Who doesn’t like Willow? It had all the prerequisites for greatness. A crazy movie set in a bizarre fantasy world? Check. Licensed toys and books? An opportunity to make a quick buck by cashing in on a movie license? Oh, check!

The NES Willow game is an action role-playing game. You take Willow on his quest to rid the land of evil. Sounds pretty typical. Inexplicably, all the information that I could find at the time seemed to indicate that this was a good game. I sat down and began playing, and wasn’t particularly impressed or disappointed. Although, I must admit it was a fantastic effect to have the wind blow through the trees and grass every time an enemy appeared, since we all know that our enemies will never appear without the accompaniment of a slight breeze. This was offset by Willow’s proficiency with a sword, or lack of. I’m not sure if the sword just weighed a couple hundred pounds, or if it was magically enchanted to increase wind resistance, but I certainly got the impression that each move Willow made with his sword was calculated and deliberate (read: slow) to conserve energy.

Oh, and the acorns. You could throw the magic acorns that turn things to stone. Wonderful.

I started the game a dozen or more times, each time getting slightly further, eventually making it to the first boss encounter… where I died. If you die in Willow, it’s Game Over. No problem. You can save, kind of. Unlike most games that span around a dozen or more hours this game does not use a battery-backed save system, it uses passwords. Not so bad if you don’t lose the scrap of paper you scrawled the password on, which I did all the time, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that the font that the Willow developers decided to use has these ridiculous serifs on them. These serifs combined with the questionable television quality I had to deal with make the normal text hard to read and the passwords indecipherable. Every time I got a password I would write it down twice. Once as the letters I thought I was seeing and once drawing each letter as if it were a tiny picture instead of a letter. Both of these methods failed. To this day I have not been able to successfully input a password correctly, and so the depths of the Willow universe realized in NES form have yet to be plumbed.

Play at your own risk.

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