FireWorld Game Reviews

from Video Games Magazine April 1983:

Soft Spot Column "Twelve More Reasons to Be Cheerful" By Phil Wiswell

Fireworld (Atari/VCS) is the second of a four-cart series collectively called Swordquest. Each of the four games contains a puzzle that you must figure out based on clues found both within the game and in a DC comic book that comes with it. A $25,000 prize has been offered to the first player who can solve each puzzle, and a $50,000 prize to the one who puts all four together to solve the larger puzzle.Because the game involves a contest and because half the fun of the Swordquest games lies in discovery (at first, you don't even know what you're looking for), I'm not going to say much other than that Fireworld is fun.

There are 10 rooms, arranged with pathways and doorways just like Atari's old Adventure cartridge. There are also 10 treasure rooms where you can pick up objects that will help you solve the puzzle or move from room to room.

There are 16 treasures in all, but you can only carry six at a time, so you'll have to leave others in strategic places for ater use. To enter each treasure room, you must perform an action-game sequence, like catching falling objects or dodging deadly ones.

And then there are the clues. By leaving the appropriate object in the right place in the right room, a clue will be revealed to you. Its meaning may or may not be obvious, so it's best to write them down and experiment alter.

Graphically, Fireworld is somewhere between impressive and annoying. Moving from one room to another through the doorways is a nice effect, but, for the most part, most of the screens have that blocky VCS look to them. Ah, but the gameplay is addicting, which is what really counts.

Bring on Waterworld !

from Video Games Magazine November 1983:

Soft Spot Column: "Home Cart Screen Gems On View " By Dan Persons


According to the comic book that accompanied this cartridge, I am in a land of erupting volcanoes, molten lava pits, and raging curtains of fire. There are two characters in the comic, a brother and sister who must battle firebirds, demons and dragons to achieve their goal. However, I only see one person on the scren, and the "tests" that I must undergo bear little resemblance to those described in the comic book.

My goal: It's either to find the Tree of Life or the Chalice of Light, or locate certain words concealed in the artwork of the comic book or to win $150,000. How will I know when I've accomplished my task? I don't know, and neither the comic nor the vaguely worked instruction book gives any hints. What kind of game is this?

It's the kind of game that asks more questions than it answers. In FireWorld, the second installment in Atari's Swordquest series for the 2600 game system, the joystick manipulates your on-screen persona through a series of rooms connected by doorways. Press the action button while in a room and you're transported to one of six tests; mini-games that might require you to dodge some sort of creature, shoot them or catch. If you survive, for a certain length of time, you're transported to a treasure room where you can pick up certain objects and leave others to reveal clues, which take the form of page and frame numbers that relate to the comic book. Objects in your possession are shown at the bottom of the screen. You can't die, except perhaps of boredom, and the game is over when it's done, no doubt an arbitrary stopping point I shall never see.

There's always a sense of trial and error in any adventure game. However, there's normally some sort of frame of reference, a way of relating the creatures and objects that are encountered to your own experience. This isn't the case with FireWorld. Carrying certain objects will get you through certain games, while leaving the correct objects in the right rooms will gain you clues, but there doesn't seem to be any criteria that you can use to determine which objects do what. I lay the blame for this vagueness on the concept of connecting the games in the Swordquest series with a contest.

Players who solve the FireWorld puzzle will be invited to compete for a very expensive, and gaudy, jewel-encrusted goblet. Since Atari isn't too anxious to receive several thousand correct entries, they have made the game as inscruitable as possible. This may make life easier for the contest judges, but for the poor gameplayer it results in a game that's more tedious than it is fun.

Perhaps, I would be more forgiving if the gameplay and the graphics were intriguing enough. They aren't. The six mini-games are ultimately boring. Some of them are so poorly designed that you don't even have to bother playing them to get into the treasure room. The graphics, at best, are just blocky compositions using some of the worst colour combinations I have ever seen. At worst, the graphics make some of the mini-games more difficult to play, since the targets you're aiming for abruptly and inexplicably disappear into the background.

The idea of expanding a video game with a comic book is a good one. Atari proved it with Yar's Revenge. There's merit to the attempt to take the concept one step further and let the game interact with the comic book, so that both have to be continually used in order to achieve a goal. Unfortunately, the folks at Atari have failed by adding a contest with such high stakes that the designers were forced to make the game horrendously difficult. If you have your heart set on the goblet, then you might not mind all the drawbacks to FireWorld. If you're just out for a good time, forget it.

I am looking for more magazine articles and reviews of Swordquest FireWorld.

If you have one you'd like to submit, please e-mail me --

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