So recently after the massive PSN hacking I decided to peruse the Sony store to see what was new beyond all of the free ish they were giving me for not running off to XBox 360 (I kid, I kid). What struck me and made me do a double-take was a Japanese port of Wizardry: Torawareshi Tamashi no Meikyu now called Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls by XSEED. Having been the BIGGEST fan of this game series since the original (I met the creator himself in EB back in the 90′s – nerd out!) I dropped $15 on it lightning fast and dove right in to examine it’s gooey insides.
Only Adventurers with Imaginations Need Apply!
From the title screen and the random Japanese male or female voice saying the title, you are taken to an image of 10 anime-styled heroes to choose from but you can change their name and class once you get within the game. Like the Wizardry’s of the past, your attributes come at a base value for the race you choose then you are given a random number from about 6-50 to add to each one to create your adventurer. Of course I am a vet so I applied the back out and come back in method until I rolled a sweet 47 on my neutrally aligned warrior, cranked up his strength and other attributes until the elite class of “Samurai” was attainable due to matching it’s pre-requisites. See historically Samurai, Ninja and Lords in Wizardry would get a neat little “decapitate” command that came about randomly. Having decapitated Werdna (the final wizard boss in Wizardry) on a playthrough of the original game, you can understand my love for this lottery attack. Next I did the same dirty trick to add a Ninja, another Samurai (female with a cool eye-patch), a bishop, fighter and mage in order to have a full party ready for adventure.
I will warn you young folks that are new to the Wizardry series that this game is 100% table-top in it’s look and feel. Wizardry forces you to use your imagination very much like sitting down to a game of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons would, if you need moving things on the screen DO NOT TRY THIS. This means that your attacks are read ie: “Rafacus slices the Greater Demon with his katana… the attack hits 4 times for 2,000 damage… The Greater Demon is sleepy… The Greater Demon is dead”, the town is a picture, some sweet music and more text. Quest-givers, people you communicate with town and enemies are all cut-out images. When you navigate the dungeon it’s dark and it moves a block at a time… there is no nifty overhead map in the corner of the screen, you have to rely on a spell or some grid paper and a pen to pinpoint where you are. You can fall in pits, be teleported, lose your entire party or worse yet get absolutely lost. I will say that compared to the original game, Wizardry: LoLS does make it easy as mages get a teleport spell that can transport you to any place that you’ve been to before, and they get an instant exit spell – both were int he original game but you get them very quickly in this one. all this to say – buyer beware, this isn’t hold-your-hand and guide you final Fantasy, this is Wizardry!
I loved the hand-drawn, high-definition, 2D sprites and the art on the weapons and armor. While the main characters suffer from a lack of diversity (a common plague in the Fantasy genre) I didn’t feel too bad having a ginger white dude with spiky hair be my avatar throughout the adventure. I really wish that some time was spent on animating the spell effects however, but being that this is a game of the imagination I do realize that having spell effects is a bonus versus them not being shown at all. I did miss the ridiculous difficulty of the original game: aging from too much sleep in the inns, teleporting into solid stone and losing a character you took months to build, and forming rescue corps to drag back party members that die in the deep dungeons… hoping that the temple can resurrect them whole. Since Wizardry: LoLS allows you to pick and choose when to save as opposed to instant saving on every move, I can see people raping that reset switch and killing the difficulty that makes this series great.
If you love table-top quests, or are old as dirt like me, you may want to pickup Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls. It’s sad to say the least that Japan adapted well with this series beyond the United States and although the series started here in 1981, it is now a Japanese mainstay. I do hope that enough people snatch this up to show XSEED that some of us Americans can get down with a little Wizardry and force them to release more stateside.