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Review: Wizardous: An Apprentice's Betrayal – Deliciously Retro

When I first saw the Wizardous: An Apprentice’s Betrayal teaser trailer I instantly felt a wave of nostalgia sweep over me. The game reminds me of the first Mario, playing on my Nintendo when I was still just a young apprentice to the world of gaming.

The game, in its early release state, is available from the Playstore here for the low price of only R10, a special which runs until the game’s release on 14 November 2013. Keep in mind that if you buy it now, you will get the full game on release that will cost R30. It requires Android OS 2.3 and up as well as a relatively small download of only 13mb. During my time with the game I used my Samsung Galaxy S2 to play as I ventured into the world of Wizardous with my trusty robe and wizard’s hat…

The story – Wizardly Betrayal

You play as an old wizard who has been guarding an ancient source of power called “The Eternal Fire” for centuries. This wizard decided to train an apprentice, someone who can carry on his work when he eventually perishes.

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In one moment of weakness, his apprentice betrays him and casts him down into his own dungeon from which he must escape while desperately trying to remember where he placed all the many, many traps.

The story revolves around wizards, magic and good old fashion betrayal, progressing through cut scenes that do extremely well to tell the player exactly what is going on and it gave me a sense of urgency, a willingness to fight hard to complete the game. In the promotional version which I reviewed, the only cut scene I saw was the one at the start of the game but the full version being released in two weeks promises to add more cut scenes and a thrilling conclusion to the story.

Graphics and sound – Glorious 8-Bit

The graphics are 8-Bit and really gives the game an excellent retro look. The game offers vibrant colors which complement each other to deliver a perfect 8-Bit experience. Animations are limited and simplistic; however, when I saw small speckles of dust coming from my wizard’s feet which I did not notice in the first 3 hours of gameplay, the game brought me back to a simpler time where a small pixilated blip on the screen would be a highlight, which just proved to me that there is beauty in simplicity.

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Wizardous: An Apprentice’s Betrayal does not boast some elaborate sound track composed by a famous musician or voice acting done by high paid actors. What it does have is some great, very retro background music and basic sound effects. This compliments the 8-Bit graphics perfectly as I could still hear the music in my head while writing this review. Another sound that stuck with me was the cartoonish death sound, that everyone will hear a lot, as the game is truly difficult.

Gameplay and Difficulty – Magically Difficult

Wizardous is a side scrolling, puzzle solving action game in which the gameplay involves jumping around avoiding traps and lethal enemies. The controls are embedded into the touch screen and allow you to move left, right, jump and later on use powers. The goal is to collect all the orbs on a level. When you have collected all the orbs, a key appears on the level which you need to collect in order to go through the door to the next level.

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This might sound easy, but I assure you the game is brutally difficult. Everything kills you with one blow, so touching one trap or enemy means instant death. Orbs, which also serve as check points, are situated further and further away making it increasingly difficult to get to the next check point without dying. When you die, you respawn at the last check point you have reached and there is no limit on the amount of times you can die. Even so I spent around 45 minutes on level 10 out of the 30 available trying to get to the last few orbs and failing horribly.

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Make no mistake; you will die countless times during this game. The game becomes frustratingly difficult very quickly and it almost feels as if it should be played with an old Nintendo controller instead of a touch screen as sometimes the movement feels unresponsive, causing me countless unnecessary deaths.

Closing thoughts

Wizardous: An Apprentice’s Betrayal will never win any awards for graphics or sound, however, it does deliver exactly what it sets out too; An 8-Bit retro gaming experience where the graphics, sounds and exceptional difficulty combine to form an old school gaming experience exactly how it should be.

For the casual gamer who gets easily frustrated or a younger audience, this game might just be too difficult to complete and some might become infuriated by the somewhat unresponsive controls. Wizardous: An Apprentice’s Betrayal was still unfinished in its promotional early release state when I played it and I am hoping that the game developer, which has brought back so many childhood memories for me, will fix some control issues in this otherwise brilliant retro gaming experience.

Score: 8/10                            

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