Interview with Jason Canam
This week’s Lost Treasures of Gaming take a bit of a twist with our coverage of a classic video game. While normally we would interview someone who was personally involved with the original development of the game, this week’s guest is the Founder/Director of House Hold Games, formerly a designer at Drink Box Studios. Jason had nothing to do with the development of Wizard for the Commodore 64. In fact, he was only 4 years old when he first played the game. But that was a fateful moment in his life and Wizard began something in Jason that is still alive in him today. This week we explore the very real affect that video games can have on people and how an obscure Lost Treasure can change a life forever.
One of the most fondly remembered video games from the 8-bit computer era was Jumpman, from Epyx. Although you might remember that one quite easily, there was another game that came out just a little bit later called WIZARD that was similar in some ways, but also arguably better in others. The WIZARD is definitely not as well known as Jumpman, so it definitely qualifies as a lost treasure.
Developed by Sean A. Moore (a science fiction writer and computer programmer) and Stephen Leudders from Colorado, WIZARD has a main objective of obtaining a key that would let you unlock and progress to the next level. The game has often been compared to Jumpman because of the similar graphics and animations although the games do differ in many ways.
The original programmers have stated the similarities are a coincidence, and that they also felt the game would have done better had it been released before Jumpman instead of after. There are 40 levels in the game (compared to 30 in Jumpman) and an updated release called ULTIMATE WIZARD actually shipped with 100 levels and a level editor.
Ultimately, the game did not do as well as hoped and the game never turned into a franchise, even with the backing of Electronic Arts and the contributions made by Paul Reiche III, who made Archon and the
original Skylanders among other things.
If you like Jumpman and are looking for a platforming with lots of great moves and exciting levels, WIZARD may be just the ticket for you. You can play it via emulation today or a good ole Commodore 64 if you still happen to have one kicking around.
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