reviewed on NDS
Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times has been referred to by many as a simple Animal Crossing clone. While this may be true to some extent, Magician's Quest stills proves to be a worthwhile outing as it offers new gameplay features that make it feel different enough from the series that it imitates.
Enrolling at a magic school
The game begins with the player enrolling as a student in a mysterious magic school in order to become a successful sorcerer. There are some customization options that allow players to alter their appearance, but in the end you're practically guaranteed to end up with a child's body and a head the size of a boulder. After you are finished with the customisation, you'll be shown around the school by our favourite pumpkin-headed friend, Reginald. Your personal lodgings will be in a spare dorm room, with no furniture but a single wardrobe, drab flooring and wall coverings. Next thing you know, Reginald suggests that you ask the local shopkeeper for a job - sound familiar?
Whether you use the touch screen or traditional controls to play the game, the experience will remain the same. In a nutshell, the game is all about making use of magic to complete elaborate, weekly adventures, as well as simple day-to-day tasks such as planting flowers and trees, digging holes, fishing, catching bugs and all the other joys familiar from the Animal Crossing series. It's not difficult to tell that Konami borrowed a couple of pages from Nintendo with Magician's Quest, but regardless, the game still proves to be fun.
With Magician's Quest, the art style really stands out from the rest of the package. There is 3D graphics displayed on both screens and this allows for some impressive two-story buildings and elaborate modelling. The hub world itself is a lot larger than Nintendo's as well. Along the way, expect to explore places such as a beach, forest, island, cave and even a haunted house.
Another highlight of the game is the shopping district, with contains approximately eight key buildings, each offering different stock, such as magician equipment, clothes and dorm room furniture. For those who've experienced the city in Animal Crossing: City Folk, think of it as a much improved area - one that's actually worth visiting!
Of course, if you're not in the mood for exploring and shopping, you can always fish, plant flowers and run around town. There are plenty of specific adventures that are scattered throughout the game waiting to be completed. It feels a lot like Animal Crossing in one way, but a completely new experience at the same time.
Familiar from Animal Crossing
And for those who thought they might be able to escape the annoying Restti, you'd better think again as Magician's Quest has its own version of the monster. As previously mentioned, it's not difficult to see that the game borrowed a page from Animal Crossing as many of the characters are animals. Also inspired by Animal Crossing are the pixel editor for designing clothes, the real time schedule, including town clocks and weather based on the time of year, and a town melody, used every hour on the hour, and also to signify when classes begin in school.
If you adored Animal Crossing, you'll find plenty of enjoyment in Magician's Quest - the gameplay is virtually identical and the visuals are just as cute and cuddly. That being said, Magician's Quest doesn't pack quite as much charm as Animal Crossing did, so there's less incentive to come back.
If you like the genre...
If you're not a fan of the genre, Magician's Quest certainly isn't going to win you over. The pace is rather sluggish, the tasks are repetitive, there's a lot of text to read and there's an abundance of loading screens. As a result of the amount of reading, the game isn't meant for as young gamers as Animal Crossing was, but regardless, Magician's Quest is certainly a great game in its own right.
A successful attempt at creating a Animal Crossing style game.
Doesn't bring much new to the table.