The third game in the Wizards & Warriors series was released for the NES in North America in 1992 and in Europe in 1993. It was once again developed by Zippo Games for Rare, although the game did encounter a few issues during development*, and was published by Acclaim Entertainment.
Wizards & Warriors III is still a side-scrolling platform game but is different to the previous two games, with more open-ended gameplay. You’re still playing as the knight, Kuros, who is again battling his arch enemy, the evil wizard Malkil.
In this game Malkil has dethroned Good King James and has taken control of the town of Piedup. Kuros arrives in Piedup and must join various guilds to acquire a set of disguises that will allow him to explore the town without being detected; free King James, and eventually confront and defeat the evil wizard.
To join a guild Kuros must first find some statues and return them to the appropriate guild master. He will then have to pass a test – usually a forced scrolling course full of traps, and with a boss battle at the end. Complete the course and beat the boss and you’re then allowed to join the guild, and are given a disguise. These disguises give Kuros new abilities that enable him to get to places he couldn’t previously reach, and they also – for the most part – stop the locals from attacking you, if worn in the right areas.
Shops play an important role in the game. Inside each is a shopkeeper who will sell you food and drink to top up Kuros’s health; keys to open doors, and gossip that might reveal something interesting. Prices vary between shops, though, so it’s always a good idea to shop around for the best prices.
In this game there is much less reliance on combat than previously – which I like because, let’s face it: Kuros is a terrible fighter, and I also didn’t much like the way enemies constantly swarmed you in previous games. Wizards & Warriors III is not as difficult or as frustrating as the previous Wizards & Warriors games and it has a jolly atmosphere with characterful graphics. The game doesn’t have passwords or continues like parts one and two did, which is a little disappointing. If you’re playing in an emulator, though, that shouldn’t be problem.
Wizards & Warriors III: Kuros: Visions of Power is a large and challenging game that is fun to play, in spite of the fact that it does divide players. It once again pays homage to Ultimate‘s 1983 classic, Atic Atac, which is cool, and some of the sprites – and the character intro scenes – also reminded me of the classic Skool Daze.
*= During development of Wizards & Warriors III Zippo Games was bought out by Rare who rebranded the company as ‘Rare Manchester‘. This unfortunately caused some discontent among employees, many of whom left the company before the game was finished, resulting in the company shutting down. As a result: the release of Wizards & Warriors III was delayed and some elements of the game were revised by Rare. Reviews of the final game were mixed and Visions of Power quickly faded into obscurity. Which is a pity because it’s not a bad game overall, and with a bit more polish could have been a classic.
See also: Wizards & Warriors and Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II
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