Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements (NES)

Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements Box Art

Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements

System: NES

Release Date: July 1990

Developer: Natsume

Publisher: Taito

Genre: RPG

Unite the five elements to save the world in Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements. I hate to do this, but spoiler alert, I find this genre of game practically unplayable on console. The story has you traveling the world to gain control over five elemental schools of magic. I couldn’t do it.

You start off planted in town with people swarming you. If you want them to move, talk to them with the A Button. The old man is helpful by giving you a magic compass that tells you the direction you’re moving. Someone else tells you to see the king for a weapon and some money. Another talks about becoming a wizard’s apprentice. Around town are five wizards that you can learn an elemental magic under. The others become available through the game. The manual says the water element is the best for beginners. In the magic tab, you can set a combination of runes. The manual gives you 11 combinations out of a possible 4096. In practice there aren’t that many different combos, but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

Bumbling into the wilderness, you may run into a cobra. You can attack, but you’re unarmed, so good luck actually killing one of these. If you’re unlucky, multiple may surround you. If you’re lucky, you can stumble into the castle. Wandering around this place for awhile puts you in contact with the king, who does hook you up. The problem I had was that I pressed the wrong button combination to equip the sword.

Pressing start allows you to switch between the attack, item, magic, action, and camp tabs. I was pressing the A Button with the sword highlighted, thinking it was then equipped, but I still wasn’t hitting these cobras for anything. It took me 45 minutes to press the B Button on the sword to equip it. At this point, I could kill cobras pretty quickly and I felt good. Then the game mechanics got to me. The more enemies you kill, the more fatigued you become, causing you to hit for less. The more damage you take, the less you hit for.

In camp, you can consume food and water to replenish your hit points. This is usually preferred to staying at the Inn, though it’s more expensive. This is because the more you stay at the Inn, the stronger enemies become. You’re better off spending the 2 gold when you want enemies to respawn or you need to reset your fatigue. To get anywhere in Dungeon Magic, you have to become a master of the Combat Waltz. Running in to attack and running away before the enemy can get you back. This is horribly implemented because of low framerate and lackluster animations. I died over and over again, got lost, and decided I’d be better off bailing.

Graphics: 1.5

It looks alright, but the framerate is too low for my enjoyment.

Sound: 1.5

The sound effects are super rough, but the music is decent.

Gameplay: 0.5

The controls are not optimized for the NES. A keyboard is necessary for the number of things that need to be done in real time.

Difficulty: 0.5

I highly doubt the game becomes more fair as it’s all down to RNGesus favoring you.

Fun Factor: 0.0

This is one of the few games that I couldn’t quit fast enough.

Overall Rating: 0.8

Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements earns a D. I’m betting there is a hardcore fanbase for this one. I’m glad you enjoy it, but I couldn’t.

Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements Video Review on YouTube