Capcom Database

Willow (ウィロー Uirō?) is a 1989 arcade game by Capcom. Capcom published two different games in 1989 based on the 1988 film of the same name. The arcade version is a platform game while the Nintendo Entertainment System version is an action RPG.


Willow is a side scrolling platform and run and gun video game.[1][2] The game follows the film's plot:[3] The evil witch queen Bavmorda is after the holy baby of the lands, Elora Danan, intent on destroying her. A young peaceful wizard called Willow Ufgood was selected to protect Elora. Later on, a brave warrior named Madmartigan joins Willow to fight the enemy rival General Kael. Bavmorda is the final antagonist that they face off against. The arcade version of the game belongs to the platform genre. It has six stages, some where Willow plays his part, others where Madmartigan plays his and one of the stages where either character is selectable.[4] Madmartigan is a melee character who can fight only at close quarters, while Willow has a projectile attack.[3]

The stages consist of Crossroad, Cherlindrea's Forest, Fin Raziel's Island, Sorsha's Camp, Tir Asleen Castle, and Nockmaar Castle. Each stage must be completed within a certain amount of time. Defeated enemies drop coins which the player can collect to buy things at shops. Depending on whether the player is playing as Willow or Madmartigan, either magic blasts or sword swipes are the attacks. Madmartigan's attack has less range than Willow's, but can destroy enemy projectiles. Both can purchase attack upgrades at shops. Madmartigan's upgrades give him greater power and range, while Willow's upgrades are far more versatile. With each upgrade, his regular blasts become more powerful, the actual upgrades being utilized by holding down the attack button and releasing it when the meter at the screen's bottom reaches a certain point. The following are his magical upgrades:

1. Moonlight - sends a crescent shaped blast forward, which splits into smaller beams on impact, damaging enemies in its path.

2. Tornado - sends a tornado shaped blast forward and at a slightly upward angle.

3. Gold - defeats most on-screen regular enemies; the coins they drop are worth twice their normal value.

4. Time - freezes all regular enemies and their projectiles for a few seconds, during which time Willow is invincible (he flashes blue).

5. Explosive - sends cascades of blasts to both forward and back of Willow.

6. Crystal - sends a circular barrier around Willow, damaging enemies in its path; this is the only of Willow's magic that can destroy projectiles.

Development and release[]

Willow for arcades is loosely based on the heroic fantasy movie of the same name by George Lucas. Despite the film not doing well at the box office, the film generated several video games and tie in merchandise.[2][5] Capcom produced two video games based on the 1988 film, one being an arcade game and the other being an action role-playing game for the Nintendo Entertainment System.[6][3] The game was part of a broader strategy of Capcom at the time to appeal a wider audience by using established characters from other media, as director Yoshiki Okamoto stated that their original characters could be too niche, citing titles based on Area 88 and Destiny of an Emperor as part of this plan.[7]

Willow was released by Capcom in Japan on June 1989 and North America on September of the same year as well as in Europe, using the CP System board.[8][9] A version for the Capcom Power System Changer was planned and previewed but never released.[10] Video game journalists have noted that due to the licensing agreement, and the not thinking that games would be played years after release, it would be unlikely that Capcom would ever re-release the game.[2] The title was not included in the Capcom Home Arcade plug and play game system.[11]


In Japan, Game Machine listed it on their July 15, 1989 issue as being the second most-popular arcade game at the time.[12] In North America, it was considered a successful title for the CPS board, with Capcom VP of Sales and Marketing Bill Cravens saying that "U.N. Squadron and Willow were major hits".[13] Willow was well received by critics since its release in arcades,[14][15] with multiple reviewers praising the game's graphics at the time.[6][16]

Multiple reviewers noted it plays similar to Ghosts n' Goblins, also by Capcom.[16] Retro Gamer noted it had similar level design, and deaths they described as "cheap" designed to make players spend coins in the arcade. Since the game was never ported to a home console, they suggested buying Ghouls n' Ghosts for the Sega Mega Drive as an alternative.[3] The One's Gary Whitta praised the graphics for both the characters and backgrounds while noting the character sprites looked like their movie characters. However, Whitta believed that the gameplay was limited and would mostly appeal to fans of the movie for a short period of time.[16]

Retrospective reviewers also praised the game.[3][6] PlayStation Portable-focused magazine Go Play reviewed Willow alongside The Punisher and Cadillacs and Dinosaurs calling them "some of the best CPS1 games you're unlikely to ever play on a Capcom compilation".[2] IGN Italia's Stefano Castelli praised the game in 2019 and said he wished the game had been ported to home consoles.[17]


Planning: Kawanorider, Deru Deru Itoh
Programming: Professor Arai, Queen Tomita, Yokoyan, Ueyan
Character Design: Frunky Kazu, Bakuhatsu Yokozo, Terukun, Hiramacho, Kuribow, Puttsun Midori, Sadakichi, Oyuu, Rinma, Okachan
Music Compose: Ogeretu Kun
Hard Design: Kucchan
Direction: Kihaji Okamoto
Presented by: Capcom, Lucasfilm Ltd.



  1. cite magazine|last=Yamakawa|first=Yuri|url=紹介 - ウィロー|magazine=Gamest|issue=33|publisher=Shinseisha|date=June 1989|pages=105-107|lang=ja
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 cite magazine|title=Retro Reviews - Classic Capcom Arcade Games|magazine=Go Play|issue=10|publisher=Imagine Publishing|date=2006|page=102
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 cite magazine|title=The Unconverted: Capcom Special - Willow|magazine=Retro Gamer|issue=123|publisher=Imagine Publishing|date=December 2013|page=82
  4. cite magazine|author=J.E.B.|url= Machine - Últimas Novedades: Willow|magazine=Micromanía|volume=2|issue=19|publisher=Hobby Press|date=December 1989|pages=100–101|lang=es
  5. cite magazine|url= Máquina De Tiempo: Arcade - Willow|magazine=Superjuegos Xtreme|issue=185|publisher=Grupo Zeta|date=April 2008|pages=102-103|lang=es
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 cite magazine|last=Sanz|first=Juan Carlos|url= de máquinas - Willow|magazine=Superjuegos|issue=82|publisher=Grupo Zeta|date=February 1999|pages=118–121|lang=es
  7. cite magazine|last1=Ishii|first1=Zenji|last2=Suzuki|first2=GOD|date=November 1989|title=カプコン開発者インタビュー|url=–12%7Clang=ja}} (Translation by Shmuplations. Template:Webarchive).
  8. cite magazine|url= Soft Corner: ビデオゲーム新作インフォメーション - ウィロー|magazine=Micom BASIC Magazine|issue=82|publisher=The Dempa Shimbunsha Corporation|date=July 1989|page=268|lang=ja
  9. cite book|last=Akagi|first=Masumi|url=カプコン Capcom; Capcom USA (Capcom Coin-Op); W|work=アーケードTVゲームリスト 国内•海外編 (1971-2005)|edition=1st|publisher=Amusement News Agency|date=13 October 2006|pages=23, 112, 171|isbn=978-4990251215|language=ja
  10. cite magazine|title=カプコン アーケードオリジナルボード CPSシリーズ+CPSチェンジャー 限定販売決定!!|magazine=Club Capcom|issue=2|publisher=Capcom|date=Spring 1994|lang=ja
  11. Cite web|last=Woger|first=Martin|url= Home Arcade: Test - Das ist schon der "Real Deal"|work=Eurogamer|publisher=Gamer Network|date=November 8, 2019|access-date=2021-02-28|lang=de|archive-date=2021-02-28|archive-url=
  12. cite magazine|title=Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)|magazine=Game Machine|issue=360|publisher=Amusement Press, Inc.|date=15 July 1989|page=33|lang=ja
  13. cite magazine|date=April 1990|title=Cover Story: "This Is the Good Time" - Capcom's CPS system brings success to the firm... and offers direction for a troubled video market|magazine=RePlay|publisher=RePlay Publishing, Inc.|volume=14|issue=7|pages=183–185|url=
  14. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named AGARCw
  15. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named G4ARCw
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 cite magazine|last=Whitta|first=Gary|author-link=Gary Whitta|date=August 1989|title=Arcades: Willow|url= One|publisher=EMAP|issue=11|page=90
  17. cite web|last=Castelli|first=Stefano|url= Retro: Willow - Direttamente dal cinema un sorprendente tie-in firmato Capcom|work=IGN Italia|publisher=Ziff Davis|date=March 30, 2019|access-date=2020-12-12|lang=it|archive-date=2019-03-31|archive-url=

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