Thanks to Flying Tiger Entertainment for the review code
Title: Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Wizard Fire
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 06/21/2018
As the direct sequel to Gate of Doom, this game takes place a while after the events of the first game. An evil army wants to unleash terror upon the world, and it’s up to three of the same heroes from the first game along with two new warriors to put a stop to those evil plans!
Being part of the Johnny Turbo Arcade line, the exact same video filter and display options are present, still unchanged, and still working as fine as they should, if a bit lacking as per usual.
The game itself is a significant improvement in comparison to Gate of Doom, both in looks and sound. The colors are a lot more detailed and fit the darker tone of the stages a lot better than Gate of Doom, and the music is significantly louder and grander than before. There’s even more voice acting in this game, with most lines inbetween stages being voiced by each of the characters, instead of the characters simply shouting whenever they use magic. Of course, the voice acting is compressed and pretty cheesy, but for a 16-bit Arcade game from 1992 it’s surprisingly solid and gets the job done.
Just like in Gate of Doom, Wizard Fire is an isometric action game where the main goal of each stage is to defeat the waves of enemies that you encounter as you make it to boss at the end of the stage. The controls are exactly the same as they were in Gate of Doom, with A to attack and B to transform into whatever creature is shown on the magic book, which also means that the standard Johnny Turbo settings of not allowing for button remapping or DIP switch changes remain in effect. As a result, you won’t start out with a full bar of health since the default arcade settings only provides you with four out of six units to begin with, although you can collect health items from defeated enemies.
With the Ninja gone, two new heroes join the cause, with the Elf and Dwarf joining the Knight, Wizard and Bard to defeat evil. The three returning characters act just like they did in the last game when it comes to attacking, with the Knight having a very handy spin attack, the Wizard being able to shoot flames from her cloak, and the Bard being able to use melee attacks. However, this time around all five characters also gain specific attributes, such as the Wizard being the strongest when using magic transformations, the Elf being the fastest at movement speed, and several characters being immune to certain status conditions. Some characters are also capable of charging their normal attack to unleash a stronger version of it, which can help deal more damage to bosses. These traits do help make the characters more pronounced in a way, but it also ends up doing something that made this game not as easy to get into compared to Gate of Doom, despite the improved presentation and new characters, and that comes from the problem of the movement speed.
Make no mistake, you’ll need the elf to get anywhere in this game, at least when you’re starting out and getting used to it. While the other characters are still good at fighting enemies, their movement is as slow as molasses, all while the enemies move much faster than characters such as the Wizard and Knight. Thus, it’s incredibly difficult to dodge incoming attacks with those characters, leading to the Bard and Elf being the best characters to play as solely because they can actually dodge enemies consistently, even though their attack strength isn’t nearly as high as the other characters. While you can continue spam due to the nature of this game if you don’t want to worry about the actual challenge, it doesn’t really feel right that hi-score chasers who place limits on themselves will have their adventure cut short, unless they use the two characters I mentioned above or memorize the enemy patters in and find proper ways of taking out bosses with minimal damage. As a result, this game is significantly more difficult than Gate of Doom, although the co-op is just as fun as it was in the first game, and it does manage to be an enjoyable arcade experience you can complete in under and hour.
In conclusion, Wizard Fire is standard fare for the Johnny Turbo Arcade line, continuing the exact same traditions of not allowing for DIP Switch changes and button controls, while the game itself manages to be a fairly run of the mill sequel to Gate of Doom. While the voice acting is impressive for the time and by far the most memorable part of the game, the gameplay experience itself isn’t really anything to write home about, and in some ways it feels less solid than Gate of Doom solely because of the increased difficulty and some standard Arcade quirks that make the game demand more quarters from the player, instead of giving them a fair and balanced challenge that they can overcome with trial and error. Still, if you enjoyed the first one and the idea of chasing hi-scores isn’t your thing in favor of actually playing the game with a buddy, then Wizard Fire isn’t a bad thing to start after playing through Gate of Doom, and it’s nice to have both games available on the same system for the first time ever!
I give Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Wizard Fire a 7 out of 10.