SwordQuest FireWorld

By Raymond Dimetrosky (Electronic Fun November 1982 pg 67)


It's clear the reviewer didn't even see FireWorld let alone play it, especially since the game wasn't released until February 1983.


By Jim Gorzelany (JoyStik July 1983 pg 59)



By Phil Wiswell (Video Games April 1983 pg 77,81)



By Dan Persons (Video Games November 1983 pg 74)



By Scott Stilphen


FireWorld is basically more of the same, only without most of the graphical treatments from EarthWorld.  Gone is the amazing title screen, replaced by an attract mode that cycles through all the doorways and skill tests.  The 4-color character you controlled in EarthWorld is now 1-color (black), making him look less like a man and more like a robot... or maybe he's been sunburned to a crisp from being in FireWorld too long.  Walking to another doorway still offers the same 1st-person POV effect, but instead of random sounds, you get a single tone.  The dark, rich colors of EarthWorld have been replaced by light, overly-bright colors, making some of the skill tests rather hard to see.  It seems programmer Tod Frye's garish color choices with Pac-Man spilled over onto FireWorld.

There are only 10 rooms this time around.  3 of the magical objects have been replaced (key, lamp, and necklace with oil lamp, shield, and Chalice), but all 16 are available.  The oil lamp icon looks very similar to the water icon, so it's easy to confuse the two.  There are 6 different skill tests; every room features one and none can be skipped, although 5 of them can be made easier with the right objects.  If you take too many hits, you end up back in the doorway screen.  The easiest, Deadly Snakes, involves shooting multi-colored snakes that slowly crawl across a screen that reminds me of the Bleak Zone in Vanguard, albeit a very poor one.  Your character now looks like a winged bird (again, solid black in color).  In the Flaming Fire Goblins test, you control a multi-colored box and must catch as many falling goblins as you can ala Kaboom.  In Flaming Hot Knives test, you must steer falling knives into a stationary pit (ala Kaboom).  In the Flaming Firebirds and Jawing Salamanders tests, you must steer a vertical line (yes, a simple line) through falling birds and spinning lines (or "salamanders" for those with really inventive imaginations).  In other words, it's yet another variation of Space Race.  In Fire-Breathing Dragons, you're basically playing Flaming Firebirds again, only this time they simply move back and forth and shoot at you, and you have the ability to shoot back at them.  None of the skill tests portray you as a human character, which was yet another odd choice.  With the exception of Deadly Snakes, these skill tests are quite glitchy and get increasingly harder the further into the game you progress, and ultimately do nothing but test your patience.  Once again we have a "game" that's filled with mini-games - none of which that are particularly fun to play.  Even walking around is somewhat glitchy as your character tends to occasionally 'stick' to walls.  Tod Frye confessed at the 2015 Portland Retro Gaming Expo that SwordQuest FireWorld is the game he's most ashamed of because "I just banged it out so fast.  I didn't tune any of the games." (why someone would sabotage their own vision for something like SwordQuest is anyone's guess, but then again he's also admitted more than once that he was under the influence of illegal drugs during his time at Atari).

Solving this game requires you to first place an object in one room, and 4 objects in another.  You're not given a free clue this time around, and considering the complexity involved with finding any clues, it would have been nice to at least see what the special clue screen looked like beyond the screenshot in the manual.  According to the manual, "After completing the skill and action sequences, you, like Torr and Tarra, shall gain wisdom, mercy, power, understanding, and perhaps valuable prizes as well."  No.  No, you won't.  Instead, you'll be crying for mercy, because once again all you would have needed to solve the correct phrase to enter the contest was the comic book.  The game is truly worthless in this case, because the numerical clues in the game have no meaning or relevance to the comic book at all!  There are 10 clues, numbered sequentially from 00 to 09.  The manual claims they refer to the comic book and hints that clue 05 could mean look on page 5 for a clue.  Trust me, they don't.  Tod Frye might know, but he hasn't said anything in the following decades about it.  Even the FireWorld clue from EarthWorld doesn't seem to have any meaning.  On top of that, the special clue screens aren't nearly as special, and resemble the effects you see when your tank is hit in Battlezone or Robot Tank.  I suppose that's appropriate, given the financial hit people took buying it, but shouldn't something that's supposed to be an important moment in the game look more like fireworks and less like my system is shorting out?  Finally, you don't receive the Chalice after solving the game, like how you received the Warrior's Sword in EarthWorld.  It would have been nice for at least a small payoff such as that, plus it would have been more faithful to the comic.  Overall, the game ultimately just comes off as unfinished.

For more SwordQuest information, check out the SwordQuest Archive of Adventure and SwordQuest Revisted pages.


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