In 1998, the game's author, Rick Saada, decided to distribute both parts of Castle of the Winds free of charge as freeware.
The game differs from most roguelikes in a number of ways. Its interface is mouse-dependent, but supports keyboard shortcuts (such as 'g' to get an item). Castle of the Winds also allows the player to restore saved games after dying.
The game favors the use of magic in combat, as spells are the only weapons that work from a distance. The player character automatically gains a spell with each experience level, and can permanently gain others using corresponding books, until all thirty spells available are learned. There are two opposing pairs of elements: cold vs. fire and lightning vs. acid/poison. Spells are divided into six categories: attack, defense, healing, movement, divination, and miscellaneous.
Castle of the Winds possesses an inventory system that limits a player's load based on weight and bulk, rather than by number of items. It allows the character to use different containers, including packs, belts, chests, and bags. Other items include weapons, armor, protective clothing, purses, and ornamental jewellery. Almost every item in the game can be normal, cursed, or enchanted, with curses and enchantments working in a manner similar to NetHack. Although items do not break with use, they may already be broken or rusted when found. Most objects that the character currently carries can be renamed.
The game tracks how much time has been spent playing the game. Although story events are not triggered by the passage of time, it does determine when merchants rotate their stock. Victorious players are listed as "Valhalla's Champions" in the order of time taken, from fastest to slowest. If the player dies, they are still put on the list, but are categorized as "Dead", with their experience point total listed as at the final killing blow. The amount of time spent also determines the difficulty of the last boss.
Although secondary to its hack-and-slash gameplay, Castle of the Winds has a plot loosely based on Norse mythology, told with setting changes, unique items, and occasional passages of text.
The player begins in a tiny hamlet, near which he used to live. His farm has been destroyed and his godparents killed. After clearing out an abandoned mine, the player finds a scrap of parchment that reveals the death of the player's godparents as having been ordered. The player then returns to the hamlet to find it pillaged, and decides to travel to Bjarnarhaven.
Once in Bjarnarhaven, the player explores the levels beneath a nearby fortress, eventually facing Hrungnir, the Hill Giant Lord, the one responsible for ordering the player's godparents death. Hrungnir carries the Enchanted Amulet of Kings. Upon activating the amulet, the player is informed of his past by his dead father, after which the player is transported to the town of Crossroads, and Part I ends. The game can be imported or started over in Part II.
The town of Crossroads is run by a Jarl who at first does not admit the player, but later provides advice and two enchanted items. The player then enters the nearby ruined titular Castle of the Winds. There the player meets his deceased grandfather, who instructs him to venture into the dungeons below, defeat Surtur, and reclaim his birthright. Venturing deeper, the player encounters monsters run rampant, a desecrated crypt, a necromancer, and the installation of various special rooms for elementals. The player eventually meets and defeats the Wolf-Man leader, Bear-Man leader, the four Jotun kings, a Demon Lord, and finally Surtur. Upon defeating Surtur, the player seats themselves upon the throne, completing the game.
All terrain tiles, some landscape features, all monsters and objects, and some spell/effect graphics take the form of Windows 3.1 icons. Multi-tile graphics, such as ball spells and town buildings, are bitmaps included in the executable file. No graphics use colors other than the Windows-standard 16-color palette, plus transparency. They exist in monochrome versions as well, meaning that the game will display well on monochrome monitors.
The map view is identical to the playing-field view, except for scaling to fit on one screen. A simplified map view is available to improve performance on slower computers. The latter functionality also presents a cleaner display, as the aforementioned scaling routine does not always work correctly.
|Microsoft Windows Minimum Specifications|
|Operating System||Windows 3.0|
|Display||640 × 480 resolution|
- "Playing Catch Up: Castle of the Winds' Rick Saada" from Gamasutra
- The Saada Homepage. Retrieved on December 23, 2007.