Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times Review for Nintendo DS

Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times Review for Nintendo DS

Magic Crossing

Although no game exists in a vacuum, when a title deliberately imitates another, one can’t help but make a direct comparison. Such a comparison can be made between Animal Crossing and Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times.

Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times screenshot

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At their most basic level, these games are identical. Each one involves a new resident in a town who has to gather fruits, fish, and bugs to make money as well as make new friends. Both games even have a similar visual style. But there are a few important differences between the two, and the more I played this game, the more subtle differences I noticed.

When you first start the game up, the similarities to Animal Crossing will be very noticeable. You begin by talking to a stranger about yourself, and you are able to give yourself a name as well as the new school you are about to attend. However, you can directly choose how your face looks in the beginning, which is a nice option. The game also lets you know early on that everything will be in real-time, so if you are playing at 1 a.m. in your time, it will be 1 a.m. in the land of Magician’s Quest. Additionally, you will have to visit this land regularly if you want to keep your studies (as well as your social relationships) in good standing.

Once you get into town, you’ll be able to tour the dormitory as well as your room, which is very small and empty. You can decorate your space with different furniture and accessories and eventually upgrade your space entirely. However, to do all this you are going to need money.

Getting money in the game is very simple: sell what you find. You can take on a part-time job for one of the shopkeepers to make even more money, but her jobs usually entail finding a specific item around town, so it’s not too stressful. Doing jobs for the shopkeeper also nets you some special items, so it is worth it to do some specific jobs every once and awhile.

Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times screenshot

Even though decorating your space and making some cash is how you might spend a lot of your time, the main focus of the gameplay is the magic education element. As I mentioned above, the game revolves around your time at a magic school, and learning magic makes up a big component of the gameplay.

I have to say that at first the magic aspect of the game completely turned me off. In order to learn spells, you will have to attend classes, and once you get past the first 20 classes or so, that act as the tutorial, you have already lost two hours – all you have learned are the basics (like how to activate your wand and get around town.)

Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times screenshot

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After the tutorial lessons are over, you will be able to learn a new handful of spells everyday. Most of these spells are completely useless at first, and they are specific to situations which may or may not occur later in the game (depending on what your goals are.) Since the game takes the same open-world approach as Animal Crossing, the gameplay is self-directed, and you can just leave the magic lessons alone if you want.

If you do decide to stick with it, though, the magic lessons can be a lot of fun. You’ll learn a lot of different kinds of spells, including social spells which can improve your relationships with your classmates. The social aspect in Magician’s Quest is actually a lot deeper than the social aspects of Animal crossing, and you can even cast love spells over classmates with whom you have a strong relationship.

In addition to using your magic on classmates, you can also use your magic to solve mysteries. This is the most directed aspect of the gameplay, and although you don’t have to participate in solving the mysteries, it is a fun way to use the spells that you have learned in class. This type of add-on is definitely an asset to the game as a whole, and it definitely is an improvement on the Animal Crossing formula.

Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times screenshot

However, the game does have its issues. My biggest problem with the game was just how slow it was. Of course, this type of game isn’t something you are supposed to burn through, but it took me several days just to get enough magic lessons under my belt to actually start doing things around town. The plodding pace is also compounded by the fact that the game takes way to long to tell you the most basic of actions.

For example, to learn how to sell items, you have to attend a class, sit down while the instructor tells you how to open a menu (which, by this point in the game, you have probably already done several times) and then answer a question about opening the menu. These lessons normally take about two or three minutes, but when you add them up, these seemingly superfluous tutorials (which you MUST undergo if you are hoping to use the magic component) really add up over time, and it is easy to lose interest after a few hours of going through pointless lessons.

In addition to playing by yourself, you can also invite up to three other friends to your town to participate in mystery-solving and running around the town. This feature is very entertaining, and if you have friends with whom you can share friend codes, exploring each other’s towns adds a great new element to the gameplay.

The visual style and sound scheme of the game are both eerily similar to Animal Crossing. The residents even sound like they speak a dialect of Animalese! This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the cutesy style of the music and the visuals translates well with this title. Although the graphics aren’t incredibly detailed, they are bright and cheery, and the world of Magician’s Quest certainly looks appealing.

Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times is definitely a game targeted at those who enjoy Animal Crossing. Although many of the elements of the game (like fishing, catching bugs, and working) are lifted directly from Animal Crossing, the magic and mystery elements add a great new focused component to the game. If you enjoy open-world real-time gameplay, this title is definitely worth picking up. The gameplay may be a little slow, but it draws you in fast!

Cutesy visuals are charming and functional. There isn’t a whole lot of detail, but the world of Magician’s Quest still manages to be appealing. 3.8 Control
Moving around and performing basic actions are easy enough, but the spell catalog system as well as some of the menus are a bit cumbersome. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is very cutesy, and the Animalese-like voiceover is fun to listen to. 3.6

Play Value
Although the game is very slow to start, once you get into it there is plenty of fun to be had if you like the Animal Crossing formula.

3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • 1,500 customizable features including clothing, characters, spell upgrades, furniture and accessories
  • 52 mysterious adventures for players to solve using their magic abilities
  • 150 in game characters each with unique reactions depending on how players interact
  • Time based evolution ranging from day to night, week to week over 365 days
  • Single player story mode, 2 player co-op or 4 player co-operative play
  • Use the standard alphabet or magic alphabet to chat with any player via Wi-Fi

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