NINTENDO DS REVIEW: LOSTMAGIC

LostMagic is perfect for the Poke-aficionado who's moved on to other pursuits, but still kinda digs the monster collecting vibe. by Cole Smith

May 1, 2006 - LostMagic is an action RPG where you cast magic spells and collect monsters to help you in battle, not unlike Pokemon. The game differs from Pokemon in that it's a much deeper experience, and this time deeper doesn't mean more complicated, it means "more fun."

LostMagic takes full advantage of the DS control system. The stylus acts as a magic wand which casts spells by drawing the magic Rune symbols. The game also exploits, to great effect, all of the DS's features as it incorporates good graphics and sound effects with an interesting storyline and fast-paced gameplay. Some old-school RPG elements such as endless exploration, collecting and annoying character interaction have been streamlined to make way for more action. The map will automatically transport you to your next real-time encounter. The pace is quick and it gets more intense as you go.

Overall LostMagic is not unique enough to be considered innovative and the character interaction has been downplayed in favor of sustaining the combat and action aspects of the gameplay. For this reason the game won't stay with you, despite the fact that it has good replay value. After you complete it, you'll soon forget all about it since the characters are unmemorable and you don't work hard and long for the quest, which admittedly can be a drag, but does serve a purpose to make you feel as though you've been through Hell. Which makes the rewards seem so much sweeter. You might replay the game to experiment with the hybrid spells, as well as the online and wireless multi-player mode.

In a magical kingdom, (where no explanations or apologies are necessary) a young mage named Isaac is on a quest to find his father whom he has not spoken to in many years. His journey takes him to strange and wondrous lands filled with both good and evil, but it's the evil that is the focus of the gameplay. So be prepared to do battle with a variety of different-colored monsters with a multitude of powers while you attempt to wrest back the Seven Wands from the Diva of Twilight. As you grow in battle you will begin to amass the powers of a wizard which you will require to fulfill your destiny. The one thing you'll learn is that when you're a wizard, you don't have to wait around, you can get right down to the business of having fun.

There is no better way to fight fire than with fire. When combating monsters, it's best to employ the service of other monsters that will do your bidding, but first you have to capture them before you can turn them into slaves. During a battle, you must beat a monster close to death and then cast a Capture spell on him. You have an inventory for 70 different monster, so in true Pokemon style, you will want to "collect 'em all." As you can probably surmise, the monsters have different attributes which you can level-up. All of the monsters have an affinity for one of six different elementals which include fire, water, earth, wind, light and dark. You can discern their affinity by their color. For instance brown is earth, yellow is light and blue is water. Your magical powers also correspond to these elementals and knowing what spells to use, and what monster slaves to send into battle make up the strategic elements of the gameplay.

You could say that the gameplay has been distilled to its most engaging components. There is a good deal of character interaction but it feels more like cutscenes than an actual in-game component where you have to listen closely to pick up clues, names and directions. The combat does become repetitive but more so in frequency than anything else. There are about 20 different spells which you can draw with your stylus but you can also combine the spells to come up with a variety of interesting hybrids. To do this all you have to do is draw another spell to be included with the first one. There are hundreds of different combinations and while some are just variations, there are some real gems that are worth the experimentation. Some of the drawings can be a little on the complicated side and if you don't have a very good memory you probably won't use too many of them. You also have to draw them as perfectly as possible. The better your drawing resembles the actual Rune, the more powerful the spell.

Along with experimenting, you will encounter a lot of situations that require trial and error. There is no way to know what monsters you'll be facing and what powers they wield so at times you may have to backtrack and capture specific monsters to add to your collection. You may also feel the need to level-up your character and monsters to compete with the more powerful enemies. Being able to transport yourself instantly to any area on the map makes backtracking far less burdensome than in most RPGs.

Online play lets you use the monsters that you've collected and customized in the single-player mode, but you have to play against a similarly powerful opponent. Otherwise you can opt for the default characters which give both players the same level playfield. One thing you will notice is that there is some delay in commands which makes the gameplay in this mode feel more like turn-based than real-time. The ad-hock wireless mode by contrast, is excellent. It's fast and smooth with nary a glitch.

Graphically I won't say the game is astounding but it does an admirable job of transporting us to a fantasy realm, although it's on the anime cartoonish side. The character modes are well rendered with different bodies, faces and animations. The faces are expressive but as with most anime that consists of deep sadness, incredible outrage, unrepressed happiness and abject surprise. The music is thematic and well done but there's not enough of it to keep it from repeating.

LostMagic is definitely for everyone. It incorporates different genres such as RPG, RTS, and action adventure to create an experience that is sure to bring you many hours of entertainment.

Features:

  • Cast Spells With the Stylus! Your stylus becomes your magic wand! Use different gestures to unleash your magic.
  • Evolving Magic System Players can combine up to three single spells to create more than 350 magic combinations using a symbol system Exclusive to the DS.
  • Collect and Command Monsters Collect monsters and command the monsters. Learn to use each monsters special skill to gain the advantage in battle.
  • Use the Stylus to Open Up a New Frontier in RPGs Experience strategy like never before! Lost Magic's innovative RTS-type RPG makes full use of the unique capabilities of DS. Control your units directly on screen using a point and click interface that PC strategy gamers have enjoyed for years.
  • Challenge Others via Wi-Fi Create new characters and challenge friends over a Wi-Fi connection. With 'dueling mode' players can test their magic casting skills and strategies against each other.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
LostMagic (DS)
4.0
Graphics
Lots of interface and menu interaction which keeps things from getting boring. Colorful and cartoonish graphics. Good facial expressions.
4.4
Control
The spell drawing is not an original concept but it's put to good use here. May be difficult to remember all but the most basic of symbols.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is good but it's repetitive.
4.5
Play Value
With hundreds of different spell combos you might want to play the game over a few times. The multi-player mode will also give you a good workout but you will experience annoying lag online.
4.1
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: DS
Dev: Taito
Pub: Ubi Soft
Released: Apr 2006
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best