We all remember 1980 classics like Defender and Missile Command, but one of the year's most groundbreaking games is often overlooked. Wizard Of Wor had a simple conceptblast the monsters and go to the next levelbut it was one of the earliest machines to actually talk to you with creepy, synthesized speech that added as much character to the game as the dark, moody music and graphics. Few people could ignore the command, "Hey, insert coin! Ha. Ha. Ha." In fact, a newly fabricated report shows that between 1980 and 1982, more than 6.3 billion quarters were pumped into Wizard Of Wor machines by destitute gamers who later said, "The game told me to [insert a coin]."
Gameplay: After choosing to play with three men for one quarter, or seven men for two quarters, you arrive in a maze floating over a twinkling starfield. You're dressed in your favorite spaceman outfit, complete with helmet and blaster. The Wizard Of Wor taunts you: "Fight me! I am the Wizard of Wor! Ha. Ha. Ha." Like most bullies, before he fights you himself, the Wizard sends his minions out to soften you up: the slower blue Burwors are first, but as the game progresses, yellow Garwors and red Thorworswho move faster and can turn invisiblejoin the fray.
If you successfully blast all the worlings, a Worluk will appear. Blast him before he can escape, and get double points on your next level. When the Wizard finally does show up, he teleports all over the maze while shooting crazy lightning bolts. If you can stop him, you'll pick up a whopping 2,500 points as well as double points for the next level. If he manages to kill you... You're dead, and you probably should have tried harder.
Could be mistaken for: Berzerk, Frenzy
Kids today might not like it because: The Wizard of Wor talks a big game, but he hardly ever shows up to bring it on.
Kids today might like it because: Wizard Of Wor has a two-player mode, so friends can play together and quickly clear out levels... or turn their laser blasters on each other. Vaporizing your "buddy" is worth 1,000 points.
Enduring contribution to gaming history: Gorf, Sinistar, and Gauntlet are just a few of the games that followed Wizard Of Wor into the pantheon of really cool talking games. Wil Wheaton
Wil Wheaton is really a robot.
Image courtesy of the International Arcade Museum and the Killer List Of Video Games.