Manufacturer: Bally Midway
Released: 1981
Designer: ?
Added to my collection: December 29, 2005
Sold: October 27, 2015


Description:

"Come back for more...with the Wizard of Wor. Ka ka ka ka."

Okay...the game didn't say "ka ka ka ka"--but the speech was pretty primitive, and the laugh sounded like "ka ka ka ka."

At any rate, the voice of the titular Wizard was one that I heard just about every day on my way home from school in the 80s. There were several video games along the route home--you could find video games just about anywhere in the early part of that decade. Dominic's Pizza had Missile Command. The Royal Farm convenience store had Pac-Man (I think). And Al & Fran's Delicatessen had Wizard of Wor.

My friends and I (especially my friend Andy) used to play one of the games every day, and Wizard of Wor was, by far, my favorite of the bunch. It's hard as hell as a single-player game. The AI--such that it was--controlled the other "worrior" for all of about 5 seconds before you were on your own. The enemies made pretty fast work of you after that. But with two humans at the helm, Wizard of Wor is one of the best cooperative multiplayer games of the era--right up there with Mario Bros.

The object: fight your way through an endless series of mazes against increasingly faster monsters, a mini-level boss named Worluck and, occasionally the Wizard himself. The game is hellishly fast and brutal--but if the two players cooperate and find good cover (most mazes have a place where you're almost certain to survive if you stand back to back), it's a real blast.

Back to the top.


My Machine

I had been casually looking for a Wizard of Wor to add to my collection for some time. I have only seen one at an auction (the November 7, 2005 auction, to be precise) and it wasn't working. The ones on eBay, while generally reasonable in price (usually around the $300 to $400 range), were always too far away to pick up. So, I waited.

In November, 2005, I got an e-mail from a collector in western Virginia who had a friend who had a project Wizard of Wor he was willing to sell. I jumped at the opportunity--even though the game is missing the monitor, the marquee (and the marquee light fixture, as it turns out), the bezel, and the back door. It was supposedly otherwise complete with working boards--but one board (a strange little RGB interface card that was only used in a few Midway games--Wizard of Wor, Gorf, and Robby Roto) was missing. I contacted the collector about the board and got it a couple of weeks later.

At any rate, I knew coming into this that I had a project on my hands. Other than the missing board and light fixture, everything else was there. I have an extra monitor I assembled for this machine, so that should (fingers crossed) work. The seller also gave me a spare back door which, when modified, should work nicely.

Reviving the Wizard--Playing Blind

I knew from the start that I had quite a project on my hands. When I got the game home (after a God-awful long drive), I assessed the situation. Nothing was connected, for starters. I downloaded the manual and schematics from Basement Arcade, and got everything hooked up. That's when I discovered I was missing the RGB Interface board.

While I was waiting for the original RGB board, I borrowed a board from Dave Grohowski, a local operator that I know, to see if I could get the game running. I put the monitor in the machine, but didn't hook it up immediately. I decided to see if the game would play "blind" first.

I plugged it in, pressed the switch and, other than a little crackling from the speakers, I got no response. The game wouldn't coin-up or do anything. Then, I smelled something. I went around to the back of the game and saw a black curl of smoke coming from somewhere near the bottom of the board cage. I quickly shut the machine off and unplugged it, certain I had fried the boards.

I pulled all of the boards from the board cage and checked them. Seeing no burn marks, I decided I should try replacing the power supply before I started sending things out for repair (my first inclination whenever I run into a problem involving smoke). I picked up a switching power supply conversion kit from Arcadeshop where I had purchased the power supply conversion kits for my other two Midway games (Spy Hunter and Bump 'n' Jump). I got the kit and installed it (takes about 10 minutes, really easy). I got everything hooked up (minus the monitor) and...nothing. I was really disappointed...then I realized that the back door switch wasn't engaged. (You have to pull the three-position switch to the out position if the door isn't there to press it in.) Still nothing. Then, I remembered that there was a similar switch on the bottom-front door. (The boards slide out the front of the game for easy access.) I pushed the lower door fully shut and I got sound! I pressed the 2-player start (I had set the switches to free play already) and the game fired up--not literally this time!

Now, How About a Picture?

Excited with my progress, I hooked up the monitor. The picture was rolling horizontally and vertically--and no amount of knob-turning made any difference. I correctly deduced that the monitor wasn't getting a proper sync signal. I traced the wires and they seemed right (based on other monitors I looked at for reference).

Finally, I got out the schematics and traced the connections there. There it was, big as day--the connector in the machine was improperly wired! A couple of snips and a couple of pieces of scrap wire, and I had rebuilt the harness between the RGB Interface board and the monitor. I started the game again--and I got a picture!

The only problem was that there was no red or yellow in the picture. Once again, the monitor adjustments had no effect. I swapped out RGB Interface boards (by now I had the original and the one I had borrowed). The second board had different color problems--better than the first (you could see the red as a muddy brown color) but still not great.

So, I had narrowed down the problem to the RGB Interface board...but my online research wasn't promising. That board tends to be rather hard to find because it was used in so few games--and it was often left in the cabinet if the game was converted to something else.

Luckily, my friends Anthony and James at Quarter Arcade happened to have tested, working RGB Interface boards in stock. I got the board in the mail, plugged it into the game, and...voila! The Wizard lives, and it plays like a champ!

Let There Be Light!

Light problems are usually the easiest. This time, since somebody had ripped the whole fixture out, it was a little more complicated. But it's still a simple fix if you aren't a stickler for originality.

I just bought a $15 18" florescent light fixture from Home Depot, screwed it into the top of the cabinet behind the marquee, and wired it into the existing wires. From no light to light in about 15 minutes. Easy stuff is good.

What's Left?

Now that the game is up and running, there are only a few little things remaining:

Back to the top


Wizard of Wor Technical Info:

DIP switch settings:

Wizard of Wor has one 8-switch bank on the main game board.

DIP Bank 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Coin 1 (left) 1 Coin / 1 Credit
off
2 Coins / 1 Credit
on
Coin 2 (right) 1 Coin / 1 Credit
off
off
2 Coins / 1 Credit
on
off
         
1 Coin / 3 Credits
off
on
         
1 Coin / 5 Credits
on
on
   
Language English
off
 
Foreign Language
on
 
Worriors Per Credit 1 Credit = 2 Worriors / 2 Credits = 5 Worriors        
off
     
1 Credit = 3 Worriors / 2 Credits = 7 Worriors        
on
     
Bonus Worrior Awarded After Third Dungeon          
off
   
After Fourth Dungeon          
on
   
Play Mode Coin Play            
off
 
Free Play            
on
 
Game Attraction Sounds Continuous              
off
When a control is touched              
on

Back to the top.



More Wizard of Wor Info:

Back to the top.