I was on YouTube recently and I watched a speedrun for Awesome Games Done Quickly (AGDQ). For those who do not know, speed running is when players, using a variety of tips and tricks, “run” through a game as quickly as they can; sometimes special conditions are applied to the run, other times not. Regardless, tonight, I watched a gamer run an old NES video game called Wizards and Warriors.
As I watched the runner speed his way through the simple, vertical-based environments, I was reminded of my own childhood playing similarly simple, albeit very challenging, video games. Seeing the platforming of this title and the gem collecting, I wondered abstractly if this was the sort of game I would have liked as a child.
Thinking about it, it had all of the bells and whistles– knights, enemies to slay, a quest to fulfill. The gameplay looks simple enough, though I have no doubt it had its areas of difficulty; honestly, it looks like a knightly-fantasy version of a Mario game (complete with smashing items with your head for points). As a game, it is very quaint and its medieval aesthetic a nice throwback to a time when all a game needed was straightforward sword and sorcery for the win.
Regardless of how child-me would have played it, the game’s simplistic, and it should be said chauvinistic attitude of “brave knight saving kidnapped women while fighting monsters,” is nonetheless a homely throwback to reactionary understandings of medievalism of (the late 80s) old.
I will never play this game. But I commented on it anyway because it reminded me that you do not need an epic presentation to fire the imagination of young lads earning for adventure; if kid me would have liked role-playing as a brave knight fighting monsters, then that should be enough to remind people that medieval narratives of honor do not have to have flashy graphics to ensnare the vulnerable mind.
Okay, a little over-the-top, but the idea holds. Whether it is the throwback game that apes the graphics processors or old or an actual old game like this one, the story of “knight saving helpless princess,” is one that can be told without epic Hollywood-sized budgets.