Magi Nation. Magination. Imagination. Clever title? Maybe. Cleverly created gaming masterpiece? Less likely. This game is a lot like Dragon Warrior Monsters, since you get to summon monsters into battle to fight other monsters, or other wizards with their own sets of monsters, but it doesn’t quite reach the bar DWM set for it. If you haven’t played Dragon Warrior Monsters, you could compare this game to Pokémon, only with more than one monster able to be summoned at a time. if you haven’t played DWM or Pokémon…well, just make up a game in your head that involves a boy going around with monsters following him and having them attack enemies for him, and then compare this game to that one. I’ll give everyone a short break now, so the people making up their own games have time to do so and don’t get left behind.
**Please stop reading at this time to take a short break.**
Thank you, now enough of this nonsense—on to the meat and couscous of the review!
One major difference between Magi Nation and the above mentioned games is that this game actually allows you to attack using the main character. What a splendid idea! Who would have ever thought that maybe the person carrying around all those monsters would actually pick up a stick or something and give them a hand with the battle, instead of wetting himself in a corner and passing out when all of the monsters get defeated? Another different (but not necessarily improved) aspect of this game is its use of rings (the finger variety) to summon monsters. You have to bring a number of different materials to the ring-making person to have a ring forged for you, and each ring will allow you to summon a different monster.
These minor differences will break some boredom that could come from having played many similar games, but the major “non-traditional element” in this game is its dialogue. The characters all talk as if the whole game is a parody of other similar games, forgetting about a lot of the serious conversations that would take place in many other RPGs, and instead going with conversations like this: “Every year you say a new person is the chosen one! Last year you said it was the monster trainer and every day after we had to listen to him running around screaming, ‘OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH YEEEEEEEEAAH!! I AM THE CHOSEN ONE, WEEEEEEEEEEE HEHEHEEEEEEEEEEE!!’, now how am I supposed to believe you this time!?” This “new-school” style is belied by the old-school background music, and it creates a nice little contradiction that I, for one, found appealing.
The visuals in this game are also on two sides of the spectrum. The main character and the NPCs look similar to something you would draw in a basic paint program in about 12 seconds, and the overworld map (when traveling between towns and dungeons) isn’t much better. The graphics inside towns/dungeons and the monster graphics are much better, however, making for another nice contradiction (although not as appealing a contradiction as the previous one).
The replay value, sadly enough, does not have any special contradictions to make it more special. There are a few minigames to play, and some other fun little side things to do, but they’re not really enough to push you toward playing the game again if you aren’t really into it. It basically comes down to how much you like the game. If you like the game a lot, you may want to play it again and try to get all of the rings to the maximum power, or do something equally as…exciting…but if you don’t like the game, there’s really not much for you in playing again.
This game is definitely decent enough to pay the eight bucks (for a used copy) it goes for at your local Electronics Boutique, but if you are seriously interested in this type of game, I would most definitely recommend Dragon Warrior Monsters (1 or 2, it doesn’t matter; they’re both good) over this and all other similar titles (yes, even the great Pokémon…weee).