I am, as ever, a sucker for role-playing games. I love getting in the head of the character and guiding him through the perils of his adventure to finally emerge victorious. And when it’s all said and done, there’s a bittersweet feeling in the heart and mind—the satisfaction of having rode the ride for all it was worth with the disappointment that it’s all over. A good RPG takes lot of time and commitment, but with a good one no one seems to notice.
With that in mind, I wanted to like LostMagic SO MUCH. I wanted to play this game for hours, to sit in a nice quiet corner and just play it for hours. Imagine the crushing disappointment when this game turned out to be so sub-par.
The story begins with Isaac. A boy who’s spent much of his life training to be a mage. His natural ability assisted by the mystical Wand of Light—a mysterious gift from his father before his untimely death. One day, Isaac is sent on errands by his adopted grandmother and is taught his first rune.
This really is the coolest thing about the game. To cast spells, the player draws the appropriate rune on the touch screen using the stylus. The closer to the exact image of the rune you are, the more powerful the spell. Unfortunately, it’s the best thing about the game.
Isaac is just too outnumbered to square off against the forces of evil, and to even the score he must, in true Pokémon fashion, “capture” other monsters and build his own little army of darkness. This is where the game begins to suck. It loses the core of what makes it an RPG with lots of potential and becomes an annoying tactical simulator where Isaac becomes a supporting player instead of the focus of the game.
Combat requires casting spells, moving Isaac and managing your forces. This wouldn’t be too bad if the action wasn’t real-time and just too fast for you to effectively manage everything. Your forces have absolutely zero pathfinding skills, so micromanagement is a must. There’s also a time restriction on most encounters, so if you don’t win the day within a certain limit, you have to do the whole thing over again.
At the very least you’re able to save at anytime. With limited save points I would fear for the safety of my DS. Some of the spells you learn are pretty cool, and there are tons of them available, but throughout hours and hours of play I primarily wound up using the fire bolt, the capture rune (to capture new monsters) and heal…the rest just gathered dust.
The game’s sound is good, but repetitive. The graphics are anime standard, but nothing to write home about. Cutscenes are static images with text, which is to be expected with a DS title. Production values are good, but nothing to write home about.
Even with the drawbacks of the single-player experience, the multiplayer is pretty cool. Going PvP with your own army against a friend’s is remarkably fun. This is one thing Taito got right, and if there’s a LostMagic 2, they should keep and even enhance this feature of the game. It’s the only thing that gives LostMagic legs.
This title had so much potential. A unique storyline and a really cool spellcasting system could’ve made for something really great. If they would’ve chucked the allied creatures and time limits altogether, this game could’ve been fantastic. Instead, Taito took the ball and handed it to the other team of mediocrity and frustration. With Final Fantasy III looming on the horizon, RPGs for the DS need to raise the bar, and LostMagic failed.