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Lost Magic Review

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Developer: Taito Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: April 25, 2006 Also On: None

Have you ever played a game that wasn’t bad, but just frustrated you to the point that you didn’t want to play it again? I’ve played several of those in the last few years: Virtua Fighter 4 for the PS2 had me breaking controllers and eventually Fight Night Round 3 put me over the edge. Lost Magic, Ubisoft’s DS role-playing debut, is another one of those games. It’s not a bad game, though it has few excellent qualities, but it sent me into the world of frustration far too quickly.

Lost Magic shows its first stage of mediocrity in its narrative, which tells the story of a boy named Isaac. Isaac receives a mysterious magical staff, passed down in his family for generations and learns how to cast magic. Soon enough, he is forced to put that magic to the test and take down other powerful magicians to figure out the secrets behind his inheritance and the death of his father. None of the characters are particularly interesting, except for Isaac’s cute little bird friend, Perakeru.

The gameplay trick to Lost Magic is the touch screen control. You will cast spells with Isaac’s staff by pulling up a rune with the left trigger and drawing the spell with your stylus. Over time you will learn new spells that you can do by doubling up on basic-level skills. These spells are much more powerful and have more interesting effects. For example, low level skills like a fireball or an earth wall spell can be powered up with other spells to create ice balls and walls of fire that fend off attacking enemies.

Not only can you cast spells, but you can “catch” other monsters and use them as small armies to defeat enemies. These monsters can be leveled up and given items that make them more powerful and formidable. Isaac can also send his monsters around the battlefield to distract enemies or cover portals through which more enemies will respawn.

The only problem with all of this is the stylus control for movement and selecting units. All of the control in this game, other than bringing up the rune to cast spells, is done with the stylus and touch screen. If you want to move Isaac and his monsters around, you will have to select them with the stylus and then tap a point on the screen for them to move to. If you would like them to continue past there, you have got to select them all again, tap another point and continue doing this until you get to your destination. Of course, the A.I. is not smart enough to move around obstructions and walls, so you literally have to control every movement they make.

Not only is this annoying, but the enemies and especially the boss characters are excruciatingly difficult to defeat at certain points in the game. There came several times throughout the game where I simply gave up and forgot all about the game out of frustration. This frustration comes from the magic points system and the slow speed at which you can cast spells. Since all of Isaac’s offense comes from his very limited supply of magic points, you will run out of juice pretty quickly when you are healing your weakened party of monsters and casting offensive spells to fend off enemies. And don’t even try to complete a level if Isaac’s monsters die; Isaac is the most worthless offensive character on his own that I’ve ever seen in a videogame. I think Ash Ketchum from Pokemon could have done a better job defeating an army of enemies than Isaac can do against a menacing team of blobs.

Visually, Lost Magic is hideous. The spell animations are basic and boring, the character sprites are ugly and the frame rate cuts down to only a few frames per second when the “action” gets going. The music and sound effects are horribly annoying as well. Nothing about this game’s presentation is impressive but that is not what makes the game annoying to deal with.

Lost Magic, as I said, is not horrible. It is slightly entertaining when it is not being frustrating or slowing down to a stuttering pace, but “slightly entertaining” does not warrant a purchase when there are other great DS games and at least one amazing DS RPG coming out in the next few months (Final Fantasy III).

Graphics: 5
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.3
Written by Cliff Review Guide