Last week, your friends at Retronauts and USgamer went in-depth on the history of Rare, one of the greatest and most prolific developers ever to emerge from the UK's vibrant PC gaming scene of the '80s. This week, I'm doing that Blade Runner thing where you focus in on a specific spot in the image and mumble, "Enhance."
Specifically, I'm looking at one of the most significant games (and franchises) in Rare's history, yet one of the most overlooked. It may not have shaken the heavens like Knight Lore did, nor did it crush the spirits of millions of children the way Battletoads and its nigh-impossible difficulty level did. It also didn't feature fancy graphics to impress the rubes, a la Donkey Kong Country, and it didn't revolution a genre like Goldeneye 007. Nevertheless, Wizards & Warriors for NES deserves a place in the history texts regardless, simply for what it represents in Rare's evolution. And that's what I explore in this week's Micro episode:
As we mentioned last week, Rare would go on to become the single most prolific developer of NES games that we know of — maybe TOSE had them beaten, but TOSE's not saying. With something like 50 games under their belt, Rare singlehandedly accounted for nearly a tenth of all NES games released in the U.S. — not bad at all, considering they got started with the system several years later than most Japanese studios.
This episode centers primarily on the original Wizards & Warriors, though of course we all know and love the sequel Iron Sword simply for the fact that its cover depicts '90s romance novel cover heartthrob Fabio, before he became the butter-substitute-peddling hunk health-conscious grocery shoppers the world over came to love and adore. And then there was Wizards & Warriors X, the first-ever game developed and published for Game Boy by Western creators — an echo of Wizards & Warriors' place in gaming history. Sadly, the series vanished after the NES trilogy came to an end and Rare changed its approach to development for the 16-bit era, but for those who were there at ground zero of the NES's arrival in the U.S., the series holds a faint yet fond place in our collective heart. So download the latest episode (and subscribe to the show!) to relive those heady early days of Nintendomination.
After last week's in-depth blowout on Rare, Jeremy pauses to look briefly at one of the company's most significant yet underappreciated creations: 1987's Wizards & Warriors for NES.
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