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SCORES EXPLAINED:

5.0 Perfect
4.5 Excellent
4.0 Very Good
3.5 Good
3.0 Fair
2.5 Weak
2.0 Poor
1.5 Bad
1.0 Terrible
0.5 Atrocious
0.0 Your Mom


Silverback Reviews


7800 Rank: Unranked

Genre: Dungeon Crawler

Awards: None
Not All Wizards Are Nice, Honey Pros: Lots of rooms, lots of fights, lots of power ups and spells
Cons: RNG dungeons can make treasure hunting tedious
Some Try to Fry Your Face With Lightning and Turn Your Balls into Newts.
Overview: Initially, I wasn't too keen on Wizard's Dungeon. It was released with a few other homebrew titles earlier this year (2022) at AtariAge and it was the one I knew the least about, and therefore, I was the least excited to play. But having just finished it for the 2nd time, I can say that it may be the title with the most staying power from that batch of homebrews.
That's to say, when I finish writing this review, I just may pick it back up and try to improve my score, kill more monsters, and find more treasure in another play through. The 7800 is known for it's quick arcade style games, and if that's what your expecting with Wizard's Dungeon, you're not gonna have a good time. But if you've been waiting for games that take some time to finish on the Prosystem, and you enjoy the ride rather than reaching the destination, then you may want to pick this one up. Wizard's Dungeon is a beatable game that looks like Dark Chambers and Gauntlet in design, but plays much more like Adventure, Dragon's Descent, or E.X.O. in function.

Graphics: While it is reminiscent of Dark Chambers or Gauntlet, it eschews the endless waves of baddies in giant rooms for just handfuls of enemies in many smaller rooms. Initially, you require a lot of fire power to overcome the heels in this one. You'll find yourself battling bats, spiders, mummies, demons, knights, snakes, tentacles and more until you find the staircase to the next level. You have access to a simple grid map by hitting the left and right buttons together, and if you find the map on the level you'll be able to identify graveyards and the exit for each floor. The sprites are simple but well animated and you can tell what they are supposed to be. I do wish there was some more variety in color, as each floor's structures are one solid color over a black background. But what's here is done well, even if it's not particularly impressive.

Sound: The sound is very sparse, but that could be to the game's benefit. We've all heard how the TIA sound can make a good game worse, and very few are able to get a lot of quality out of the ancient chip. You get a loud painful sound when you're taking damage- which really adds to the game's urgency. You get little tones when picking up treasure and nice long tones when you pick up a weapon upgrade or map, which gives somewhat good feedback in what the item does. In general, the longer the sound upon picking something up, the more important it is. So while the audio is sparse, what's here is used to good affect. There are some ambient haunting noises that I think add to the atmosphere.

Gameplay: You can face off against your opponents with 4 different spells, which are three different projectiles and a melee attack. You start the game off with a level one magic bolt, but eventually you can acquire psychic wave, fireballs, and devastating lightning that acts as the games only "melee" attack. Once you unlock a spell you can level it up 3 times to make each one more unique and powerful. For instance, once you level up the wave attack enough, it bounces off the walls, making enemies pursuing your in tight corridors easier to hit without turning to face them. You'll travel across a ton of rooms (and I mean TONS OF ROOMS) in search of treasure, new spells, graveyards for resurrecting, a plethora of artifacts that act as confusing power ups and ultimately the stairs to the next floor down. It can be a lot of fun when you find the map or stumble across items and stairs quickly, but it can also drag when you run into room after room of the same enemies. The dungeons are all randomly generated, creating a unique experience every time you play, but sometimes the rooms form meaningless, time consuming red herrings that require you to back track. My suggestion is to stick with it, if you get some annoying RNG- step away for a while and come back for another go. Trust me, when this game is good, it's really good.

Originality: While I don't think the concept for Wizards Dungeon is overall, mind-blowingly original (Wizard's of Wor, anyone?), there are some fresh ideas here. The RNG dungeons, tons of power ups, four different attacks, and the graveyard ressurection bits, just to name a few. The 7800 needs adventure games, and this provides a solid adventure through a Wizards tower that can keep players and high score seekers entertained for a while. And I talked about it with Funkmaster V, we both agree that the final boss fight is the best part of the game.

Value: This one has some staying power: an adventure game with a high score table and three difficulty levels. I feel that I've experienced most of what this year's early homebrew titles have to offer, and Wizard's Dungeon is one of the few that I can come back to and have a fun and varied experience with. But as I also said before, if you get turned around and don't find the interesting items or the exit to the floor, you may have a boring time of it. This title can feel like a grind at times. Just have patience and give it a chance, I know I'm glad that I did.

Overall: I'm glad I didn't post my initial review of Wizard's Dungeon, because it doesn't reflect how I feel about the game today. It is a very solid game that provides good value for the money. Anyone into Gauntlet, Dark Chambers, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons or Diablo will probably love it more than someone who loves games like Tempest or Crystal Castles. And, its not one of those homebrews that you show off when your convincing your friends that the 7800 is just as powerful as the NES or Master System, but it is one that I pull down when I have an hour or two to enjoy a game alone and have a nice drink with. Give it a shot. I'm having a shot! Let's all have shots!




This review was graciously provided by Silverback

Additional Info:
I would like to take this time to thank AtariAge for allowing the use of these screenshots for this review.