Magic Castle is a previously unreleased game on the Sony PlayStation Net Yaroze hobbiest development system, with the ultimate intention of the game being released as a full commercial title late in the original Sony console’s life-cycle. The Yaroze was an interesting system; it afforded those who were interested in dipping their toes into console development for only $1119 US. This was a comparatively minuscule investment compared to a full PlayStation dev-kit at the time. Unfortunately the inability to self-publish and seek the approval of Sony remained, which prevented a mass of unauthorised titles being pushed out as shovelware. This, however, didn’t prevent the deluge of, errr, junk titles published in the sunset era of the original PlayStation’s commercial life…
One of the developers, Twitter user PIROWO, announced the release of the game as a free download just before Christmas. The isometric dungeon-crawler style in the attached image is immediately reminiscent of classic 80s 8-bit titles such as Knight Lore (by Ultimate Play The Game aka Rare), Cadaver (Bitmap Brothers), and even the arcade title Congo Bongo (Sega). Where this 32-bit game differed is in the high colour, high framerate polygonal world that would have been impossible to create on 8 or 16-bit machines.
— PIROWO (@PIROWO1) December 24, 2020
A translation of the video’s commentary can be found on Net Yaroze Europe, where you can also read an interview with the developers, find out more about the game’s development history, and of course download the game for yourself. The web page linked above is a fantastic resource about this otherwise lost and forgotten piece of gaming history. Here’s a few key snippets about Magic Castle
- There are four types of player characters in this game.
- Knight uses swords and shields and is good at short range attacks.
- Magicians are good at attacking by magic, you can fly in the sky.
- Archers use bows and arrows and are good at hitting a long distance.
- Fighters are characterised by their nimbleness and strength.
- Up to four players can play simultaneously and exchange inventory items. Awesome!
- Item types include weapons (obviously), medicines, armour, and magic scrolls.
- The camera dynamically rotates for optimal viewing.
As an action-based RPG with cooperative elements, Magic Castle sounds like a missed opportunity for the publishers that passed it up, especially at the height of the PlayStation’s popularity (although it could be argued that the upcoming PS2 might have demanded more of their mindset at the time). We haven’t had an opportunity to try this out yet, but if you do, please drop us an email to let us know what you think. I’ll definitely be checking it out…once I drag my PlayStation out of storage and find a CD burner. Alternatively, there’s that PlayStation Classic I have sat in the corner currently gathering dust…