Oh, no! Something has happened on the planet of Pum! All the Wabbits have been disappearing, and now Wiz and his friend Liz must get them all back!
Wiz 'n' Liz is a cutesy, crazy little platformer game developed by Raising Hell Software (later Bizarre Creations) and published by Psygnosis. In it, you play as either Wiz (the wizard) or Liz (the witch), dashing about in a mad little dash across different lands, saving Wabbits and creating magic spells by collecting letters to form nonsensical words like "DIBBLE", "MACKLE", or "PONGO". Grabbing the letters forms a spell to reveal the exit door in each world, but you still need to grab a quota of Wabbits to actually open the door. In addition, you can also grab fruits from Wabbits; grabbing enough fruits to fill your Magic meter will send that collected fruit to the tree in the main hub. Additionally, you can grab stars to buy fruits at the shop, and stopwatches to extend your time meter. There's plenty to pick up, that's for sure!
So that's the core of the gameplay, but there's more! You begin in the main hub, which is the home of Wiz 'n Liz. Sitting outside their house is a cauldron, where you can throw in two fruits, which combine into a magic spell. Some can be hugely beneficial, like opening the shop or adding time to your clock (the latter is a huge, huge blessing, as your clock does not reset between stages), but some are downright silly, such as one spell that does... absolutely nothing! One spell also shows the sense of humor of the developers: your character suddenly dies and the game announces a Game Over, but seconds later drops your character back and says "Only kidding!" How many people probably didn't lose their cool right there, only to breathe a sign of relief when their character was safely dropped back into the stage as the game sheepishly announces it was joking? Wiz 'n' Liz is that kind of game, folks!
Anyway, you can either mix up a spell here, or enter a door to select a land to play and save Wabbits. There are different themes in each land, such as Desert, Lunar, Snow, Mine, etc. Once all of the lands are cleared and the Wabbits saved, players are taken to a boss fight. The boss fights play differently: holding the A button shoots out a beam of magic that homes in on the boss and damages it so long as it holds. Once the boss is defeated, you can go back and play all the worlds again, this time on a higher difficulty.
So what is it about this game that I love so much? For one, it's packed to the gills with content! The stages aren't too big, and there are no enemies or hazards, but they are fun to run though, and the different difficulty settings (which dictate your clock and if Wabbits can die during a stage, among other things) add tons of replay value. There are also a huge amount of minigames, such as a quiz where you can bet stars to try and earn more, or one where you can throw tomatoes at what appear to be caricatures of the desingers. The aforementioned jokes are abundant; this game has a very crazy sense of humor (and the developers probably didn't help things any! :P)
The graphics and animation are appropriately silly and cute. Wiz and Liz run about in a crazy mad dash, and the Wabbits have tons of loveable little animations. Watching them hop about, backflip occasionally, or even when they are killed and float away as little angels is enough to make a grown man say "D'awwww!" and want to reach out and hug the little pixels! Everything is so well animated, that even the small sprites can not detract from the wonderful animation. Grabbing Wabbits or items show little onomatopoeias like "ACE", "WIZ", "BOING", and more, and makes the environment even funnier and cuter. Backgrounds in each world are nicely designed and drawn, and even on the low color pallette the Genesis displayed with still manage to look well detailed and colorful. Special mention has to be made of the moon that is always in the background. He'll either be sleeping, occasionally yawning, or grinning you in a most unsettling manner, and adds an extra touch of personality to the crazy little planet of Pum. I also adored the jolly, upbeat soundtrack, and there are little voice clips for Wiz and Liz when they fill up their magic meter; they give a little cry of "Magic!" in such a funny little voice that it's impossible NOT to love the tone they use!
Wiz 'n' Liz is just too much fun that it's ridiculous to ever pass it up. With an additional 2 player mode, it's fun to play with a friend, and even though it's lacking hazards or enemies, that doesn't mean the game is any less fun for it. Au contraire; Wiz 'n' Liz is one of the shining hidden gems of the Genesis library, and anyone who owns the system should definitely own a copy. Remember, those Wabbits can't save themselves; they need your help!
Think of the Wabbits!