Wizards & Warriors X: The Fortress of Fear is a handheld version of the popular Wizards & Warriors games on the NES. It was developed by Rare and published by Acclaim Entertainment, exclusively for the original Game Boy, in 1990.
In it you once again control the agile knight, Kuros, on a mission to destroy his enemy, the evil wizard Malkil. The game follows the same formula as the majority of the other Wizards & Warriors games and is a scrolling platform game with action elements, with Kuros jumping and stabbing his way through five chapters – comprising of 18 levels in total – of monsters, traps and bosses.
Kuros has two different types of attack with his sword: a fast jab, and a slower longer-range swipe. And, like other games in the W&W series, Kuros is not a particularly effective fighter so it’s often better to duck and dodge his way past certain enemies. Kuros’s health is indicated by a heart meter at the top of the screen. When this is empty he loses one of his three available lives. The number of keys he’s carrying is also shown, as is the total number of gems collected.
Kuros’s abilities can be enhanced by collecting various pieces of equipment as he progresses. The “Boots of Jumping” increase his jumping distance, and the “Shield of Protection” reduces the amount of damage he takes.
Wizards & Warriors X is a fairly linear game, although it does give you the option of choosing different exits in some areas, which allows you to take different branching paths each time you play.
Reviewers at the time of release complained that the scrolling was blurry on the OG Game Boy screen, but that doesn’t seem to manifest itself in an emulator (at least in the emulator I used). The level of difficulty was also criticised, as was the title of the game (the ‘X’ in the title indicating that it could be part ten in the series, which it of course wasn’t).
Overall, The Fortress of Fear is not a bad game, but it’s neither better than any of the NES games in the series, nor is it a particularly outstanding game in its own right. It’s just a competent platformer with sections that are difficult to the point of frustration.
See also: Wizards & Warriors, Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II, and Wizards & Warriors III: Kuros: Visions of Power.
More: Wizards & Warriors X: The Fortress of Fear on Wikipedia