Wizard of Wor

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Artist's mock-up of a Wizard of Wor screen as found on the back of an early version of the VIC-20 Canadian & U.S. box.

“Wizard of Wor” is perhaps one of the most famous instances of vapour-ware for the Commodore VIC-20. The game was never released by Commodore as a VIC-20 cartridge although it was mentioned as an upcoming release early in the VIC-20’s history. A screen mock-up even appears on the back of one version of the VIC-20’s Canadian and U.S. packaging.

A VIC-20 cartridge rarity list by Ward Shrake & Paul Le Brasse has the following to say about Wizard of Wor for the VIC-20:

“...[collector] Brent Santin's third-party Sep 1982 promotional catalog lists "Wizard of Wor" and "Dog Patch" as soon to be released, as of September 1982. An ad in the Commodore-produced magazine "Power Play" (vol 1, no 1, pg 29) confirms that "Wizard of Wor" was planned and "coming soon". How far these were developed, we do not know? It seems the release of the Commodore 64 put an end to the development of these carts, but they might have been completed before being abandoned? We know that "Wizard of Wor" was released on the C64 as a cartridge. When you plugged that cartridge into Commodore's new "Magic Voice" add-on device, it had audible speech. "Dog Patch" would have been a home port of a 1977 arcade game. What complicates things is that a competing home computer called the Bally Home Arcade system -- modern retrogamers call it the Bally Astrocade -- definitely had both of these games. We don't know what the timing of these events are, so we can't speculate on what event came before or after any other? It gets cloudier when you know that Bally sold the rights to their computer to Astrovision, but that they also apparently made agreements of some kind with Commodore, at some point? I would not rule out finding a VIC-20 version of "Wizard of Wor" but I would not bet on a Vic version of "Dog Patch". (But who knows?)"

Many of the very first cartridges released for the VIC-1001/VIC-20 in Japan were direct ports of arcade games distributed by Bally (Galaxian, Rally-X & Pac-Man for example). It seems reasonable that the Bally game Wizard of Wor could have been included in any license deal with Commodore. It is not known, however, why Wizard of Wor was never released or if any code was ever written.

It is interesting to note that a major aspect of the game-play in Wizard of Wor was the ability for two players to compete or co-operate simultaneously. Since the VIC-20 only has one joystick port, it would have been interesting to see if and how this simultaneous gameplay would have been implemented.

Wizard of Wor was eventually released by Commodore as a cartridge for the Commodore 64 computer.

Page 1 of Lantz Electronic's 1982 catalogue (page 2 mentions the upcoming availability of "Wizard of Wor" for the VIC-20.
Page 2 of Lantz Electronic's 1982 catalogue listing the upcoming availability of "Wizard of Wor" for the VIC-20.
Page 3 of Lantz Electronic's 1982 catalogue for the VIC-20.
Page 4 of Lantz Electronic's 1982 catalogue for the VIC-20.

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