Originally published in Hamsterspeak #25.
The peculiar thing about the OHRRPGCE community is that it's a group of people who make games on a game maker intended to make RPGs, but the longer they do it, the less they like RPGs in general. In the words of Surlaw, "I actually hate RPGs for the most part and I think that's why I make them, I want to make ones that take away the aspects I find most horrible."
I would not be surprised to learn that that was Cameron Wilkin's intention when creating The Wizard's Bomb -- to take away all the cruft that makes RPGs unenjoyable. Here is an RPG that demands that you complete it in under 15 minutes. It puts the player in a vast world and instructs only that the titular evil wizard is to the east. The rest is up to the player.
You spend the first few games dying before you're able to level up. Convinced that you're doing something wrong, you try exploring. There's a boat near your starting location, and it's maybe at this point that you notice the main menu's Map option. The world is vast, and the larger continents house a couple of dungeons apiece.
You're not going to see all of this in fifteen minutes.
And here's the real genius of the game: no, you can't see it all in fifteen minutes. Nor do you need to. You're very likely to finish the game before you've explored all the game's dungeons. (In fact, this is probably the game's greatest weakness: the last boss is hardly more difficult than the random encounters that surround him.) But the game taunts you and invites you to finish it with more time on the clock or at a higher level. The author has mentioned putting in a high score counter, which would be a great addition. The ending is unspectacular, but you're likely to replay the game all the same.
There's not too much more that can be said about the game without giving anything away -- this is a game of exploration, after all, an experience that's stolen when shared. The environment feels a little rushed, but you're not going to spend much time soaking in NPC dialogue when you've only got 15 minutes to save the world. Only a few people seem to acknowledge the fact: it seems to be common knowledge, but good luck getting any help without parting with your hard-earned gold. The premise is paper-thin, but the game doesn't really suffer as a result.
The Wizard's Bomb is the distillation of the RPG genre and my pick for best game of the 2009 Gameathon.
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