Windwalker – Press release

New posts on here are like hens teeth these days but I have promised myself that I’ll try to post something at least once a week so I’ll put in a token effort at least. I was supposed to be playing Ultima 7 SNES by now and you can blame Skyrim for distracting me from that. I picked it up in the Steam Xmas sales and it’s proved to be the first Elder Scrolls game that has held my interest after the early stages. Whenever I manage to finish it, I’ll be starting Ultima 7.

Prior to that I’ve been playing a few of the games I backed in the early Kickstarter frenzy some of which are finally starting to deliver. Broken Age was decent but a slight let down I thought. I’ve definitely played better adventure games that have come out in recent years on smaller budgets and it wasn’t quite what I expected from a Tim Schafer game. My favourite game that I backed to come out of Kickstarter so far has been Spud’s Quest which is a platform adventure in the style of the Dizzy games. It might not be as appreciated by those who don’t have any fond memories for the Dizzy series but you can’t go that far wrong at $8.00. Also on the Kickstarter front my Quest For Glory/Hero U meep arrived and set up home this week:-


To get to the point of this post, I thought I’d dig out another Origin press release and the first I found was for Windwalker from September 1989. I get the impression that Origin were targeting the more mature gamer with this taking quite a serious tone and describing the game as both a physical and intellectual challenge (presumably referring to the arcade fighting sections and RPG components):-

Windwalker Press Release Front Windwalker Press Release Back

Windwalker Review – PC Leisure

This is a short review of Windwalker from Issue 1 of PC Leisure magazine (Spring 1990). This was the first UK magazine entirely devoted to non productive uses of PC’s, although that didn’t mean just games and it was only quarterly.

The review is harsh giving the lowest possible score, although I can’t remember liking the game too much myself. Moebius wasn’t entirely awful but it really didn’t deserve a sequel.


Day 49

The dragon was exactly where I had seen him before so I cast my invisibility and water walk spells…

and stole one of his scales. The shaman made me my invulnerability spell and suddenly the game gets a whole lot easier.

I head for the imperial palace. The guards let me straight in wearing my robe.

In the palace I find a scroll by the evil alchemist with all sorts of clues. There are details of the poison used on the emporer and it also tells me how to meet the god of luck but this only happens on a full moon. Finally I learn that the evil alchemist travels through a mirror to the astral plain on the new moon so if I destroy the portal then it will trap him in there.

First its time to deal with the evil warlord.

No doubt this would be tough if I didn’t have the invulnerability spell…

..but with it hes down in no time.

For some reason I let him recover, run off and sail away threatening to return. No doubt a hint at a sequel that (thank god) never happened.

The evil alchemist hangs out in front of his portal. As long as I take a sidestep before walking into his room he doesn’t even notice  me. I sleep in the room until he disappears through the portal with a flash.

Then cast the exorcise spell I learned right back at the start of the game. This destroys the portal.

He’s trapped at the other side but still manages to corrupt the shrines. That would be another job to do then. Thats both the games main baddies polished off anyway. Now I just need to heal the emporer.

I go down to see the medicine man to get an antidote for the emporer but get nowhere as I needed to copy the scroll of the evil alchemist so its another trip back to the palace.

While I’m there I start gathering ingredients. There is some jade hidden in the throne.

In the warlords bedroom is another ingredient.

There is a nubian princess downstairs. Using the foreign language scroll, I get some jasmine tea from her which is another ingredient.

I get the scroll copied and since I’m on the way past have a go at freeing a shrine. Not freeing it was causing my robe to burn so I’m kind of forced into the job even though its not part of the main quest. All I have to do is cast exorcise and aim at the possessed monk.

 Something I should mention in that the levelling up in this game doesn’t seem to be based on combat. I only ever levelled up after peforming tasks like freeing shrines, killing the warlord, etc. You don’t meet any harder enemies in the game at any point either ao by the end I was killing them in about 2 or 3 hits. This seems a strange way of doing things as it makes the start of the game such a pain.

Now I have the scroll, the medicine man sends me in search of another medicine man….

Before I go for that I go for another ingredient. There is a cave full of thieves with a trapped explorer in it on one of the groups of islands.

I kill off the thieves and he rewards me with some gold dust.

Thats 4 out of 5 ingredients. I can only get the last ingredient (the peach seed) at the full moon so I head back to find the 2nd medicine man. I hand him the scroll of introduction the 1st one gave me and he sends me off to his shop to get a scroll with the antidote recipe.

Since I’m using a walkthrough I already knew this recipe, but I need a copy of the scroll anyway so I go to the shop and do this. Thats everything in place except the seed.

The new moon is a long way off so I sleep away a few days then head back to the Isles of the Dead.

At midnight the panda guarding the tree turns into the god of luck who blesses me and gives me the seed.

Back to the medicine man again, he takes the ingredients and heads back to his hut.

I follow behind, sleep for a bit and then he hands me the medicine.

The emperor is in the jail. I give him the antidote and it triggers the endgame.

Its a pretty poor end sequence. It hardly adds to what there was of the plot but its about as good as I would have expected given the rest of the game. I didn’t enjoy its predecessor Moebius – I think this game was worse. It certainly didn’t improve upon the faults of the original and removed a few of the better aspects of it. Knights of Legend had more going for it than this but the combat in that game was much, much worse than here so this was more fun overall.

I don’t get the combat in this game. Just like Moebius there are only about 4 different opponents and they are all equal difficulty from the moment you start the game. An RPG for me should have a variety of opposition and you can’t attempt certain areas until you become strong enough. You can even make a case for stronger opponents as you level up although I’m not keen on that either. This is worse than either option. If you take the effort to really learn the game and level up a lot you will end up having a really easy time of it, just when you don’t need the help since you have been playing the game for ages.

The other things that I didn’t like were just simple gameplay mechanics. Movement is too slow. The storms that make me constantly have to wait every time I try to sail anywhere are unbelievably annoying. Finally the plot of the game went nowhere – this game offered no more plot than Moebius which is just unforgivable this many years on. The manual lists a bibliography of books that were used to research the culture and the like. Very little of this comes across in the game and it was pretty much wasted effort as far as I am concerned.

Rather than attempting to extract my copy off 5.25 inch disks, I just downloaded it from where they rate it 5 out of 5 so I guess there is no accounting for taste. Windwalker isn’t utterly awful but it just isn’t any fun, my rating would be more like 2 out of 5. Still, its another one over with and I can get onto some decent games now.

I’m a bit undecided as to the next game. I’m trying to work through a year at a time and this is the last 1989 game so its 1990 next. Bad Blood would have been the next one but it was re-released in 1994 in VGA with a few other updates. Thats the version I will be playing so I guess I may leave it until I get to that year. I don’t really want to jump 4 years ahead then back again. That leaves me either Ultima 6 or Wing Commander.

Not exactly a bad couple of games to have to choose between I have to say. Both classics in their own right but I’ve had a whole string of RPG’s it seems during the 80’s. I think I’d enjoy Ultima 6 more if I had a change first so next up is probably Wing Commander.

Day 48

I went back for another go on Windwalker last night and as soon as I loaded it up, my savegame was gone and I was right back at the beginning of the game. I’ve no idea what this was about, but I started over again and it didn’t take too long to get to the same spot again.

The next stop was to go to train at a monastery to become a monk – this gets me a robe and staff. If the training is anything to go by the staff makes the combat a lot easier as I can hit people while they are out of range. To get to this monastery I had to beat two assassins guarding the entrance however. This took a ludicrous number of attempts. I’ve resorted to some minor cheating at this point – I don’t have any details for savegame editing but I used cheat engine to hack my karma so I can put it back up to 10 whenever I like. I presume it will get better when I level up but the combat is a joke. I die in a couple of hits and I’m having to hit these guys about 15-20 times. I didn’t want to cheat in another game but this is pretty minor so it doesn’t worry me too much – this will be the last game I cheat in, honest.

Eventually I get past these assassins and into the monastery. This has a load of silent monks walking around who won’t speak to me + one older monk. Before I talk to him I head to the top floor and read all the scrolls in the library.

Theres all sorts of background information up here, quite a bit of it will blatantly be useful later in the game like a Nubian language phrasebook.

When I talk to the old monk he says I can join their order if I follow the routine for a whole day.

Following this routine consists of running around after the old guy for the whole day, meditating and the like. These monks have a lifestyle about as interesting as Windwalker itself. Anyway, I follow them round all day and the next morning, I’ve passed the test and now have to fight my self to conquer my inner demons.

This turns out to be the single easiest fight I’ve had which shouldn’t surprise me given that everyone else can beat me up just as easily.

Aside from getting the robe and staff, Moebius also pops up to finally raise me a level. There seems to be a minor copy protection thing going on here where he asks me the name of the order I’m about to join. These are all printed out in the manual. I’m now a member of the order of the badger which probably isn’t something to admit to in public.

I’m going to need some striped sea turtle shells for the next section of the game, which I can buy from the fisherman in the first village. I wait for the morning and follow him when he sails out until hes caught some shells and buy 4 of them off him.

There is a shaman in the isles of the dead right at the top of the map who can use a shell and 4 particular items to create 4 talismans. These mean I can cast spells in effect so the next stage is to get these four talismans.

The Isles of the Dead are surrounded by storms. These are another test of my patience. What happens is everything is frozen while its raining and thunderbolts randomly appear on the screen one at a time along with a digitised sound. If one hits you and they invariably do you lose a load of health. Sitting through one of these storms takes about 30 seconds, and I’d swear that sailing around the islands you barely get any distance before you run into another.

I have a huge supply of blessed incense to heal up after these, but even that takes a while. You have to watch your health tick back one at a time while the incense burns along the bottom of the screen. Just starting the game up takes ages – every stat on the right of the screen ticks on one at a time for no reason whatsoever other than to wind me up.

I find the cave pretty easily and get two of the talismans made with the heron feathers and the blind mans shoe. The next chore is to seek out a water beetle, sneak up on it with my newly acquired invisibility spell and get one of its mandibles.

Sailing around these islands with the constant storms looking for one of these things takes quite a bit of time. Eventually I do actually find one, cast my invisibility and steal its mandible. Its then back to the shamans again, and he makes me the water walk talisman.

The next talisman involves using both invisibility and water walk to sneak up on a water dragon but that can wait for tomorrow. I did see one of these while I was looking for the beetle so I know where to look at least. This will net me an invincibility talisman at which point the walkthrough says the game is pretty much over as the spell lasts a long time and you can use it to gain enough money that the incense to raise your spirit back up is not a problem.

Day 47

I’ve made a start on Windwalker. I can’t say I’m too taken with it – the game plays like a slightly updated version of Moebius. The updates are pretty minimal really and its hard to see all that much difference. The adlib support is also  minimal although there are also digitised sounds used in the game which is a first for Origin. Music is limited so far to the introduction + a short tune at the end of combat. Digital samples aren’t used all that much but you get grunts when you hit people.

Speaking of the combat, this has got a lot harder this time around. One of the blessings of the first game was that the combat part was dead easy so it didn’t slow me down much. Things are a lot harder here – to add insult to injury the game effectively uses a lives system where you lose 1/10th karma if you die. Lose it all and thats the end of your game and you have to start from scratch. If you decide to restart the game after a battle you lost to get around this, you automatically lose karma anyway as there is some checking mechanism involved when the game reloads. I’ve had to restart once already because of this but will be more careful from here on out – basically it comes down to accepting that the thief has just stolen all your money if you lose a battle, or attempting to escape from prison if a guard beats you.

Movement is once again fairly painfully slow, but I get the impression the games world is going to be a bit smaller this time. I haven’t got the patience to do anything other than follow a walkthrough to the end with this game anyway and that walkthrough looks promisingly short. I’m glad to say, this is the only game left in the entire catalogue that I don’t actually want to play through so after this it should be good all the way. I must have played 90%+ of the remaining Origin titles at least at some point even if I haven’t finished them and I can’t think of a bad one in there. Particular highlights on the way for me include Martian Dreams, the two Underworlds, the two Crusader games, Bioforge and pretty much the whole Wing Commander series. The prospect of playing some of them is keeping me going through the likes of this.


To get back to Windwalker, the game starts with quite a nice intro, where you are practicing some moves and some shadowy figure transforms your giant statue into a skeleton. The VGA graphics here are not bad at all and a big step up from anything I’ve seen yet. The intro doesn’t give you any of the backstory, which to be brief is along the lines of evil warlord deposes the emperor and you have to put him back again.

Moebius appears and gives me the option of training or venturing forth. I have a go at some training. There are two gameplay modes for the combat here, one of which is like your typical kung fu game, the other has the opponent unable to move until you do, so is turn based. There seem to be more varied options in the combat than the last game but there aren’t any more of them. I can do stuff like a cartwheel which kicks my opponent at the end. The animation is really basic though – the cartwheel move uses about 3 frames of animation so its not exactly smooth. Combat comes down to choosing the right move for the distance you are from your opponent as far as I can tell.

In all honesty, I’ve never been that keen on martial arts games. I’ve had some fun on the likes of Street Fighter, One Must Fall and Mortal Kombat over the years but probably spent more time just trying out moves I got off the internet than anything else. This is obviously trying to be more tactical than those but its less fun. I would rather play Ye Ar Kung Fu in fact if anyone remembers that one.

I get bored with the training pretty rapidly and venture forth into the world. This uses a really strange perspective. Moebius, used an isometric display long before any of Origins other games. This takes it a bit further and does a 3D sort of effect which is very hard to describe. Basically things on the top of the map appear from the top up so you might see the top of a tree before the bottom of that tile is really visible. To make things odder still the background represents the time of day and sort of scrolls along as a 2D graphic so you get sunsets, etc.. To finish off the oddness you still have the giant heads representing characters. Why go to the length of making a pseudo 3D world in an attempt for some realism then have giant disembodied heads wandering around it to ruin the effect?

The characters in the game have a bit more to say this time around. There isnt a keyword system, the game just remembers what you have learned and you select it off a list. This all works well and is probably the best developed system in any of the games I’ve played so far.

You start the game on a tiny little island with a few houses, 1 shop and one temple. I buy a load of incense in the shop.

In the temple is a scroll with instructions on how to use the incense. Basically get it blessed by a monk and you can use it to heal, or regain honor, etc..

I quickly run out of things to do, so get a boat and sail off. One of the islands has a house on it with the above scroll and a map of the world. The scroll gives me a clue about an invisibility talisman I can make with a turtle shell and a blind mans shoe. As luck would have it there is a blind man outside the merchants shop.

On the way back, I see a heron flying around. If I wait for it to land I can steal some feathers which I know the merchant will buy so I steal these repeatedly.

The merchant buys my feathers so I’m now rich (ish). While I’m here I buy the blind beggars shoe.