Sunday, 26 May 2013

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (C64), 1982 or 1987?

I know I've been quiet during the last month but I had to reorganize my entire archive and all the process is taking ages. Along with that, I've been working on a big project for this blog, which, I hope, will be published soon.  

Regarding this opera magna I'm working on, I've stumbled into a really worrying case of CRPG incorrect year dating.

As you have noticed from the post title, the game we are talking about is Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord for C64 and its release date. As you will see from below, most of the main videogame databases online, report inconsistent release date for this game, dating it from 1982 to 1987, which is a quite big gap.

Lemon64: 1982.
Gamebase64: 1982.
Ready64: 1982.
MobyGames: 1987.

We have a problem here, a very big one. 

Since a started to check all the CRPGs datations on the online databases, I have noticed that many of them are wrong or better, are referring to the copyright date rather than the actual release period. Looking at this specific case I might immediately say that Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord has been effectively released for Apple II on the 1981/1982 (original copyright) and then ported to C64 only into the 1987 (release date). 

Why cannot be 1982? 
Now, let's start thinking that the Commodore 64 machine has been released only in the middle of 1982 and the standard of the released games was more or less basic language oriented. Since Wizardry is a quite structured and complex game, it doesn't fit with the rest of the 1982 Commodore production; but let's take it as a personal assumption for the moment. 

Anyway, let's get a bit more into actual proofs. 

Exploring the box shots of Wizardry I for C64, here's what I've discovered.

Front Box: Copyright 1981-1987

Back Box: Copyright 1981-1987

Disk: Copyright 1987

Reference Card: Copyright 10/1987

According to the reference Card and Game Disk, the copyright of the Commodore 64 is version clearly set to 1987. All the references to 1981 are probably just about the original copyright of Wizardry so 1982 cannot be the release date for this porting.

Wizardry is just one the many cases of misdating I've found in the last months. Almost all the main C64 databases contain many incorrect release dates for major and minor CRPGs released between the early eighties and part of the nineties; and you can notice that especially when you find yourself in front of many C64 games dated at 1979, which, of course, is more than paradoxical. 


  1. Weird! Seems like the guys compiling those wrong database just took a cursory look at the games' boxes and wrote down the first year they stumbled upon.

    1. I kind comprehend that when you have thousands of titles in a database, is difficult to get everything right. What really I don't understand anyway, is why three major databases got the release date wrong of such an important title. My fear is that we will end up having big databases with inaccurate specifications.

    2. Maybe these database should open themselves to the contribution of a worldwide community, like Wikipedia does.

      Having thousands, maybe millions, of contributors makes the statistic series converge towards a more accurate result, pushing errors to the series' side.

    3. In most cases, those database entries will likely have been based on game files, not on any box shots. That the box or any other material was available back then is a big assumption itself.

      However it begs the question, why nobody bothered to correct the mistake in this case to this day.

      I think Lemon64 isn't actively maintained anymore, at least I read something indicating that in the forum once. There are a couple of comments at the Wizardry entry of the site pointing out the mistake.

      Gb64 has a forum where you can find a thread explictely devoted to corrections, and there probably other channels for contact.

      I'm not familar with Ready64.

      Moby has it right. Maybe it was different at one point.
      Everybody is free to register there and submit an entry for a new (C64) game. You need to provide a source, and using the copyright as a reference is completely sufficient. It is very unlikely that an approver will do his own research to see if this is consistent with any other material related to the game, insofar it even exists.

      A registered contributor can submit corrections, but those take a very long time (often years) for various reasons.

      Other sites have their own problems. E.g. I recently did a date correction at wikipedia, which was reverted by someone who thought that multiple google hits for a certain given date would trump my source.
      I quickly could tell from the sites listed this was nonsense.
      It's obvious (and some extent understandable) that many people have problems to put sources in context and assess crediblity.

      Try Gamefaqs for example - completely unrealiable for C64 releases in my view. For console releases, the database seems much more reasonable.