Monday 13 November 2023

Witch n' Wiz Review (NES)

For some the retro style simply isn’t enough and this has led to a resurgence in games coded for original systems. We’ve covered some of these before such as Micro Mages and Alwa’s Awakening, both of which proved to be excellent. They also both ended up heading to the Evercade system as well, something Witch and Wiz is also about to do.

The story is simple, a young boy has been kidnapped by a dark sorcerer and now his witch friend must try and rescue him. Once rescued, the boy wizard becomes part of the many dynamics the game plays around with. Your character handles really well and everything is responsive and free from the flicker and other such quirks of NES games so it may have been designed with 8-bit in mind, but it runs as well as modern ‘retro’ inspired games running on more powerful systems.

Witch and Wiz is a puzzle platform game that is built around single screen levels. Players complete each stage by collecting all the creatures that are within it. This is of course, trickier than it sounds as you can’t jump and need to get around by pushing blocks. It’s easy to lock yourself out of being able to complete the levels but you can reset or rewind your moves which makes it possible to quickly get back on track.

As well as the rewind a new gimmick is added in each new chapter. This could be something such as flipping gravity or adding a second character to control but it means each of worlds stays fresh and original while still focusing on the same core theme. It’s not the longest game either and will likely last you around an hour to complete. But then NES games never have been that lengthy and we would rather have a short, fun, and inventive game than one that outstays its welcome.

The main encouragement for replaying is beating the levels in the quickest time possible. The game keeps track of your best time as you progress so it’s certainly one for the speed runners out there. That said, the nature of the genre does restrict replayability a bit. Each puzzle only really seems to have one solution so once you’ve worked it out there isn’t that much else to do aside from enjoy the simple story.

Overall, Witch and Wiz is another excellent indie game developed for retro hardware. Often in these situations the limitations of the hardware mean developers must get creative and this is yet another example of it. It’s certainly easier than a lot of NES games and aside from speed runners there will be little for many to go back in for, but while it lasts it’s creative, fun and always throwing something new at you. It’ll certainly be perfect for handheld consoles such as the Evercade and Switch and well worth checking out.

Overall 8/10

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