Wizards and Warriors

Review Date: March 18, 2021

Release Date: December 1, 1987

Platform: NES

Developer: Rare

Genre: Linear Platformer

Anecdotes: The winter of 1988 was just miserable for me. The creepiest classroom I had to ever experience was then. The pipes were loose on the heaters, the teacher liked the lights dim and the shade down, and worst of all, there was a hole in the wall that would make drilling noises whenever the wind hit it just right. I needed an outlet from that, so going home to play some Wizards and Warriors helped me forget about that. Unfortunately, Wizards and Warriors, particularly the third stage, was just as creepy. There was some scary stuff in here.

Description: Kuros is a knight that has to traverse 8 levels and rescue 8 princesses who are guarded by each of the game’s seven bosses. Gameplay involves finding keys, gems, and items. Keys are used to open doors and chests of the matching color, which can lead to new rooms and powerups. Gems are used to bribe the guardian at the door leading to the boss. Items are used to add abilities, some of which will be required. The goal is to defeat Malkil at the end.


Has anyone ever noticed Malkil’s room is shaped like a skull? Rare did a nice job of building atmosphere. The caves generally convey the creepy feeling they’re supposed to. The forests look good. Kuros has a few animations that are used when striking.

I got here and I was thinking “let me in! I’m only one gem short!,” but then I realized I didn’t have the pink key yet, so it’s a moot point.

The music is hit or miss, but I really like the tracks used in the forests, the purple cave, and climbing the castle. I like how Rare decided to use the princess rescue theme as a theme for stage 6.


Perhaps, after playing so many games, there are oddities that only I would notice, so here’s one. Why is Kuros able to stay so high up the screen? In some places, Kuros is near the top of the screen and it’s impossible to see what’s up there. This is especially annoying in stage 6, which involves climbing the outside of a tower and looking for blocks to stand on. On top of that, the game likes to be stingy with the gems in the late levels as well. Stage 6 is just where that starts.

Players can see the block this time, but what if it’s spread out like the block below? Kuros is too high on the screen.

However, the biggest flaw of this game is that Rare chose not to go with a low life beep or chime of any kind. Instead, they change the background music to an annoying, repetitive tune, and it will be heard A LOT. The best thing to do is let Kuros die because…

Now can I hear the awesome forest music again?

…There is NO penalty for death outside of boss rooms, other than a meaningless loss of points. Kuros keeps his gems, his items, his keys, and his location. There are also infinite continues. Death inside boss rooms means the boss’s health is refilled. Because of this, there is no reason to ever pay attention to the health bar outside of a boss room, unless it’s to avoid the low life music.

More Screenshots:

Kuros goes for a ride in stage 1, falling down the inside of a tree.
This skull goes down rather easily. There’s a later boss that’s a growing skeleton.
Oh, yeah, there’s the “Gem Jumps,” too, and Rare naturally put them in the most annoying spots. The tree climb in stage 5 has at least 3 of these used as traps.
Go Kuros! I’m not sure if it’s required, but it certainly makes things easier.
The second boss is a series of bats. Take a death if Kuros doesn’t have full health. Otherwise, run past them all, then face them and levitate in the spot shown. Once they’re gone, move left a bit, then levitate and hold it until the bats all go down.
Ride these bubbles up to the red key. I already did it, though, so I can jump off.
It the Cloak of Darkness really as bad as people say it is? Well, yes, it is, but…
…Kuros doesn’t have to keep it. If he picks up the Cloak in the chest on the right, he can just run left from here to change it to the Wand of Wonder.
And here is why I have “ghosts” on the tagged list. Where did Kuros go, though?
Personally, I’m not a fan of the idea, but a glitch moves Kuros a slight bit to the left when he levitates. Do that enough in this spot, and Kuros will magically appear back in stage 1.
Kuros gets a Penny for his efforts.
Level 7. All castle levels are palette swaps of this.
Stage 7 has a boss skeleton with four forms, each a larger version of the previous. It’s actually the toughest fight in the game. It took me about 20 tries.
That’s Malkil. I stand where that axe is and hit him hard when he appears in that spot. Otherwise, just I fend off his attacks.
I know they use old English for atmosphere, but I really wish they just used modern English.

Grade: B

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