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Wizardry Franchise Returns After 10 Years

After a ten-year absence, the Wizardry franchise-- which was originally launched by publisher Sir-Tech back in 1981-- is finally making a return in Spring 2011.

The original Wizardry, now dubbed as the "Granddaddy of RPGs," made a huge impact on gaming when it launched in 1981 for the Apple II. The game was one of the first titles to use grid-based dungeon crawling gameplay. It was also reportedly the first to introduce a first-person perspective within a game although Maze War and Spasim have been noted to offer the first-person visuals prior to Wizardry. The overall series established a basic and classic command-driven battle system with still images of monsters to fight.

The last Wizardry title to appear on the market was the highly-popular Wizardry 8 back in 2001 for Microsoft Windows which actually served as the third chapter to the series' Dark Savant trilogy (which included Wizardry 6 and 7). And while the release of a new addition may be good news to long-time fans, there's a dark side to the story. In fact, long-time Wizardry fans may just want to kiss the old franchise goodbye and consider the new installment a reboot of the entire IP.

Here's why. For starters, Sir-Tech is no longer the publisher, handing the reigns over to XSEED Games. Secondly, the new Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls game isn't coming to the PC, Mac or even Linux-- it's arriving on the PlayStation Network. That's right, it's console-bound. If that wasn't disappointing enough, this version won't be like any other Wizardry title before it (although it seems to retain the old-school RPG gameplay), offering up Anime/Manga-style characters instead of the traditional designs conjured up by artists here in the States.

Yet despite the new look, the new platform and the new publisher, XSEED Games promises that the new installment (or reboot) will follow the "grand tradition" of the Wizardry series. "Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls features a deceptively simple game system complementing deep and involving dungeon designs," the company said Wednesday. "Hardcore RPG fans will find an extensive and grueling 1st-person 3D grid-based dungeon crawl experience rendered in high-definition with hand-drawn characters and sprites by famous commercial artist Yuki Hayabusa. Players will develop a party of up to six members culled from a rich mix of five races and eight classes, and prepare to encounter over 120 different monsters."

Little else is known about the new game save for that it was developed by ACQUIRE and previously released in Japan under the name Wizardry: Torawareshi Tamashii no Meikyū (Dungeon of Imprisoned Souls). XSEED Games said it will share more information about the new installment in the coming weeks. Maybe PC gamers will see the game later on in the year...? Will PC gamers even care?