Box art from yesteryear, games from the past – Wizardry: Legacy of Llylgamyn – The Third Scenario

The classic box art for Wizardry continued to be present a formal, simple, elegant style as well as featuring the name of the designers on the box. Again, characters from a previous Wizardry were needed to heed to call of adventure.

The Third Scenario came out roughly a year after Knight of Diamonds in 1983 with a host of improvements. It would also be the first Wizardry not to be exclusively designed by Robert Woodhead or Andrew Greenberg. The back of the box now boasted a set of new names in the designer’s seat — Robert Del Favero, Joshua Mittleman, and Sam Pottle. Another variant of the box back would refer to them as members of W. A. R. G. — Wizardry Adventurer’s Research Group.

W. A. R. G. was comprised of a number of D&D enthusiasts at Cornell responsible for the nuts and bolts of what creates an actual scenario. They had contributed to Knight of Diamonds and now focused their efforts on Legacy of Llylgamyn.

It was still very much a Wizardry-experts only club despite the inviting age rating on the back saying that it was for ages “7 to adult”. It was still a fantasy tale of mashing monsters and exploration. The difficulty, on the other hand, would still make grown adults weep tears on losing their favorite characters.

Players needed characters from either the first “scenario”, Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, or the second one, Knight of Diamonds. It was also released in the year the infamous Great Video Game Crash in North America kicked off bringing console juggernauts such as Atari low and left stacks of Vectrex machines sold at toy stores looking for buyers (although Nintendo in Japan was apparently doing just fine, later swooping into the vacuum).

Yet on the other side of the fence, PC gaming continued to expand. Developers didn’t shy away. Companies such as SSI, a fledgling Sierra On-Line,  Broderbund, and Sir-Tech continued to grow. Even Activision, which had catered exclusively to the console market, made the jump, refocusing their efforts and going head-to-head with young upstarts like Amazin’ Software which would later become better known as Electronic Arts.

As for Sir-Tech, they were sticking to what they knew — Wizardry — right down to another six-level dungeon as in Knights, a party of adventurers, crushing encounters, dying from too much sleep, and a brutal maze to explore. The brutal hazing it relied on as its modus operandi was very much alive.

A “generation had passed” since the events of Knight of Diamonds, so a new party of adventurers must go forth in this latest adventure. The Orb of Llylgamyn must be retrieved from the dastardly dragon, L’kbreth, from a mountain lair atop a six level dungeon to save the world. With the scrying powers of the Orb, the Sages of Llylgamyn will be able to determine the cause of the strange cataclysm threatening to destroy the world around them.

Despite the “Rite of Passage” that summons the spirits of your characters’ ancestors (essentially, the way the system checks to see if you had played any of the prior games with a valid set of characters), your fresh faced party will start at first level and its members will need to work their way back up the old fashioned way as they did in Proving Grounds. They’ll inherit neat things like names and even a few attribute improvements and classes, but they’ll be starting in on the ground floor as 12 HP (for fighters, at least) level one cadets. At least by this point, fans have gotten used to the idea of backing up the disk containing their favorite characters.

The previous games were all the tutorial that their audience needed and explained why the actual manual of the game and for Knight of Diamonds were slivers compared to the one that went out with Proving Grounds. TSR didn’t force everyone to repurchase a Player’s Handbook every time they bought into a new adventure for their party. Well, most of the time, anyway. Everything you needed to know was in that first dungeon.

One choice that players could make during character “creation” for Legacy was in determining their alignment. Legacy’s quest was designed for parties of both good and evil characters to go in and break on through to the end, so going in with a valiant band of do-gooders alone won’t get the job done.

Other improvements included the new “Wizardry Gaming System”. Before, Wizardry displayed your list of characters at the bottom of the screen, the maze view at the top left in a small window, command list in the upper right quadrant, and status bar in the center reporting battle text. Now, players can toggle the different “windows’ out of view, such as the party roster, to get an uncluttered look at the dungeon’s corridors.

If the layout sounds somewhat familiar, it should. CRPGs like Interplay’s Bard’s Tale in ’85 to SSI’s Gold Box Series a few years later borrowed the general look for their own GUIs, albeit with a number of improvements and without the ability to toggle everything off in the same way Legacy allowed. And both owed a debt to Oubliette on PLATO whose interface Wizardry had reversed — party roster at the top, dungeon view on the bottom right, and commands listed on the bottom left of the screen instead.

Other improvements were largely technical in nature — instead of only the “frontmost” monster displayed onscreen during combat, all monsters are now shown, for example. Players can button mash the Enter key to speed through menus thanks to default actions, such as Fighting or Parrying in combat. Players can also quit from inside the Maze, the dungeon the game takes place in, and pick up where they left off.

Essentially, however, Legacy of Llymgamyn focused on delivering the same mechanics with all-new challenges. Parties started out with only 500 pieces of gold to their name and little else, monsters were tougher, traps were more brutal, and as mentioned before, alignment played a huge part in progressing through the game. It could even change for characters depending on whether they chose to kill everything in their way (i.e. choosing to (F)ight if they were given a choice instead of (L)eave). By being bloodthirsty, characters could swing towards evil changing the party makeup — and determining whether they would have access to certain areas of the dungeon. It was a clever way to make alignment matter in a game, though at the same time, brutally exposed the limitations of using the concept beyond blocking certain staircases or areas from the player.

Legacy of Llylgamyn was released on the Famicom in 1989 and represented as the second game in the series, though in the West, it’s actually “The Third Scenario”. It’s a strange oddity that would follow the first three games in Japan into compilations like Wizardry I+II+III: Story of Llylgamyn for the SNES.

Yet the fans ate it up. Legacy of Llylgamyn was a solid hit for Sir-Tech and its fanbase, though by 1983, other developers were taking notice and were readying their own forays into the genre. Ultima III would also prove to be a hit for Richard Garriott and his new company, Origin Systems, in the same year. And like Ultima, Legacy would be ported over the next few years to a wide variety of platforms beyond the Apple II and its 48k of memory.

In the time that it took for the games to make it to Japan, and for some odd reason, ASCII published Legacy as it would the first two Wizardrys — but it would be represented as the second game in the series instead of the third and had apparently been released in that order years after the official releases on the Apple II in the West. The compilations of ASCII’s Japanese releases that followed later, such as Wizardry I+II+III: Story of Llylgamyn on the SNES or the Llylgamyn Saga for the PSX and the Saturn, both of which were Japan-only exclusives.

Yet Wizardry also became a big hit in Japan just like Garriott’s Ultima was years earlier. And like Ultima, it spawned manga, anime, and a host of other merchandise specific to Wizardry, most of which US audiences would never get to see. At the same time, ASCII also didn’t turn to anime to decorate the boxes and cart labels for the Wizardry titles, keeping them minimalist. In the case of the Llylgamyn Saga for the PSX, however, the use of more ‘serious’ and dramatic fantasy art would become something of a hallmark for the series in Japan going forward.

In 1998, the Llylgamyn Saga (a compilation of the first three Wizardry games in Japan) was released for Windows 95/98 PCs along with the PSX and the Sega Saturn. It was enhanced even further with new graphics, sound, and spiffy cover art that would add to the style of the series’ marketing there.

Legacy of Llylgamyn was a tough game, but it was also a popular one often named along with Ultima as one of the best during the 80s. Despite Sir-Tech’s audience-centric titles that weren’t so much inclusive as they were expansions to the very first game started by Robert Woodhead and Andrew Greenberg, or that they didn’t strive so much towards the kind of sweeping changes that its rivals were keen to develop within their own games, adventurers were more than willing to throw on their best hauberk and buckle their best blade and jump right back into the Maze every time.

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