Retro Saga part 3: Magician Lord Review

SNK has always come out with some classic arcade games, like Metal Slug and King of Fighters, though one thing I haven’t seen them do is a plat-forming game for the arcade. They usually do just beat ‘em ups, shoot ‘em ups, and fighting games. It isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t think I would want to stick to it all the time. One day however, I learned about a game that SNK made, called Magician Lord. So, is this a fun game? Or is this magician all out of tricks?

Basically, there is an evil wizard named Gal Agiese, who is taking over the land, and ruling it with an iron fist. It is up to the last of the magician lords, Elta, to travel across the land and stop all of Gal Agiese’s forces and get the 8 magical tomes to stop him. First of all, I’m surprised that the main hero is a wizard. Usually in games like this, they are usually swordsmen of some kind, so I like how he is a magician and not some buff swordsman with long blonde hair.

The game play is of an arcade side scrolling plat-former where you control Elta and go through multiple dungeons to fight the mini boss and the main boss at the end. Your basic form of attack is a blue energy wave. You can also find power-ups, which can transform Elta into something else. The first one you will find will turn you into a dragon-like warrior that can breath fire. The others include a samurai with a strong attack but low range, a water warrior that can shoot tidal waves, and a ninja that shoots fire balls,, just to name a few of the forms. This game reminds me of Castlevania, since it’s much more of an action plat-former, and not as much on puzzle solving.

Graphics-wise, this game looks amazing, though I am not surprised, since SNK does a great job on making a terrific-looking 2D side-scroller. The design for Elta is really cool looking. It looks like a 16-bit version of the black mage from Final Fantasy. The monsters are also cool looking, and look like they were ripped right from Super Castlevania 4 or something. The music is nice to hear, and it pumps you up when you are getting ready to fight the monsters and bosses inside the dungeon or castle. Overall, it’s just SNK doing their job at making a good-looking video game.

Though this magician is strong, there are a couple rough edges to his talent that I feel like I should address. The difficulty is just mind blowing! I mean it’s so random, like in most areas, you are going to be fine, and then they throw you to some stupidly difficult area, and it just frustrates me. It isn’t fair, and it ruins the pace of the game. You also can’t move and shoot at the same, which bugs me since the enemies can do that while you can’t. You also can’t shoot through the walls, and of course the enemies can. You take too much damage quickly, which sucks, since you can have up to 5 health bars and they can be quickly drained if you’re not careful. Sometimes, the boss fights are just too tedious. For example, the first couple of bosses are hard as heck, and then the next boss is stupidly easy. It’s like they accidentally mixed up the bosses while programming the game. The final gripe I have is with Elta’s pacing. He is too slow, and he feels like a tank. He should be able to run and duck if he has to.

Okay, so this won’t be on someone’s favorite game of all time, but it is a fun game. I would check it out for yourself if you are trying to find NeoGeo games, or you can get it off the Wii’s virtual console, though I would recommend playing it on SNK Classics Volume 1. Let’s just hope they can make a sequel to this game. It should have potential since it seems like SNK won’t stop making King of Fighters games.

This game gets a 7 out of 10.