Tribute Games lives up to its name with Wizorb: a game that’s a tribute to both The Legend of Zelda and ball-bouncing classics Breakout and Arkanoid, melding both styles together surprisingly well. The land of Gorudo is laid to waste by monsters, and only Cyrus the wizard has orbs big enough to take them all on. Wizorb’s aesthetics aim to lovingly recreate the world of 8-bit gaming, the graphics to music feel ripped right out of an NES title, and Tribute manages to pull it off without feeling like a cheap knock-off.
The borrowed elements from Zelda only extend so far as the overall aesthetics. Though there is one village and quite a few townsfolk that need help (which equates to donations of gold), there really are no adventure or RPG elements to speak of. Wizorb is all about bouncing balls (magic orbs) against a paddle (magic wand) and using those balls to break through whatever blocks and enemies stand in Cyrus’ path.
Where Wizorb differs from its inspiration is the usage of magic mechanics in order to make things a bit more manageable. Cyrus can call forth a gust of wind to affect the direction of the orb, hurl fireballs, supercharge an orb to take out multiple targets, and even take direct control for a short time. All of these techniques drain the magic meter, which isn’t much of a problem since it can be refilled by finding some pieces scattered around the level, in chests, bought from shops or even just by keeping the orb bouncing for a certain period of time.
None of these abilities are game-breakers, however, as Wizorb has a satisfying difficulty curve without becoming frustrating. Players will definitely have to restart levels as the difficulty rises, and keeping up with the bouncing orb can require an eagle’s eye, but overall there’s nothing about Wizorb that becomes too taxing even when it throws bosses into the mix. Taking on bosses requires players to simultaneously dodge attacks while keeping the orb in play, angling it to bounce off the boss and damage them in the process.
If Cyrus’ magical abilities aren’t enough, there are shops that can be found throughout the levels where various power-ups can be purchased. The power-ups will disappear once the orb slips past Cyrus’ wand, but even having them for a few seconds can be a great help. All that gold Cyrus has accumulated is put to good use when power-ups like a magnetic ball, more powerful ball, multiple balls, and a bigger wand can be bought and used to clear out those occasionally irksome last blocks that the orb keeps sailing past.
Despite these various gameplay options, Wizorb is a very simple and repetitive game at its heart. There are quite a few levels to plow through, and although there are a variety of designs and settings, it always comes down to the same thing: man versus bouncing ball. Anyone who craves level-to-level variety might find Wizorb to be a disappointing experience.
Still, it’s a very well-designed game that harkens back to the arcade era which adds a few new twists to what could’ve been a very dull game. Fans of brick-breaking titles will find much to enjoy with Wizorb. It adds a new wrinkle to gameplay with its magic elements, and its mimicry of the bygone NES days will charm the pants off anyone nostalgic for that era.
Eight out of ten