ball soon speeds up to the point where you need constant unwavering concentration to keep it in play.
But yeah, it is how it appears. I'd probably recommend to anyone dying to play a block breaking bounce 'em up that looks like it's a lost treasure from the SNES era, but I'm not sure I'd wish it upon anyone else. Buy hey, it is very very cheap.
So those are my thoughts about Wizorb, but don't let my wall of relentless negativity leave you feeling like you're not welcome to share your own opinions on the game in the comments. In fact as a reward for making it this far down, here's a secret trick: if you go to Google Image Search and type "Atari Breakout" you'll get a free Breakout game to play.