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Fireball Wizard (PC) artwork

Fireball Wizard (PC) review

"Committing arson has never been so middling"

Fireball Wizard (PC) image

Fireball Wizard's title proves to be apt. Just hearing it, you know right away what you're getting from this package: a game starring a wizard who shoots fireballs. Honestly, that's more or less the premise, and the game doesn't try to be grander than that. On one hand, I commend this 2D throwback for delivering precisely what it advertised with its moniker. It's a little hard to muck up a game about a wanna-be Gandalf shooting fiery projectiles. However, it's hard to see this offering as anything more than adequate...

Mainly, we've seen all of Fireball's content in prior titles, usually in the form of numerous 2D platformer gauntlets filled with tricky traps and trickier monsters. Thankfully, this one skips the rotating saw blades, but it still features its share of spikes, lava/acid pits, floating fireballs, and ghosts. Sometimes, the aforementioned pointy objects even surprise you and fall from the ceiling or shoot up out of the ground periodically, just to keep you on your toes. Again, this is the same old song and dance, except with looser jumping mechanics. This isn't to say that Fireball's hopping physics bring the experience down drastically, but they're a touch too floaty, rendering proper timing a tad difficult.

Of course, monsters fill the spaces between obstacles, just asking to be blown to bits. To its credit, the game does a terrific job of varying up its bestiary, even when it recolors old sprites. For instance, you have four different colors of slime to deal with. Green ones do nothing and die easily, while reds burst into a mess of scorching embers when defeated. Purple specimens split into numerous babies, and the yellow species sends a mad skull after you when defeated. Yes, even beyond these gooey foes, you find some tough beasts to deal with, from werewolves that pursue you in the utmost to plants that shoot poison.

Fireball Wizard (PC) image

Combat consists of little more than shooting, and yet it's somehow satisfying. Your bullets fly out in rapid succession or speed through the air after a charged shot. Your opponents sometimes move erratically enough that you're constantly in motion. Really, there's not much more to battle here than jumping, shooting, and eventually utilizing a dash skill that you learn midway through the campaign. Still, that's all you need. Simplicity can feel restricting in some games, but here it hits the right notes.

Felling creatures nets you gold rings, which you can then spend in the hub town to upgrade your wand or rebuild one of three restaurants. Bolstering your weapon allows you to deal additional damage and recharge your spells more quickly, while restoring eateries adds an extra challenge to the campaign in which you secure pieces of food hidden in every level. In other words, mending the pizza joint places slices of pizza in each stage, while the burger place and the sushi emporium add their own grub for you to snag.

And what do these collectibles do when you've secured them all? Nothing. You get a floating, magical slice of pizza in your pizzeria that does nada. It looks cool, I guess. Wait, no, it doesn't even do that. You receive the satisfaction of knowing you went out of your way to find all of those pieces of pie for nothing.

Fireball Wizard (PC) image

Here's the thing: these goods don't boost the finished product's challenge factor much. Some of them are simple as hell to find because they're just hanging out, smack in the walkway where you couldn't miss them. Others hide in one of the forty-two secret rooms, which are also mostly not tough to locate. You can discover almost all of them by pressing up against various walls throughout each stage until you happen to walk through one.

I say “mostly easy” because two of them remain tucked in rather cheap areas, where no one would reasonably think to check. In both cases, you must drop onto a river of lava in just the right place, where there is no indication whatsoever that you can or should do so. The only reason I found these caches is I hit up YouTube and lucked out on someone doing a 100% walkthrough.

You'd think a wizard would come with a huge spellbook brimming with all kinds of magic, but here you only get (or even need) a few handy tricks. Of course, I mentioned the dash ability, which consumes your magic power, but you also receive a ground stomp that breaks through certain bricks, a freeze spell for stopping adversaries and smashing down heated walls, a fire incantation that sets your opponents ablaze or shatters ice barriers, and a lightning technique that damages everything on the screen. A few of these abilities sound cheap and/or game-breaking, but the truth is they only deal so much damage. They're useful enough that you can and should take them into account during tougher predicaments, but they're scaled-back enough that you don't feel like you're going to mow down whole armies with them.

Fireball Wizard (PC) image

Yes, I've made my share of gripes, but they're mostly nitpicks. Unfortunately, Fireball Wizard's greatest sin is that it doesn't really stand out. We've played numerous 2D platformers just like this one, but better. I'm not knocking this title for its unoriginality, but because it doesn't really sport much of an identity or anything that separates it from its kin. It is, as so many indie games are, merely adequate.

So yeah, I'm not going to advise you against purchasing this one. You can easily finish it in a sitting or two, even going so far as to snag all of the food, buy all of the upgrades, and hunt down the hidden rooms. I'll just tell you to save it for a rainy day, when you're bored at home with nothing else to do...

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (April 18, 2024)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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