Japanese video game giant Nintendo emerged as a global leader in the video game industry when it unveiled the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to the Japanese market on July 15, 1983. It was an instant-hit when it was officially introduced to the United States market two years later and went on to become the best-selling gaming console of its time. Thirty years and five video game generations later, and the NES is arguably the greatest gaming system ever made – and still influences video game design and culture today.
On Dec. 10, 1994, Nintendo released the final official game for its Entertainment System, a puzzle game called Wario’s Woods. After a nine-year run, the groundbreaking 8-bit game console had to pass the torch, and gamers would move on to enjoy the Super NES. Yet even though Nintendo stopped production of software for the NES, the aftermarket library keeps growing, with countless new titles hitting the system year after year. Many diehard game designers who’ve studied the nuts and bolts of the Ricoh 6502 processor, have put their practice to creating games that appear to have been released in the mid 80’s to early ’90s on the NES. Some even go the extra mile and produce cartridges, boxes and manuals and sell their creations online. The latest of these games is titled The Mad Wizard: A Candelabra Chronicle – a platforming adventure that blends puzzle action and replaces jumping with levitation. It’s the work of lifelong friends Rob Bryant and Shawn Christopher – homebrew developers for Sly Dog Studios.
Speaking to 4 Color Rebellion, Bryant gave some insight on the making of the game:
The Mad Wizard is the first in a series of games that take place in the setting of a fantasy world, which will eventually tell the story of what the “Candelabra” is and of the people working to uncover it and what it is capable of. This particular game centers on a wizard named Hekl. He was part of an order of wizards called The Order of the Talon, but he was expelled for reasons not divulged to him specifically. One of the members of this order, Amondus, set forth to take over his homeland and destroy Hekl himself.
The actual game begins with Hekl stripped of his magical abilities, so he must regain all of them to be able to make his way to a Floating Palace that Amondus brought into the area. It is a platformer-style adventure, but instead of having a jump mechanic for the player, they are given a levitation technique to use to get over obstacles. This gets powered up by finding various scrolls, and they will increase either how high or how far your levitation can take you. There are also weapon upgrades and magical spells. The spells add a puzzle element by giving you extra ways to get around the game with a block, a bridge, and teleportation which zooms you across the screen. The puzzle element is there, but it is very slight, as we didn’t want it to be too much of a distraction to the overall playability of the game.
The Mad Wizard is available now for $40 with a brand new dust sleeve and works on authentic Nintendo Systems including NTSC, PAL A, PAL B, and Asian systems. The game won’t work on the RetroN 5, but it should function just fine on clone systems like the NEX, Yobo, or FC Twin.
With 128 individual screens of action, and puzzle solving, Mad Wizard- A Candelabra Chronicle should appeal to every retrogamer, especially those of us who love the NES.