Close to the edge

The original Wizardry turned many heads upon its original release in 1981 on the Apple II. It was a winning combination of Dungeons & Dragons-style gameplay with graphics unlike anything seen before. The series went to find success both in the west and Japan, where it was licensed to ASCii Soft. It gained such a level of devotion in the Far East that it remained relevant many years after its popularity waned in North America and Europe. The original games in the series were ported to virtually every micro computer system in the west while in Japan many were converted to Famicom, Game Boy and even Super Famicom.

If you happen to be a fan of the series, here's some rather special news: Wizardry Gaiden IV: Taima no Kodou ("Throb of the Demon's Heart" - oo-er!) has now been fully translated to English. This is a project which took AgentOrange, D.D.S., Helly and MrRichard999 about three years to complete, and thanks to their combined efforts you are now able to fully understand the joys of dungeon crawling with your party while fully understanding exactly what the spell you are about to conjure actually does.

A word of caution to series vets and newcomers alike: Don't let that "IV" fool you. This is not the fourth game in the series (that was released in 1987 as Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna). As the "Gaiden" name suggests, the is a side story which is exclusive to Japan and as such you will probably not be surprised to find the medieval fantasy of the original games replaced with feudal-era Japan.

Even more alluring for long time fans of the series is the fact that the game uses the basic rules from the first three outings, which were also released in a single cartridge for the Super Famicom in 1999 (and fully translated to English by Aeon Genesis in 2000) - but it features character races and classes from VI, VII and VIII.

If you're a fan of the series and own a RetroN 5 or Retro Freak then this game is now worthy of consideration. We know these dungeon crawlers are not everyone's cup of tea, but it's worth keeping in mind that the series was a major influence on the first wave of JRPGs, including both Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest on the Famicom.

How about you, Nintendo Life readers? Any "Wizardry" memories to share? We admit to having spent way too many batteries with ASCii Gaiden titles on the Game Boy...