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Lost Magic Package Art
GENRE
Role Playing, Action
DEVELOPER
Taito Corporation
PUBLISHER
Ubisoft
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
MICROPHONE
No
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Lost Magic

A young boy on a planet saving quest. A beginning mage heading for an unavoidable conflict with his now evil father. A lot of reading. It sounds like an RPG, but it's full of action and acts like a real-time strategy. So what is Lost Magic?

visuals

Graphics are often a matter of taste, and this is true for Lost Magic. Some may enjoy the simplicity of the battle screens, with its plainly but clearly animated characters and environments, while others may bemoan it for the same reasons. While it does not try to push the visual envelope, Lost Magic's presentation is colorful and vibrant. The magic attacks are surprisingly well varied considering the sheer number of different spells. Many of the environments resemble A Link to the Past on the SNES, and the two games' graphics are comparable.

The dialogue screens, however, are inarguably attractive. The characters are well drawn and many of the backgrounds are breathtaking. The artwork is some of the best the DS offers, and it helps to create a more immersive backdrop for the story.

audio

The music is standard fare for the genre-- fast, aggressive sounds when fighting a boss and soft, cheerful music at moments of peace. The score is not particularly memorable, but it doesn't warrant being turned off either. Magic effects are appropriate for what is happening, be it an explosive fire attack or a freezing ice attack, and various noises help indicate the accuracy of a drawn rune.

gameplay

Lost Magic mainly revolves around the game's magic system, which is a gem. The player's stylus doubles as Isaac's magic staff. In "real life" Isaac would move his staff in different ways to cast his spells. Players do the same by drawing the spells with their stylus.

Magic is created with runes of six different types: fire, water, wind, earth, light and dark. Over the course of the game, Isaac will learn three different runes for each type of magic. Each rune is represented by a symbol. Players activate the magic by drawing the rune, and then touching a location for the magic to be used. Each rune on its own is a spell, but by combining two or three runes together, players can create more advanced and powerful magic. In all (if my math is correct) there are 354 different spells.

With all these different combinations, finding the desired spell would seem to be a daunting task. The system is simplified by how the spells are arranged. The second fire rune (which resembles the letter M) creates an explosion. By drawing that rune, followed by the first wind rune, Isaac creates a wind explosion. In essence, in double rune spells, the first rune is the foundation--an explosion, a projectile, a dust cloud--and the second rune adds the focus--a water explosion, a wind projectile, a healing dust cloud. While early levels can often be completed by attacking with one effective spell, later levels require players to reach deep into the spell book with different heals and poisons. The difficulty throughout the game is somewhat uneven, but in any battle, players will need to have a strategy, and the number of spells gives players incredible options.

Once Isaac learns Trap magic, he will be able to bring a group of captured monsters into battle. Players control the monsters in an RTS style of touching the unit to select it, and then touching a destination. It's very intuitive and gives precise and quick control over the army. Sometimes a unit will get himself stuck behind a tree and need a little babying in the control, and the lack of some RTS-styled control options, particularly ordering a unit to stay put rather than automatically attack enemies, can cause a few frustrating moments. Overall, those problems are minor, and the varied types of monsters make choosing which units to take as important as which magic to use.

But the magic system is the game's focus. A great choice by Taito is that combination spells must be learned by players on their own by putting runes together and watching the result. It adds a great sense of discovery and helps reinforce the idea that Isaac is just beginning to learn how to use magic. This also means Isaac will not always win. Players will find themselves repeating some of the more difficult battles. The worst part of losing is that the dialogue scenes cannot be skipped. It gets tiring reading through the same lines over and over.

multiplayer

Lost Magic allows local, multi-cart battles as well as internet matches over Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. Online players earn a rating that is used in Rival Duel mode to match up players of similar skills. Players can choose to play combat matches with either preset characters or their saved character from the single player mode. The multiplayer options are an unexpected but welcomed addition. PC gamers have long enjoyed the online multiplayer aspects of RTS games, and Lost Magic's online mode should please those fans.

Lost Magic allows a demo of the game to be sent to other DS owners, a cool addition that, with any luck, will become a trend.

overall

Lost Magic is a great example of the gameplay possibilities the DS provides. It takes advantage of the hardware's major feature, applies it to enhance a currently used control scheme and adds an entirely new mechanic that no other system could accurately reproduce. Without the fighting system Lost Magic employs, the game's real-time element would be buried in a heap of boring and cumbersome menus. Drawing the magic is like having instant access to a vast library of spells. Maybe the game relies on the magic system a little too much, but it's that system that keeps Lost Magic from ever being lost.

final score 8.9/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Dave Magliano
Staff Profile | Email
"Tiger uppercut!!"


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