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Video Game / Wizards & Warriors

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Released in 1987 by Acclaim, developed by British company Rare, Wizards & Warriors features Knight in Shining Armor Kuros hopping through the kingdom, in search of his beloved (and nameless) Princess, abducted by token Evil Sorcerer Malkil. Along the way, he'll rescue any OTHER Damsels in Distress he happens to stumble over, along with picking up a variety of magical odds and ends.

Wizards & Warriors is a platformer with both dungeon-crawler and mild RPG elements. Players have to roam through large levels looking for enough gems to pay their way to a boss fight and could collect keys, treasure, and special items along the way, while dealing with a limited inventory.

The other games in this series are Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II, released for the NES in 1989, Fortress of Fear: Wizards & Warriors X, released for the Game Boy in 1990, and Wizards & Warriors III: Kuros: Visions of Power, for the NES in 1992.


Kuros and Malkil were also regular characters on the cartoon segment of Video Power, with the latter also appearing in the Captain N: The Game Master episode "Nightmare on Mother Brain's Street". The first game was adapted into a book for the Worlds of Power series as well.

Not to be confused with an unrelated RPG with the same name designed by David W. Bradley of Wizardry fame, which was released in 2000. Or with the Wizards & Warriors TV series.


The series provides examples of:

  • Ability Required to Proceed: Defeating Malkil in the third game requires the Level 3 Wizard's levitation ability to scale the tower, the Level 3 Thief's skeleton key to open the doors, and the Level 3 Knight's Silversword to actually fight Malkil. Of course, Kuros needs to already be level 2 in each guild to undertake the level 3 tests and level 1 to undertake the level 2 tests. There are also various obstacles in the game that require each ability to clear.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: All of the Thief class challenges in the third game involve puzzling through an auto-scrolling platform section.
  • Beating A Dead Player: Enemies will not stop attacking and diving at the corpse of Kuros during and after his death throes.
  • Bee Afraid: In the first game, after collecting enough gems to get past the Red Knight and get into the tree, you're dropped into a tree full of giant bees that you have to get through to reach the first boss. They were quite fast and quite unpredictable, and gave a number of kids of the time nightmares.
  • BFS: The titular Ironsword from the second game and the Silversword from the third game. They shoot energy bolts.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The city of Piedup from the third game is a lot more vertical than your average city would be. It's handwaved by the manual as having been built as an experiment in space conservation, though this doesn't really explain how a city of houses on wooden platforms is able to support a massive castle on top without collapsing under its own weight. Special mention should go to the throne room, which is only accessible through a passage in the deepest part of the dungeon, requires four gems to open, and can only be scaled through magical levitation.
  • Boomerang Comeback:
    • The Dagger and Ax in the first game.
    • The third game's second tier of the Knight class had a massive throwing axe that returned.
  • Bottomless Pits: Subverted in the third game. If Kuros falls over the side of the castle, he'll end up back in the city.
  • But Thou Must!: To get jewels to unlock the king's prison in the third game, Kuros has to promise to marry the princesses who keep them. All three princesses. Part of him might be glad to be catapulted into the future after beating Malkil.
  • Cap: If playing the first game for score, the highest number the counter reaches is 999,999.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: In the third game, a separate pause menu is used by pressing the select button, allowing the player to switch classes on the fly. It also provides a split second of invincibility that can be exploited during the final boss battle.
  • Circling Birdies: Kuros will either get a halo of stars when killed or just have a sound effect happen depending on the game.
  • Colon Cancer: The title of the third game: Wizards & Warriors III: Kuros: Visions of Power.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In the third game, each level of each guild gives Kuros a different coloured armour/robes/clothing. This also has the amusing result of Kuros changing his skin tone for each rank of the thieves' guild.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover artwork for all four titles depict Kuros as a half-naked barbarian, despite the fact that he's a Knight in Shining Armor in the games. Likewise, Malkil appears on the cover of the first game as an ashen-skinned Evil Overlooker but when you get to him he's a bearded wizard with bright sky-blue robes. He finally gets the "shadowy sorcerer" look in the Gameboy game, Fortress of Fear.
  • Critical Annoyance: Getting low on health in the first game will trigger a musical ditty that will not stop, even during the "Continue" screen.
  • Crowbar Combatant: The second tier of the Thief class in the third game carries a crowbar. It functions as both a melee weapon and can be used to enter certain windows.
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • One at the end of each level in the first game. They're even labeled as such.
    • The third game had three of them, each holding a crystal that was required to access the dungeon level back entrance to the king's tower. The fourth was in possession of a three-headed dragon.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist:
    • While the sequels averted this, the original game was very forgiving regarding death. You come back to life on the exact spot at which you died, unless it was a boss fight, in which case you restart the boss fight. "Game Over" and continuing is treated as nothing more than just coming back to life again, could be done infinitely but would reset your score to zero.
    • Killing Malkil doesn't seem to hinder him much more than being reduced to a temporarily weakened spirit.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Feather Of Feather Fall.
  • Depth Perplexion: Floating tree stumps in the forest of the first game.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Boots of Force are the most powerful weapon in the first game. The developers were betting on your inadvertently trading them in later on, though.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The titular Ironsword of the second game is in four separate pieces, recovered through the first four stages and then used to great effect in the last stage.
  • The Dragon: A literal example in the third game as one of the four gems required to enter Malkil's keep is carried by a three-headed dragon. Since it requires both the levitation skill and the Silversword to defeat, it's probably the final gem that will be obtained by the player, especially considering that it's located right by the keep entrance.
  • Elemental Embodiment: In Wizards and Warriors 2, the bosses you fought were embodiments of the four classical elements: Wind, Water, Fire and Earth. In order to defeat them you had to find a particular spell with which to enchant your sword.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Subverted in the third game. Fewer enemies will try to kill you if you're correctly dressed in the relevant area; A knight in the castle, a thief in the city, and a wizard in the underworld will attract a lot less attention than, say, a knight in the underworld, a thief in the castle, or a wizard in the city. Lampshaded by the manual:
    If Kuros doesn't go around brandishing his sword like some sort of macho man, they'll probably leave him alone.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Malkil uses a lot of magic throughout the series and is the villain for Kuros to defeat.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Dagger of Throwing, the Shield of Protection, the Boots of Lava Walk... Hell, just about every item.
  • The Faceless: Played straight in the first two games, as Kuros is always wearing a helmet. The Knight and Wizard classes of the third game also play it straight, being helmeted and hooded, respectively. This is subverted by Kuros' thief appearance, which depicts him as sporting a beard. He's also shown helmetless in the intro after Malkil blasts him off the top of the mountain and when he acquires a shortsword from a creature that attempts to ambush him.
  • Falling Damage:
    • Kuros will not take fall damage, but long falls will stun him for a few moments.
    • Falls in the third game cause damage. Curiously, he falls from the top of a mountain in the intro sequence with only memory loss as the only issue.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • The final level in the first game. Bribing the knight guarding the door to Malkil requires 100 gems. Only about 65 are out in the open which requires killing countless enemies to randomly drop the 35 gems necessary to proceed. Or finding the well-hidden secret rooms.
    • The platforming elements in this series can range from tricky (numerous sloped areas) to downright hellish. Be prepared to lose a lot of lives trying to land perfectly on every floating platform in the 3rd wizard trial in W&W 3.
  • Fetch Quest:
    • The four animal guardians in Ironsword really want their golden objects back. Although in two of the cases said guardians appear to be too large to leave the room they occupy.
    • In order to undergo guild tests, Kuros must first find that guild's statue. Justified in that the statue is actually part of the trial as the boss.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The third game requires you to join all three guilds to proceed, complete with appropriate outfits.
  • Gaiden Game: Wizards & Warriors Chapter X: The Fortress of Fear for the Game Boy.
  • Gainax Ending: For the third game. Malkil explodes, leaving a portal. Kuros jumps into it and ends up in the future, with the implication that he'll be fighting Malkil throughout time.
  • Giant Spider: One of the bosses in the first game.
  • Give Me Your Gems: The knight guarding the door to the boss in each level can only be placated by handing over the indicated amount of money. No, you can't kill him, no matter how much you may want to. But, the gems aren't actually subtracted from the player's total.
  • Guide Dang It!: The cloud level of the second game requires you to bounce on the clouds to reach the upper reaches of the stage. There's no indication of how to do this in the game or manual. Brief experimentation should yield the player the answer to this rather quickly, though.
  • Hit Points: In the first game:
    • Kuros's health is measured in red symbols.
    • The boss's health is measured in blue symbols. In the third game, a boss's health is shown on a bar below Kuros's marked "Evil".
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: The dungeon guardian in the third game (behind the door where the game begins) is impossible to defeat with starting equipment. In order to get into the undercity, Kuros needs to slip past him as a thief.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Food typically heals in all of the games.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Many key items and other treasures are in treasure chests. They need keys, too.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: While all three games have keys and locks, this trope only applies to Ironsword.
  • In the Hood: The Wizard form depicts Kuros in a hooded wizard's robe.
  • Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality: Pushing the B button makes Kuros swing his sword with pathetically short range. His best attack strategy is simply to jump. He keeps his sword extended during the leap and any enemies that contact it are damaged.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Inverted: the item is called the Cloak of Darkness. The cloak doesn't actually make you invisible, just changes your palette to be completely black. You can see yourself fine if there's a background object behind you. Its actual gameplay effect is that it caps the damage you take from non-boss attacks to 1 unit of damage. It's not very useful since most monsters only hit for 1 damage anyway.
  • Item Get!:
    • Kuros will triumphantly raise the different class trophies above his head in the third game.
    • In the first and second game, whenever you open a chest, you'll get a screen with a detailed picture of what you find within, accompanied by a gliding harp sound effect. This gets particularly cool in the second game when, after defeating the final elemental boss, the next level starts with the detailed picture of a blade and "You got The Ironsword".
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Kuros, though he's always shown as a barbarian type in cover art and on TV.
  • Level in the Clouds: An eagle will take you there in the second game. The level is made entirely of clouds, and you have to keep an eye on enemies like birds, yellow spectra and incoming whirlwinds.
  • Leitmotif: The third game doesn't have specific music for each section of the city, instead having music for each class. The thief's theme sounds appropriately sneaky, the wizard's theme has a mystical feel to it, and the knight's theme is upbeat, as befitting an idealistic Knight in Shining Armor.
  • Lettered Sequel: The Game Boy title is X even though it was released third chronologically (because the third game starts immediately after the second game, messing up the chronology a bit).
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Wizard Kuros can gain altitude this way in the third game.
  • Life Meter: In the first game:
    • Kuros's is indicated on the left bottom of the screen, labeled "LIFE", using red symbols.
    • The boss's is indicated to the right of Kuros's Life meter, but is in blue symbols and labeled "EVIL".
  • Master of Unlocking: Kuros becomes one with his thief class in the third game with the help of a crowbar and a Skeleton Key.
  • Metroidvania: The third game requires improved class abilities to proceed past certain points.
  • Meaningful Name: The name of the town is Piedup, just one letter off from piLedup, which which would be an appropriate description of its design.
  • Multi-Melee Master: Kuros, while primarily being a sword wielding knight, can make use of other weapons, such as daggers, staffs and axes. In the third game, he even wields four different types of sword: the shortsword, the longsword, and the Silver Sword as the Knight (level 0, 1 and 3 respectively) and a short dagger-sword as the Thief.
  • Naked Apron: The Store Clerk in Ironsword appears to wear nothing under his green apron.
  • Named Weapons:
    • Kuros wields the Brightsword in W&W 1, then the titular Ironsword in the sequel once it is assembled.
    • The third game had the Silversword, a BFS that shoots some sort of magical bolts.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Malkil, whose name basically means "Bad kill".
  • Nintendo Hard: The first isn't particularly hard due to infinite continues. The sequels, respectively, give you two continues, and NO continues.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: Accepting Malkil's offer at the end of Wizards & Warriors 3 treats you to a small cutscene of Kuros chained to the floor in front of Malkil's throne, wearing nothing but his knightly skivvies, as Malkil laughs. While that scene is the standard game over, the non-standard part of that is when you actually accept Malkil's offer. You walk over to the other end of the throne room, when Malkil blasts you with some sort of spell and says "Ha ha! The fool."
  • Not the Intended Use: In ''Ironsword" the special stage specific projectiles could pick up items when shot at them. This usually isn't a problem as the previous stage's projectile is taken away when the piece of the ironsword is collected and the next stage's projectile is acquired after the stage's puzzle for the MacGuffin. However a glitch allows the player to take the previous stage's projectile into the next up until you get the ironsword which comes with it's own. Players have learned doing this with the Windbane they can bypass the watersprout puzzle to get the golden fly simply by shooting at it with the windbane, kill the stage 2 boss completely bypassing the underwater section, and bypassing the slope puzzle for the golden crown by similarly shooting it with the windbane and keeping the windbane until the level 3 boss as it's trajectory can't connect with the stage's boss. The firesmite can be kept for stage four but can't sequence break and the earthscorch is replaced by the ironsword's own projectile even if the glitch is performed.
  • Numbered Sequels: The NES games play this trope straight with some Colon Cancer.
  • Orcus on His Throne: In the third game, Malkil usurps the throne of Piedup and takes the form of a king. Holing himself up in the throne room, he uses the time to rebuild his strength, especially seeing as the way into the throne room is now ridiculously convoluted.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: And have three heads, apparently.
  • Poison Mushroom: Ironsword contains swollen, bulging chickens that reduce your health instead of restoring it.
  • Power-Up Letdown:
    • In the first game, some items will replace other items. This may result in replacing the Boots of Force with the Boots of Lava Walk or vice versa. Generally the Boots of Force are superior because they can kick open chests without needing a key and can inflict kick damage to enemies. The Boots of Lava Walk don't really help against as much against lava as you might want. However, a major letdown is the Wand of Wonder, which freezes enemies in place... for less than one full second.
    • This is much more apparent in Ironsword, since many of the items collected do absolutely nothing to improve Kuros' abilities, they just change his appearance.
    • Averted in the third game, where Kuros can switch classes at will.
  • Race Lift: For whatever reason, Kuros' skin tone darkens for each level of the thieves guild he obtains.
  • Random Drop: Present in the first two games.
  • Sequel: The Original Title:
    • The second game is subtitled Ironsword.
    • This was originally going to happen with the third game as well with the title Silversword, which still appears ingame.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the Damsels you save in the first game is called Galadriel
    • One of the heads of the Thieves Guild is called The Cat and one tavern is named The Red Dwarf.
    • One of the tavern owners is named Newton N Ridley.
    • Having to agree to marry all three princesses in a But Thou Must! moment is a direct reference to the Trope Namer, Dragon Quest I.
    • Malkil's castle is deep in the forests of Elrond.
  • Skeleton Key: The third level of the Thief in the third game gets one of these. With it, Kuros can open any door or brown window.
  • Slouch of Villainy: When Malkil is found at the end of the third game the villain is reclined very comfortably on an oversized throne.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness:
    • In the second game, you start with a rather puny, weak sword, and get progressively longer, more powerful swords until you finally assemble the Ironsword, the best weapon in the game.note  However, this trope is subverted in the third level (the level after the Air Elemental battle), where, if you stockpile enough money, you can get the Diamond Sword, which is as big as the Ironsword and does the most damage in the game. It's possible to lose it by buying a weaker weapon, but if you can keep it, it will carry you through the next 6 levels easily enough, after which you'll have the Ironsword.
    • Played with in the third game. The knight's weapons increase in effectiveness from the near useless shortsword, through the longsword, throwing axe, and up to the mighty silversword. The thief starts with a dagger and gains a very slight reach increase with the crowbar, but has no offensive capability with the skeleton key. The wizard only has any form of attack at level 1, with level 2 generating a forcefield that is only useful for crossing waterfalls, and level 3 is a levitation spell.
  • Stock Money Bag: Dollar signed bags are commonly found. These also increase the score.
  • Stripperiffic: The princess and the maidens in the first game are dressed in a bra and panties and nothing else. Justified in that they're prisoners and they've apparently been hanging from the ceiling for quite a long time by the time you get to them.
  • Super Serum: Three potions in the first game. The red one grants you invincibility, the teal one doubles your running speed, and the purple one improves your jumping height. There's also the Potion of Levitation, which stays in your inventory once found.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Kuros loses his memory in the third game's intro when Malkil blasts him off the top of a mountain. He still remembers enough to want to fight Malkil.
  • Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Why are there uncollected head-sized perfectly cut gemstones out in the open is anyone's guess.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: The Cloak of Darkness doesn't actually make Kuros invisible to enemies; it makes Kuros invisible to the player.
  • We Can Rule Together: Malkil makes this offer to Kuros at the end of the third game. If Kuros accepts, it results in a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • A Winner Is You:
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The first and third games have plenty of damsels for you to rescue, though.