Sunday, June 20, 2010

Favorite Game - Magician's Quest

Let's get one thing straight: I'm a pretty big Animal Crossing fan. I've never been a fan of life sim games in general, but there's something about AC that's so relaxing and enjoyable. Maybe it's the idea of living on your own with no cares or responsibilities in the world that draws me into the game so much. As much as I like AC, the events and activities in the game get stale after awhile. The AC series hasn't had many significant changes since it started back on the Nintendo 64 in Japan as "Animal Forest". As an AC fan looking for a change of pace, I found Magician's Quest (MQ) about a year and a half ago. After playing this game for a good year, I can say that MQ is a good alternative...despite its glaring issues.

Magician's Quest, also known as Enchanted Folk in EU regions, is a fantasy life sim that can only described as Animal Crossing meets Harry Potter. It features many similarities that are taken straight from the AC formula, but has its own unique features such as using magic to solve problems, attending classes, and solving mysteries. MQ is more about living life as a magician in training, where as AC is all about taking it easy.

Making your own character in MQ is a lot different from AC. Instead of being asked a bunch of questions that will determine your character's look, you can simply select your appearance or choose a look at random. MQ's game world plays out in real time like with AC. Day and night comes, seasons change, weather happens. But the game also has a thing called "Mystery Time" where the sky changes psychedelic colors and strange things happen.

The game has several spells you can learn, most of which you learn from attending classes at the school. There are spells to summon rain, spells to banish rain and create a rainbow, spells to become invisible, spells to summon a cloud that you can sleep on, spells to make someone fall in love with you, spells to find treasure, spells to make flowers fall from the sky, and more.
Hammock cloud napping

Some magic requires that you simply chant a certain spell. Some requires the use of an item and chant...
Some spells require you to be in certain places, or at a certain time of the day. Other spells might require you to be near a certain type of landscape or might require you to do a certain movement. There might also be a combination... For example: One spell requires you to walk clockwise around a series of stones, hold a crystal in your hands and chant the magic words.


Socialization with students in MQ is much better then AC, in my opinion. You can actually friends and enemies in the game, unlike with AC where you can treat all your villagers like dirt and they'll still act like you're their best friend. In AC: If you beat someone with a net or give them presents, every day they'll think of you the same way. In MQ: If you pick on someone with magic spells, they might get mad and cast magic spells right back at you. Not only that, but students in MQ could make friends and enemies amongst themselves, so you could get bullies, outcasts, rivalries, and friendships that didn't even involve you. It was nice seeing how students felt about EACH OTHER.

Now don't get me wrong: The socialization options in MQ isn't super amazing as there's lots of loose ends here and there, but comparing it to AC, there's no contest.


Other things I'd like to mention but don't want to get into:

  • MQ has 52+ quests give the game a better sense of purpose then AC.
  • *The game world feels much more alive then with AC (Students in your school will gossip with each other, fish, catch bugs, practice magic spells, etc. and actually be active around the school, unlike with AC where villagers just walk around town aimlessly and never use their tools.)
  • There's over 70+ plus songs in MQ that you can listen to and play back in public using different instruments like guitars and flutes. While playing songs in public, other students can join in, starting an impromptu jam session
  • You can ask students to hang out with you, and they'll follow you around and sort of follow your example, so you can go fishing with them, or go broom riding with them, or take them out for a drink at the juice bar and stuff like that. You can even have a boyfriend/girlfriend in the game if you spend enough time with them (but don't get any wacky ideas about that aspect. It's kid friendly dating and there is no touching... EVER.)
  • Generally, there's a lot of events and weird moments in MQ that you would never see in AC.
Yeah... A LOT of weird moments...

E-10+? +3 age rating? Right...

(to be honest, though, this was taken from the EU version of the game. You're not gonna find any suggestive dialog like this in the US version... Sorry!)

As perfect as MQ sounds, the game comes with a huge list of problems that can bog down the experience. Most of the magic spells are somewhat useless as most of them are only used once for particular quests. The game's rumor system is also very buggy. Students will often spread rumors to one another and things are typically suppose to get lost in translation. But instead, you'll get messed up messages such as this:

Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Besides from that, there are glitches and bugs all over the place, some of which can hang up the game and force you to reset the system. Plus: The atmosphere was incredibly lacking compared to AC. While MQ may have tons of features that make it's better than AC, its lack of polish is very obvious and piles up very quickly. The way I see it, MQ reeks of "first attempt" material and I can only hope that its problems will be fixed in the sequel.

Speaking of which: The game did not sell very well in US/EU regions mostly due to Konami's lack of advertising and lack of available copies, but it sold well enough in Japan to warrant an expansion to the game called Magician's Quest: Magic Shop (not a direct translation.) I'm crossing my fingers hoping that the expanded version will reach US shores, and that Konami won't go with their brilliant plan of not telling anyone that the game exists.

So that's Magician's Quest in a nutshell. A game that rips off Animal Crossing in almost every way possible while managing to be better than Animal Crossing in certain aspects. It may not be perfect, but AC fans looking for a change of pace should give this game a try. Just make sure you buy it online since finding it in stores is nearly impossible. Again, you can thank Konami US for that.


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