Gate of Doom & Wizard Fire: What’s Old Isn’t New Again, But It’s Still Important

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As you may have noticed, I make no attempt to hide my affection for the games that populated the arcades, bowling alleys and pizza parlors of my youth. I’ve always enjoyed re-visiting these relics of my past, and many, many of the titles hold up. Pac-Man, Galaga, Golden Axe, Street Fighter II. I enjoy them so much I’ve dedicated a lot of effort to bringing this experience into my game room, with a stack of arcade PCBs and the hardware necessary to get them playing on a home television setup.

That said, I acknowledge that not all vintage arcade games have aged well. I’m not referring to graphical sensibilities, though that can often rear its head. I’m talking about the experience. Many games were a point along the path of development of a larger game-play type, as opposed to a revolutionary take (Street Fighter II), or the peak of a genre (Galaga). Gate of Doom and Wizard Fire both fall along a midpoint of a genre that was rapidly evolving, and that makes them seem perhaps, at this juncture, without value. They weren’t the first, nor the best, of their kind.

But they do absolutely have value. And here we come to one of the real-world, tangible benefits to collections like the Johnny Turbo Arcade Collection: preservation.

BURN IT WITH FIRE! …wizard fire!

Gate of Doom and Wizard Fire are isometric dungeon crawlers, the latter being a followup to the former. I’ve discussed the very well done presentation FTE brings to this collection many times, and the same holds true for these two titles. The games are simple medieval fantasy dungeon romps with monsters, spells, potions, treasure, swords and bravery. They’re colorful, control fine for what they are, but aren’t terribly memorable.

These games weren’t revolutionary, but despite their simplicity, they’ve got something to offer.

But… what these games are, is rare, with a capital R. These aren’t something you’ll run into at your local barcade. I’d lay money that Gate of Doom would be an extremely unlikely find at a national retro arcade expo and according to the Arcade Museum Database, there are no known cabinets of Wizard Fire registered. It’s a good possibility that there may in fact be none left in the world.

Wizard Fire ramps up the graphical fidelity in a pleasing way, but that’s the only real difference.

While certain games, like Super Mario Bros., will always be around in some form, there are thousands of games, good ones, that are in danger of being lost forever. The good folks at FTE are bringing us not only seminal Data East mega-hits like Bad Dudes, but also titles, like Wizard Fire, that are on the edge of being lost forever.

Are Gate of Doom and Wizard Fire amazing games? No, they’re not. But this is likely our only chance to own a legitimate, well-executed version of these titles, and have the experience of playing them in an authentic manner. As gamers, we owe it to ourselves, and the artists who create these weird interactive experiences we love, to honor those creations, and remember them.

Don’t let these games be lost forever in the dungeon of arcades past. [Also, ouch.]
That’s the true value in Gate of Doom and Wizard Fire. They’re a part of gaming history that’s in danger of disappearing completely, and that’s why you should check them out while you have the opportunity. Go roast some dragons, and take a minute to feel fortunate that arcade archives allow us to fight another day.

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download (Gate of Doom), (Wizard Fire)
Publisher – Flying Tiger Entertainment, Inc.
Price – $7.99 each
Genre – Arcade / Action / RPG
Size – 56.6MB (Gate of Doom), 66MB (Wizard Fire)

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