Wizard of Wor (Arcade) is the Retro Game of the Day for 17 May, 2016

Yes, folks, we’re done with Doom and new old game collections and praising new games.  It’s time to get back to what the Retro Gaming Universe does best: featuring old games that today’s gamer kids (and probably many older gamers) never knew existed.

Today, that game is Wizard of Wor.  It’s a pretty simple game — there are a series of simple mazelike levels with creatures that you must shoot in what seems to be a blend of sci-fi and fantasy.  As you rid the maze of the easier enemies, enemies that can turn invisible (but be tracked on a radar at the bottom of the screen) show up, and you have to rid yourself of those.  As you progress, you get to fight extra enemies (the Worluk and the titular Wizard of Wor) at the end for bonuses if you manage to tag them before they escape through the side tunnels (which you can use to teleport from one side of the maze to the other a la Pac-Man).  You also can play with another player or a computer-controlled ally simultaneously to defeat the enemies.

Despite it being fairly simple, it’s a really intense and fun game, with a pulsing sound effect similar to Jaws urging you on and warning you of enemies speeding up and becoming more difficult to track down.  Meanwhile,  a voice — something rare in gaming those days — taunts you as you play.  The voice was very creepy-sounding back when I first encountered the game (come on, I was what, ten?) given that it’s a very heavily distorted and difficult to understand most of the time.

Even if you’ve never heard of this game, give it a try.  That’s one of my goals here, to bring lesser-known games from the old days to the attention of the masses.  Just make sure that if you emulate the game via MAME to download and make sure MAME can use the samples from this game to allow the game voice to work.