The Mad Wizard is a homebrew game released in 2015 for the Nintendo Entertainment System from Sly Dog Studios. I was originally able to preview this game last summer at a NintendoAge event and wow was I blow away! I might go off on a limb and say that this might be my favorite NES homebrew to date!
The gameplay is something entirely unique and under utilized in gaming. It is a slow methodical platformer with puzzle based elements giving it a Metroidvania feel to it. This sense of exploration and advancement is brought about through the gaining of power-ups in order to make your wizard more powerful. One thing that might turn off most players is the slowness of the wizard’s hover at the beginning of the game. I have to mention that there is a power-up earned early on that speeds this up, so fear not weary travelers!
The graphics and music have a Commodore 64 feel to them, which is great! Everything in the game is extremely polished and really shows what a programmer can accomplish when they put their, albeit warped, mind to it. I love how each screen has a title to it, immersing you in the world. The music tracks are simplistic, yet flow smoothly, giving you a sense of adventure.
There are multiple unique boss fights that require you to utilize your powers as you acquire them. While they are difficult at first, they become extremely fun to play. There are no save points in the game which makes it decently difficult. Luckily there are unlimited continues to allow you to make progression. Essentially, once you learn what paths to take and memorize the map, you can get through the game pretty quickly. It’s honestly a pretty good mix giving the game a decent difficulty that spikes up in the latter levels.
– Pros –
– Metroidvania Exploration
– Excellent score
– Multiple unique power-ups
– Cons –
– Little on the short side
– No saving (could be a pro in conjunction with the above con)
– Bottom Line –
The Mad Wizard is an extremely well polished NES homebrew game that doesn’t feel like a homebrew at all. This game could have been released during the lifespan of the Nintendo Entertainment System and would have been an instant classic! Once you know where to go in the game, it won’t take you too long, however that initial trip is an amazing one. Let’s hope for a sequel!