Originally written by Christoper J. Snelgrove and Matthew Fleming, Courtesy of XSeed Games’ official website and the wonderful FAQ over at GameFaqs.Gamespot.com
Japan loves Wizardry. The Sir-Tech dungeon crawler RPGs maintain a cult following in the US, but in Japan, they are considered all-time classics.
The original Wizardry games not only received PC release, but were also ported to many popular consoles in Japan, one of which was the Sega Saturn, which received a port of Wizardry VI and VII, which oddly enough, remains Japan
With the original games ending at Wizardry 8, many developers decided to keep the trend going with dungeon crawlers of their own.
Some developers paid homage to the franchise with original works such as Sega’s Shining In The Darkness, Atlus’ (immensely popular) Etrian Odyssey franchise, and even the occasional one-shot such as Success’ The Dark Spire, which takes many cues from Wizardry, right down to making the player roll for the stats of their party. Acquire themselves have their own Wizardry-inspired franchise, though their Class of Heroes series uses cutesy anime designs to put a much cheerier spin on Wizardry; despite using eerie dungeons and classic crawl gameplay to back it all up.
Some took this a step further, and made games that went on to use the Wizardry name. Busin 0: Wizardry Alternative Neo, for example, took the core Wizardry themes into 3D, with a dark and foreboding PS2 experience known to US audiences as ‘Tale of the Forsaken Land’.
Busin did receive a sequel, which sadly also remains Japanese exclusive to this day. Since then, the Wizardry franchise largely remained dormant, on both sides of the globe. Until Acquire took up the license, bringing fantasy dungeon crawling back with a vengeance, via their aptly named ‘Wizardry Renaissance’ project.
“Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls” kicked off the movement with a PSN game that went on to receive quite a bit of support from dungeon-starved PS3 owners, and remains quite profitable, if the significant amount of DLC the game received is any indication. It also received an industry award as one of the best PSN games, in Japan anyway.
It even later received a disc release, bundled with its sequel, though the odds of that receiving a US release are looking pretty dim. So if you want you some Wizardry on the PS3, for the time being, the PSN is your best and only bet.
‘Labyrinth of Lost Souls’ isn’t a perfect dungeon crawler, nor does it live up to the stellar reputation of Busin/Tale of the Forsaken Land, but it’s still quite an engrossing experience, and it sets the stage for the far better sequel, so that’s reason enough to support Acquire and XSeed in my book.
The best way to learn where we are now is to study where we have been, and Wizardry is a series with quite a long and illustrious history. Although now living on in the hands of Japanese developers like Acquire, the original creators of this venerable franchise designed eight numbered entries before the torch was passed, and these eight games served as an inspiration to countless game designers throughout the 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s, ultimately shaping the series and the gaming landscape as a whole in countless ways. In addition, each game served almost as a mirror, reflecting
(and in many cases satirizing) the general state of fantasy sci-fi and tabletop gaming in the western world at the time of its creation.