Wizards & Warriors III - Kuros... Visions of Power © 1992 Acclaim Entertainment, Incorporated.
A platforming and adventure video game. The game picks up immediately from the events at the end of Ironsword where the knight warrior Kuros had just defeated the evil wizard Malkil from the peak of IceFire Mountain. Unaware that Malkil's spirit is still intact, Kuros gets struck by a bolt of magic from the spirit, causing him to lose his armor, memory, and honor. Malkil then flees to the city of Piedup and seizes the throne from Good King James. Meanwhile, Kuros, after wandering for months in the wilderness without weapons, armor, or food, arrives at the city of Piedup, where he must build strength and utilize various disguises and abilities in order to take on Malkil. The game is nonlinear and requires players to explore various areas to pick up items and gain abilities to unlock different parts of the city in order to progress.
GAME ID: NES-8W-USA
Released in March 1992 in the USA. It sold ~300,000 copies in North America.
Development of Wizards & Warriors III started in 1990, when, after strong sales with Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II, Rare gave Zippo Games the rights to develop and direct the third installment in the series.
The game was originally titled Silversword, which was the name of the development project.
The Pickford brothers came up with the concept of Kuros' disguises of knight, wizard, and thief as an homage to Ultimate Play the Game's (Rare's former incarnation) 1983 ZX Spectrum title "Atic Atac [Model 481006]". Ste Pickford said that designing a game which consisted of multiple characters, guilds, and secrets "was a dream come true at the time", saying that they wanted to pay tribute to the various Ultimate Play the Game titles they played in the early 1980s. Pickford wanted to design a game that was a step forward from most Action RPGs for the NES; he opted for nonlinear gameplay in which the different disguises and accompanying abilities would allow the player to access new areas of the map. "Wizards & Warriors III was more like a game that I really wanted to make." Pickford said.
As with Zippo Games' previous projects, the concept art was drawn on paper. The graphics were then drawn with Deluxe Paint and then translated into the ROM manually, sprite-by-sprite, as the NES hardware required precision in sprite placements; this was different from what Rare did, which was to place each pixel of the graphics sprites on graph paper with marker pens and then tasked people to type the code into the ROM. Ste Pickford said that while Rare's sprite-drawing method was easier, his method, while time-consuming, was more efficient.
Most everything from the previous Wizards & Warriors games were removed, except for the main protagonist, Kuros, and the game's main antagonist, Malkil.
The concept art was originally drawn in black and white, even though the games were being designed in color, to save money from photocopying or printing in color - both of which were very expensive at the time.
In developing the Demon mini-boss, Pickford could only use about three animation frames, as the sprite was large for the NES hardware.
Pickford designed the Worm boss similar to the bosses found in R-Type, where a series of smaller sprites formed a snake or worm-like enemy; however, he commented that "it ended up in the game more like a giant floating head".
Pickford drew inspiration from the thrones in Super Mario Bros. 3 in designing the final boss, Malkil.
However, near the end of development, time constraints led the Pickford brothers to sell Zippo Games to Rare, in which Zippo was renamed Rare Manchester. With Rare as their boss, morale dropped for the development staff, and eventually everyone left the company before the game could be completed, thus shutting Rare Manchester down. According to Ste Pickford: "One of the programmers completed the game himself after the studio closed." Pickford included a cover, which consisted of a knight in a light-blue armor, in which he said "was just something I drew for fun". However, when the final version of the game was sent to Rare for approval after the studio's closing, they threw away the cover and added their own. According to Pickford, "The document came back with about two typos fixed, a new cover, and 'revised by Tim Stamper' in big letters on the title page, with all trace of myself or any of the Zippo Games names removed, so I guess Tim had a major role."
The Pickford brothers included a couple of easter egg references. One of them revolved around the name of one of the tavern keepers, Newton N. Ridley, which is a play off the brewery Newton and Ridley from the British soap opera Coronation Street.
Another easter egg reference was made to Dragon Warrior with regards to the princesses Kuros must save during the game. Upon saving a princess, she asks Kuros to marry her, prompting a yes/no response for the player; if the player selects no, the princess responds with "If you refuse, my heart will surely break!" and prompts the yes/no response again - similar to the "but thou must" response in Dragon Warrior. In addition, as all three princesses will have committed to marrying all three forms of Kuros, the original plan for the game's ending was for the three princesses to come together and see their heroes whom they were going to marry, only to find out all three princesses promised to marry the same person. To rectify the situation, Pickford called for what he referred to as "the ultimate cheapo cop-out", where a UFO abducts Kuros with a teleport beam, sending him into the future and setting the stage for the next sequel which would have been called Lasersword. However, this never came to be.
While Wizards & Warriors III hinted at a sequel at the end of the game, it has not happened. The publishing rights for the series remained with Acclaim, who went bankrupt in 2004, with their intellectual property rights going to Throwback Entertainment.