Wizard (Commodore 64) is the Retro Game of the Day for 29 June, 2016

Like many kids back in the late 70s and early 80s, my first big console was the Atari 2600.  But of course, the 2600 was very limited in what it could do and what games it could play, and by 1983, it had shot itself in the foot with terrible games.  Fortunately, home computing was affordable enough to start me down that path, first with a Commodore VIC-20, then the wonderful Commodore 64, which I became absolutely obsessed with, not only playing games, but creating little programs and other diversions with that little 8-bit wonder.  I spent tons of time with games like the Ultima series, but I seem to remember a huge chunk of my time playing a simple yet addictive little platformer game that was an offshoot of the more well-known Jumpman games: Wizard. 

Technically I had its improved and expanded version, known as Ultimate Wizard, but the game was the same: navigate a wizard through a series of levels full of platforms, ladders, ropes, traps, monsters, and other obstacles for a very simple goal: get the key on each level and bring it to a lock.  The simplicity of the goal was in sharp contrast to the well-designed and challenging levels that made the seeming simplicity a lot harder as you have to position yourself exactly right to jump from place to place, avoid baddies that scurry around the level, and even navigating through disappearing and appearing level elements.  Most levels give you a limited number of a single spell specifically for that level after you get the key that can give you an advantage, but generally, your skill alone will determine your success or failure.  Moreover, the game includes a level editor that allows you to build your own devious levels.

It’s an insanely fun little game that I spent way too much time with instead of doing the things I was supposed to do at that age, unimportant things like homework, chores, and other things that obviously was less important than playing a videogame (heh).  Give it a try.  The vice Commodore emulator for the C64 seems to play it perfectly.