Console: Commodore 64

Date Released: 1984

Date Reviewed: January 11th 2012

Reviewer: Jon

*The maps are drawn well for 1984
*Multiplayer for up to four friends
*A lot of difficulty options
*Keeps you busy for hours
*Aside from the Title menu and Map, the game is text only
*As much as I like the music themes of battle, they get really repetitive
*I am not sure if this game is possible to beat
Fortress of the Witch King is a game that was released in 1984.  Playing this game again brings back memories of me sitting on my bed watching my older brother play for hours.  I could have only been about three or four, but the memories are pretty clear.  The sounds of battle raged all night long as a warrior and his party attempted to invade the fortress of the mighty Witch King.  
Presentation : C

Graphics / Animation / Sound

Programmed by Dyadic Software, Fortress of the Witch King was one of the best text-based role-playing games on the Commodore 64.  Believe it or not there was quite a few of text-based games on this platform.  A lot of them were licensed games like Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Lord of the Rings.  As you may guess there really isn’t a whole lot to see in this game.  You have a world map which looks like an extremely pixellated close up.  The only distinguishing features of this map is different color squares.  It is pretty hard to look at it without cringing, but is still functional within the context of the game.  The mini map in the game is a zoomed in version that gives you a limited view of your surroundings.  This is pretty on par with more mainstream games for NES and the rest of the Commodore 64 library.  Once you move past the two map screens the remaining portions of the game are text only.

Single Player : B

Game mechanics / Length / difficulty

Like I stated before, the majority of the game is presented as text only.  You start out with the option to start a new game or continue a previously saved game.  Fortress of the Witch King provides you with seven save game slots so you should have plenty of storage space for your endeavors.  You then name your character, make sure you choose wisely because this adventure will probably last you for quite some time.  This option was the 1984 option to create a character by the way.  Things surely have come along way when compared to modern games like The Elder Scrolls series.  Once you have chosen your name you are asked what difficulty level you prefer.  You have four difficulty settings and make sure you choose this wisely.  (By wisely I mean choose difficulty one.)  Your last option in the pre-game screen would be map difficulty, which is rated 1-20.

The game-play can at times become routine, but once the thrill of loot collecting and army building sets in you will become hooked.  You are given the option to a set number of moves within a turn and how you use those turns are up to you.  This mechanic is familiar to most role-playing game players out there in the fact that every action you take uses up a turn.  You can move around the world map by going to the mini map screen and inputting the numerical value that corresponding with the desired direction.  As you move around the map you come across rivers, mountains, town, and sanctuaries.

When in towns you get the option to purchase rations, rafts, mules.  You also have the option to buy wizards, warriors, scouts, clerics and raiders.  Each of these have their own benefits and they all are needed if you are wanting to survive the journey.

As you progress along with mini map you will be thrown into random battles with various enemies.  This entire process is automated however you do get the option to run if not surprised and are able to retreat if you start to lose a battle.  The retreat option is actually valuable and comes in handy as a last resort when you start to see your forces start to diminish.  Fortress of the Witch King was and in a lot of ways still is an extremely addictive game.  Moving through the world, defeating armies, collecting loot and building your army can be a lot of fun.  Anyone who has enjoyed a dungeon crawler or role-playing game knows that part of the joy is strengthening your numbers.  This is necessary as the overall objective is to raid the Fortress ruled by the evil Witch King.

While this game can be a lot of fun and extremely addicting, once you invade the Fortress you will be attacked by an unbelievable amount of enemies.  I am not sure that the game is possible to even beat.  You can spend hours building an army worthy of conquering Middle Earth and get your ass handed to you once you enter the Fortress.  I am sure someone out there has beaten it, but once completed it is an achievement worthy of boasting.

Multiplayer :  A

Game mechanics / features / Online features

Big surprise is that this game supports multiplayer.  Not just two players, but four players can participate in the demise of the Witch King.  This is pretty sweet for a Commodore 64 game to be honest.  You each name your character and pick your difficulty.  Once you are in-game and completed all the actions for your turn then the game switches to the next player and things repeat.  I am unsure whether or not the games operate completely independent or affect each other later in the game.  I was never able to spend extensive game time with other players to investigate the depth of this feature.

Replay Value : B

Lasting appeal / Bonus Content / DLC

This game is a mixed bag as far as replay value goes.  On one hand it is extremely addicting and still a blast to accumulate a massive army, however going back to play this game it is easy to get bored with the text only nature.  The battles are fun to come across, but it all seems like an inevitable build up to your doom of dying in the Witch King castle.  I highly recommend giving this game a try if you are able to find it.  Any role-playing game fan would probably enjoy engaging in gathering armies and loot.

Overall : B

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