Product Type: Ubisoft Nintendo DS games
Newest Review: ... start with only your mage on screen, and have to summon troops, prepare spells and give orders. While your mage is powerful, and can cast... more
Strategy fantasy game
Lost Magic (DS)
Member Name: tirial
Lost Magic (DS)
Advantages: Unique mechanic, good strategy play, easy to learn
Disadvantages: Odd stylus detection, no outstanding features
LostMagic is a strategy game for the Nintendo DS, where an apprentice mage has to control troops from goblins to dragons, learn spells and build an army to save the world.
Set in a fantasy world you are Isaac, a trainee mage being raised by the Forest Witch. When a stranger visits his master, it reveals a threat to the world, and sets Isaac on a quest to defeat the evil that has corrupted the four archmages, and discover what happened to his parents, learning new spells and recruiting monsters for his army along the way. The plot is fairly standard but moves along nicely, and is only really there as an excuse for a series of battles and a good fantasy game.
LostMagic suffers because it was mis-marketed as an RPG. It is actually closer to a pure real-time strategy game, where you control the mage but also all his troops on the map. The game is played as a series of linked missions with story cut-scenes between them, and the tutorials are integrated with the game play, making it very easy to pick up as you play.
In each battle you start with only your mage on screen, and have to summon troops, prepare spells and give orders. While your mage is powerful, and can cast spels with great damage potential than any amy unit, he is also weaker in hand to hand combat and if he dies you lose. Also every spell you cast uses mana, and if you ruin out you can't cast any more spells. This means strategy (and resource management) is essential to winning - especially since there are also time limits. The AI for the enemies is actually quite good, and the battles all have unique features with their own specific aims to further the story. Fighting another mage in the boss battles is an interesting challenge as they will be summoning re-inforcements and cast high level spells in the same way you can - only they are normally tougher. You can also recruit monsters you defeat into your army, although there is a limit on how many creatures you can control at once, so you need to pick your units carefully.
You control troops and give orders by using the stylus. One of the game's most unique features is that you actually cast the spells by drawing symbols on the touch pad, on a screen accessed by one of the shoulder buttons. If you really need to you can even check your spell book during a battle to confirm one. The game doesn't slow down to let you do it however, and if you can't remember the right spell you can get into trouble quickly.
The gameplay graphics are very basic, traditional RPG style, almost at 8-bit level, and the game is played top down so you get a good overview of the map. Despite this the sprites are nicely designed, recogniseable as their cut scene equivalents, and most importantly easily identified on the battlefield. The sound is unremarkable and limited, but to be honest I played much of the game with it turned off because it distracted me. The cut scenes are fairly simple, with anime-style character graphics sliding on from the side to show who is speaking and text subtitles displayed below.
The only real problem I had with this was drawing the spells, where the stylus detection could be erratic and mis-cast spells. This was particularly true later in the game where multiple symbols had been learned, some of which were very similar to others.
There is a game plus, where you replay it with everything you learned the first time through. The script doesn't change, and there's a fair degree of humour in people congratulate you on being a prodigy, especially since this time you are living up to it. However this quickly bores and it doesn;t really have much replay value.
You can multi-play across Wi-Fi using your story mode character but I didn't really use this feature because of lag the first few times I tried it - and the difficult of finding other players.
The limited replay value, multi-player issues, and poor stylus detection lower it to an average 3 stars, but if you can buy it on budget you should get 10-20 hours of good play out of this. It's also suitable for players of any ages, although younger gamers may get frustrated by the number of symbols to remember and cast.
Overall I enjoyed it. It's not an outstanding game, and the spellcasting is the only really unique feature, but as a strategy game, giving orders and planning tactics, it holds together well. If you can find it cheaply, it's well worth a look.
Summary: An enjoyable light fantasy strategy game for the DS
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