|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Hitmaker||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: NIS America||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 6, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
I've played a lot of JRPGs in my life. I've also watched a lot of anime. I understand that, in both of these mediums, there are a fair amount of clichés and conventions that are employed to make the media feel familiar and comfortable for its intended audience. While I don't mind the occasional repeated element or cliché, sometimes too many of these familiar elements are jam-packed into a game, and it starts to lose its originality. A Witch's Tale is one such title.
In fact, after playing A Witch's Tale, I began to think that the writers behind it just copied and pasted clichés and then filled in some dialog. The story in the game goes like this: You start your adventure off as a spoiled, bratty magical girl who wants to become the best witch in the world without any effort. Sound familiar? Let's keep going. She finds a magical dungeon, which houses an ancient evil, and then accidentally sets it free. At first, she takes no responsibility, but with the help of a bishie-style vampire, she is able to become a more mature magical girl and grow her powers to well I won't spoil the ending, but I'm sure you know where this is going.
Although the story is basically a paint-by-numbers collage of anime and JRPG clichés, I have no doubt that there is an audience for this type of story. Sure, it's predictable, but if you know someone who likes that sort of thing, then they'll probably eat it up. What they might not like so much, however, is the game's insane difficulty. And by insane, I mean insanely easy.
While there are certainly plenty of RPGs that are made for kids, (My World, My Way springs to mind) this one, while certainly appropriate for the younger sect, distills the RPG format down to such a basic level that its hard to imagine even a tween finding much enjoyment from this title. Each level has several linear areas you can traverse through, and your goal for each level will be to clear a series of barriers to save the ruler of the land from a curse that was put upon them by the great evil the witch unleashed in the beginning.
While this sounds mildly interesting, the game doesn't even allow you to try and figure out the basics of each level. Characters and well-placed signs will give you nothing short of step by step directions for how to clear each level, and you'll rarely have to figure anything out by yourself.
Unfortunately, this extreme simplicity extends past the unchallenging levels. The battle system is also exceedingly simple, and it will probably be the most annoying facet of the game for those who pick it up based on their affection for other NIS titles (looking at you, Disgaea!) When you enter battle, the game has you dragging physical or magic attacks into a tray that represents all the enemies. Once you have deposited your chosen attack, the attacks will connect with the enemy, and then they will be able to retaliate.
The only interesting facet about the battle system is a customizable doll mechanic. In a move that should not be all that surprising, the main character is able to use a plushy that can also use magic (another cliché, surprise!). This doll can be upgraded and outfitted with its own special attacks and powers. You can also purchase other dolls, with varying powers, which can actually be pretty interesting.