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Swordquest: Waterworld Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 30%
Swordquest: Waterworld
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Swordquest: Waterworld Swordquest: Waterworld Swordquest: Waterworld Swordquest: Waterworld
  • Review Score:

  • D+
In 1982, the release of the first game in the Swordquest series wasn't just a game release; it was an event. All the publicity revolved around a contest giving away $150,000 worth of prizes to the best player of each of the four Swordquest games. The contest helped boost sales of the first two games Earthworld and Fireworld. Unfortunately, the timing for the event couldn't have been worse, kicking off just a few months before the 1983 Video Game Crash. With the fall of Atari, the contest got cut short, and the third game of the series Waterworld was released in a limited run. (The final game Airworld was never finished.) Since the majority of people bought the first two games primarily for a shot at the contest, was it even worth playing the third without a chance at winning its prize? After playing it myself, I have to say, sadly, no.

In terms of complexity, Swordquest: Waterworld sits between the simplicity of Adventure and the utter confusion of Raiders of the Lost Ark. While Earthworld placed players in a linking series of rooms following the Zodiac and Fireworld set its rooms up to follow the Tree of Life, Waterworld's seven rooms were laid out to follow the seven centers of chakra. The goal is to collect an assortment of items and place certain combinations of objects into certain rooms. When the right combination is in a room, a clue is revealed that leads to a page in the accompanying DC comic book. There are seven clues to find, but they have to be whittled down to four through another hint in the comic.

Swordquest: Waterworld (Atari 2600)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unlike the first two games, Waterworld provides a lot of help finding those clues. There are action scenes that pop up randomly that all revolve around Frogger ideas like dodging squids and hopping on ice floes. The thing is that all of the action scenes can be skipped with the only detriment being that a couple of items in each room would be invisible. That's different from the first two games which required beating the action scenes to get to the items. In fact, if you carry four certain items, you can skip all of the action scenes, reveal all the items, and still have room in your inventory for two more items to carry to another room. To top it off, you could take multiple tries to find all the clues whereas, in the first two games, all the clues had to be found in one sitting. The game is much shorter and easier than the first two.

Overall, Waterworld is the nicest looking and sounding of the series. The limited characters are well-animated, and the fading effects for the ice floes look nice though they're not conducive for playing. Though it's to be expected for a game called Waterworld, I did get sick of all the shades of blue in the color scheme. The music and sound effects are all top tier for the Atari 2600.

As much as I want to say that it's worth playing now, I just can't. Swordquest: Waterworld may be easier to get into than the two games that came before it, but it was still a game built to connect to its contest rather than designed to be enjoyed on its own. Searching for the clues now is pretty much pointless. Without a golden crown to be won, there really isn't a reason to play it today.
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