The NES is one of the most iconic gaming systems of all time, but it hasn't been on Nintendo's radar - at least from a hardware perspective - for quite some time. That hasn't stopped homebrew developers from continuing to support the vintage console, and as a result 2015 will see the release of The Mad Wizard: A Candelabra Chronicle, a brand-new NES game that looks, sounds and plays like it just stepped out of a DeLorean from 1985.
The work of Sly Dog Studios - comprised of lifelong friends Rob Bryant and Shawn Christopher - The Mad Wizard is a platforming adventure which replaces jumping with levitation.
Speaking to 4 Color Rebellion, Bryant explained the game's setting and core gameplay:
The Mad Wizard is the first in a series of games that take place in the setting of a fantasy world, which will eventually tell the story of what the "Candelabra" is and of the people working to uncover it and what it is capable of. This particular game centers on a wizard named Hekl. He was part of an order of wizards called The Order of the Talon, but he was expelled for reasons not divulged to him specifically. One of the members of this order, Amondus, set forth to take over his homeland and destroy Hekl himself.
The actual game begins with Hekl stripped of his magical abilities, so he must regain all of them to be able to make his way to a Floating Palace that Amondus brought into the area. It is a platformer-style adventure, but instead of having a jump mechanic for the player, they are given a levitation technique to use to get over obstacles. This gets powered up by finding various scrolls, and they will increase either how high or how far your levitation can take you. There are also weapon upgrades and magical spells. The spells add a puzzle element by giving you extra ways to get around the game with a block, a bridge, and teleportation which zooms you across the screen. The puzzle element is there, but it is very slight, as we didn't want it to be too much of a distraction to the overall playability of the game.
Bryant also gives a little detail on why he and his friend are still making games for what is essentially a "dead" system:
Well, I think for both Shawn and I, we have an enormous love for the library that the NES presented during its life span. Since we were too young to be able to actually make games for it, I think this is our way of helping add to the great amount of software that is already available for the system. We have been life-long friends, and when we were little we used to talk about different ways to improve games, or discuss aspects that we would like to see in them. So what we try to do is come up with unique gameplay situations to present to the player that they might have never experienced before, or a twist on a prior experience. For instance, the levitation instead of the jumping mechanic.
The Mad Wizard is available now for $40, but you won't get a box or manual for that price, as Bryant insists that packaging is a "distraction" to homebrew developers. The other catch is that the game won't work on the RetroN 5, but it should function just fine on clone NES systems.
Are you tempted to see what a 2015 NES game plays like? Let us know if you've ordered this title by posting a comment below.