11: Willow

Genre: Action RPG

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Year: 1989

Basic Idea: Defeat Bavmorda and save Elora Danan, though not quite like Ron Howard envisioned.

Review: A game that more or less plays like Link to the Past, Willow is a fine adventure marred only by some uninspiring landscapes and enemies (with some fun but mostly easy bosses).  Playing as the title character, your job is to travel from town to town, meeting up with characters from the movie like Franjean and Rool, save Fin Raziel and Madmartigan, turn Sorsha against her mother, and then take on Bavmorda.  Along the way you will take on a few other miscellaneous tasks and fight some bosses, all while upgrading weapons and shields, and learning spells.  There are definitely some unique spells that fit the theme of the game and are fun to use.  One of my favorites is a spell that can turn stronger enemies into weaker ones…maybe.

What I enjoy about this game is that you never have to buy anything.  Everything you need can be either found, given to you, or learned from others.  What I don’t enjoy about this game is the level-building.  Now, the game isn’t terribly difficult, so there’s no need for endless level-building in order to defeat enemies.  But in order to defeat Bavmorda, you must turn Fin Raziel back into a human.  To do this, you must be at a level that’s far beyond where you actually need to be to defeat Bavmorda.

While there’s little about the game that is memorable, the game has charm in spades.  It helps that the characters use better English than in most NES games, but the characters themselves tend to be more distinct and have their own motivations.  If you like the Zelda games, there’s a good chance you’ll like Willow as well.

7 thoughts on “11: Willow”

  1. Fun game with a good and sometimes creepy atmosphere and music. Weren’t the bosses in black/white in contrast to the surroundings? That was creepy for some reason. Just like the movie there was that field of footballs we later figured out were mouths in the ground.

    But I will forever curse Willow for sending the ring of Bogarda’s cave into a realm where evil (and I) could not touch her! Put hours and hours into the game and then find out near the end I do not have a ring in my possession (found very early in the game) I need to win the game. The only way I could be even at that point in the game is if I have the ring, because you can’t get past Bogarda’s cave without it! Willow cannot backtrack to the cave to get it either so I was screwed.

    I still don’t know if it was a glitch or as the result of a poorly written password at some point that worked aside from changing my inventory a little. I had to live vicariously through you and mom playing instead.


    1. I just played it a couple of weeks ago. There are no parts of the game that remain inaccessible. However, if I recall, the cartridge/password glitched and when you went back to the cave the ring was at, it was gone because the password assumed you had it when you didn’t.

      Yes, there is a black & white boss, but not all of them are. While many of the enemies were kind of dull, the bosses were creepy.

  2. Ryan, get over the ring already! You are still pouting because your Mom won this game and you didn’t!

    That aside, I LOVED this game!!! One feature I really liked regarding the boss battles was the side by side life meters, so you could always tell how much life energy you had left and how much the enemy had left And I found much memorable about the game, heck, I still remember the name of some of the characters which is unusual for me. Guess it’s just my kind of game!

  3. I don’t know if I would have remembered this game even existed. I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie at the time and haven’t seen it since, but color me intrigued by the game as a result of it being so high here.

    Reading your review made me laugh and remember one thing I found tedious about the movie – the overwrought, ridiculous character names. The easiest way to tell if a fantasy writer is overcompensating is to read the list of characters. They seem like the kind of names a person uses when they make fun of the fantasy genre.

    1. Ha. Sorsha and Willow are fine, but the rest are definitely overwrought. Meanwhile, The Princess Bride has less annoying names, though Vizzini is a bit of a mouthful.

      1. And, funny enough, if The Princess Bride had used them, I think it would have been okay because the whole thing’s a genre spoof to some degree.

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