Version 2.1 of Wizardry for the Apple II came out just over 41 years ago, and even though it's been ported and remade a dozen times over, many of its bugs, quirks, and limitations persist in any available format.
Last week, Eric Labelle, aka Snafaru, author of longtime Wizardry & CRPG fanpage Zimlab, released an unofficial version 3.0, after months of painstaking effort fixing, rewriting, and recompiling ancient data tables and Pascal code, with information, ideas, feedback, and some testing by myself and a few others. Over 100 bugs, data errors, improvements, and even bits of restored missing content are present, making v3.0 practically the new definitive way to play.
A partial summary of what's new:
No more passwords! Something had to go to make room on the disks for all these fixes. We figured that nobody password-protects their characters any more, and removing all of the password-related code freed up some space.
Restored content! For quite awhile, bad disk images of Wiz1 were missing the miniboss encounter on level 4, and the infamous Deadly Ring you'd win as a prize. This is, of course, restored, but so is another miniboss on level 7, which to my knowledge has never been enabled in any official release! Also restored is an area of level 4, which now requires the formerly useless gold key to enter, and an Easter egg on level 6.
Maze tweaks! Nothing major here, a useless door removed here, some object placements adjusted for consistency there, one monster spawn table tweaked, some escape hatches added to pockets of empty space in case you accidentally MALOR your party there without a spare. We see similar tweaks going from earlier versions to v2.1, so these are much in the spirit of things.
Greater Demons are not your friends! We've all been there, encountering a group of "friendly" monsters who by all rights should want to rip your throat out. Some players have even encountered a friendly Werdna, which can ruin your game if you don't stab him in the back. No more of that nonsense - turns out this is a coding bug, and now some monsters will just never offer you a truce, as was intended.
Revised ninja class! Ninjas were meant to be glass cannons who could fight unarmed and unarmored with devastating results, but in practice, the bonuses from going zen just weren't worth it and you were much better off equipping with full gear, effectively becoming a low-HP fighter with critical hit capability. So we improved the incentives - the armorless AC bonus is tripled, the unarmed attack damage is doubled, and gains an initiative bonus that scales with level. Snap Werdna's scrawny neck with your bare hands before the round even starts! The stat requirements are lowered too, from 17 points in everything to 15. Equipping your ninja is still a valid choice; the boosted damage and AC rivals Boltac's finest gear, but even stronger gear can be found and can be equipped at the expense of the initiative bonus.
Spelling and grammar fixes! Many items and monsters' names had wrong or inconsistent spelling, or pluralization, or punctuation use. These have been extensively corrected, as well as errors in the script such as "mourge->morgue."
Corrected treasure tables! This is subtle, but the treasure tables always had an offset error, preventing some items from dropping and enabling some items to drop in lower treasure tiers than intended. We fixed these.
No more round 1 surprise slaughters! Getting surprised by spellcasters no longer means certain death, as spellcasting is disallowed, as in Wiz3 and most Wiz1 ports. So are breath attacks! But watch out for ninjas.
Fixed and rebalanced spells! Latumapic now identifies all of your enemies. Mamorlis lowers all enemies' AC. Haman and Mahaman have all seven possible effects. Montino's silencing effect now wears off over time - that goes for you and your enemies. Manifo paralyzes instead of just inflicting sleep status, and has an improved chance of working. Loktofeit's pathetic escape rate has been upgraded to work as often as it does in Wiz3.
More feedback! The battle engine now displays the names of spells being cast on you. Hit probability is displayed, too. Did you lose the treasure because your inventory is full, or because there's a limit of one per party? Now the engine will tell you instead of silently discarding the item.
The Bishop Bug fixed! Remember identifying '9' to grant millions of XP? Too bad! That won't work any more.
Stacking regeneration! Got two healing items? Now their effects stacks and heal you twice as much. On the flipside, the negative healing effect of the Deadly Ring actually harms you now instead of doing nothing. Poison is treated differently from negative healing, and poisonous attacks won't stack and make you more badly poisoned, but poison needle and gas bomb traps do.
Save vs. Wand fixed! Elves, bishops, and ninjas had an invisible saving throw bonus that did absolutely nothing. Now it saves against gas bomb chest traps.
Rear echelon monster protection! Aggressive monsters in Wizardry 1 can advance to the front rows, typically shielding spellcasters, but this actually makes them more vulnerable. This is reversed now.
There's more than the things I listed above - read the notes at Zimlab for the complete details. Or you could just download and play it, whether it's your first time or a replay.