Magician (NES)

Magician Box Art


System: NES

Release Date: March 1990

Developer: Eurocom

Publisher: Taxan

Genre: Action Adventure

I was kind of dreading finally getting to Magician. I usually randomize the month’s games and then look at manuals to get an idea of what to expect. The Magician manual had me worried that I might be in for a long RPG and I kept punting it down the line. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been so worried. Magician isn’t an RPG, it’s an action adventure, and a lot shorter than I expected. A cadre of magicians and wizards controlled most of everything in the land of Merlwood and things were good. Tired of helping people, the most powerful of the crew, Abadon, decided to go into business for himself and take over.

As Paul, apprentice magician, it’s up to you to travel east to Abadon’s castle. There are eight levels that take you from the opening town to the wizard’s lair. Along the way, you’ll find enemies that need to be put down and shops that need to be entered. In order to defeat Abadon, you must find the vials of Air, Earth, Water, and Fire, and combine them into the Ultimate Potion. Only with that can you save the land.

Paul needs to constantly eat and drink in his quest. There’s a food meter, water meter, health meter, mana meter, and venom meter. Along with four types of shields that can be built up by magic. The food and water meters need to be kept up in order to replenish the health and mana meters. The maximum mana increases as you complete adventure game style tasks. The levels are linear and require you do certain things to move along. NPCs can be talked to and some will be useless, but others will give you important information to help you along your way.

You can purchase spells from a shop or, if you remember them, enter them on the pause menu. Spells are split into attacking and utility. The utility spells may give you a hint on what to do, reveal hidden areas, allow you to fly, and more. The attacking spells are split into four schools: physical, venom, fire, and power. Each with four levels of strength. You’ll typically stick with fireball or lightning. You need to be quick with your attacks, as enemies regenerate rapidly. They may also have shields up, as well, requiring a lot of attacks.

Enemies have their own strengths and weaknesses that you have to learn. Physical battles aren’t the only obstacle in your path, as there are also puzzles that keep you from treasure. Resting from mana drain will kill you a lot, as it did me. You can get different staves that cast magic for free, but they are typically the weakest form of the spell. Figuring out the way around the level’s obstacles is the main gameplay hook and are good the first time around. After defeating Abadon, you are challenged to a second and even third playthrough, each more difficult.

Graphics: 3.0

I found the graphics to be quite novel. There was a lot of thought and detail put into the art direction.

Sound: 3.5

Music and sounds are all really good. They had a good handle on the capabilities of the system.

Gameplay: 2.5

Paul controls fine and has a lot of different options for attack, but most of them are useless.

Difficulty: 2.0

Running out of mana and having to sit around for it to replenish while you run out of water and food is an unfortunate choice, but it’s what we got.

Fun Factor: 1.5

Here’s the kicker, I didn’t really enjoy playing Magician a whole lot. It was fine, but not something I’d want to play again.

Overall Grade: 2.5

Magician earns a B-. If you want an RPG lite, give this one a try. It shouldn’t take more than a few hours.