• Takt Of Magic review - Nintendo Wii

    Picture the scene: the director puts his hand into the Hat of Clichéd Scenarios and pulls out... Number 31 – Young Prince with Memory Loss Who is Heir to a Kingdom Currently Under the Rule of Darkness. The plot has been decided on and it's up to the scriptwriter to flesh out the characters and add a lot more cheese. They'll also need a semi-dramatic yet mellow score, to reflect on what has been lost and the trials that lay ahead.

    Alright, so that dastardly 'C' word has already been thrown around, but does it really affect the game? No, it doesn't. As the story evolves through the twists and turns it never really weighs on the player, probably because this is not a turn-based RPG and there is no time to think about the plot while playing. A Real-Time Strategy RPG; where you write Runes on the screen with the Wiimote to cast magic spells. "Argh!" screams the gaming public, "The Wii has ruined gaming! Next you'll be telling us you wave the Wiimote to do special things with the magic!" The latter is also true, with the movements depending on which spell has been cast. The basic Wind Rune is essentially a 'C' shape. Hold down the Z button (or hold the nunchuk upright if that's the setting being used) and draw it from top to bottom. The recognition of the shapes of the various runes works quite well, unless the player is really rushing. However, the more practice, the faster they can be successfully drawn. Release Z (or lower the nunchuk) and press A to release the magic, in this case a wind attack. Twisting the Wiimote clockwise or anti-clockwise will then re-direct the stream in that respective direction.

    How well does this player-centric element mesh with the RTS-style play? To answer this, other parts of the gameplay need to be explained. To start with, the only characters the player has are Orville (said prince with memory loss), with his initial single magic rune, and Charlotte, his friend. As the stages go on Orville can rescue monsters that can then be part of his team, and meet other people who become his 'Guardians'. Guardians are essentially people who protect Orville while he's casting magic. Before each stage begins, the player chooses up to three parties to form their team. Any combination of monsters and guardians is possible, all have their respective strong/weak points. Monsters can capture ManaGates but once one has died they cannot be revived. Guardians have a small team of their own monsters called 'Regios' which can be revived provided that guardian is alive. However, they cannot capture ManaGates, which are essential to using more powerful magics. Balance is the key.

    With a full team of four units (Orville plus three teams), it begins to feel more like what an RTS should be, and the multi-tasking can begin. Sun-Tzu said that one should never fight a battle on two fronts. In all fairness to him, he had never played Command & Conquer, or this. Attacking two groups of enemies is not a great idea unless you plan it well. Directing the units to points, or to attack enemies, is as straightforward as would be expected – hover the cursor over the unit, or picture of the unit, if they're off screen, press and hold A and B together and then release them over the target. While holding A+B, extra information is displayed in the battle field such as walls that can be demolished, areas that can't be walked through, etc. Enemy units have a crossed-swords symbol over them to show they can be attacked. It's easy enough to send some monsters to capture an undefended ManaGate while using other units to defeat the enemy around the next. Whether Orville helps them or does his own thing is up to the player. The control stick is used to scroll over the map, or the D-pad can be used to jump to a particular unit. Keeping track of who is attacking and who is being attacked is important.

    The game boasts over one hundred magic spells, and these come from the different combinations of the ten runes that are learnt as the game goes on. 'Sing-runes' are where just one is used, 'Doub-runes' are two combined, and the mysterious 'Trip-runes' are three. Those who have bad memories may have trouble remembering the combinations here, and unfortunately there is no reference that can be checked while playing through a stage. There is an encyclopaedia that can be used to look up the magic that results from the various combinations, which also gives details of how moving the Wiimote can increase the range or direction of the spell. Making this reference available during the stages would have been a good idea, as the player may come across a puzzle that can only be solved by knowing one particular combination of runes. Without it, they have no choice but to quit back to the map screen. More than a little frustrating, but an excellent reminder to players that it's important to investigate the new magic they can do after learning a new rune.

    The Wii handles the world in which Orville and the others exist very well, and there are lots of nice touches like the way the wind blows the grass and the flow of the rivers, which add a little more to it. This is a Wii game, though, so there is no super-realism. The visuals are fine for what they are and the way the magics are animated couldn't have been improved. The collision detection at times when there are many things going on on-screen can feel rather vague, but tends to always favour the player by adding just that little extra reach to the periphery of the attack.

    Aside from the Story mode, there are also short quests in which certain tasks must be achieved. Like the stages of the main game, these only last from two to around ten minutes. The main difference is that most involve a limitation to what magic can be used. The player is than simply unable to perform any spells other than the one or two specified. The length of these quests and the other stages is just right. There are no long, drawn-out, tedious battles lasting hours, and conversely they're not so short as to be over in seconds. There is an excellent balance between the two. That being said, many quests and stages cannot be done the first time. Learning the movements of the enemy and what attacks are performed by the bosses does require study on occasion. At no point does it get boring though, that 'just one more try' feeling is ever-present.

    Score: 6/10
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