TITLE: Magi Death Fight
PUBLISHER: Takuyo Kougyo
DATE RELEASED: 2002
This is one of the low budget Xbox games that don't seem to get published in America that Japan seems to be positively flooded with. I might review some more later if I get the inclination.
This game would seem to be more at home on the N64 or even maybe the SNES than the Xbox. This is both its strength and its weakness. A simple party game in the same vein as classics like Bomberman, games of this type are simply not published for the Xbox. Even for party games which are designed to be easy to pickup and learn, it seems that these days if it doesn’t have 3D graphics and require a million buttons to play, no one is interested in developing them.
So about the game. This is a four player party game, with a top down view, not unlike Bomberman as I noted above. The graphics are definitely nothing to write home about, nor is the sound. All menus are in Japanese, but without too much trouble you can figure out how to get the game playing. You might not get every little nuance like how to set what items are available in multiplayer, but you’ll be able to play the game.
Each player plays a cutesy little anime apprentice mage at wizard school. There are two choices of play mode, a cooperative/single-player campaign mode and competitive PvP.
In general the game works like the following. You spawn in an arena, all of which is visible at all times. The arena consists of walls that form obstacles to your fire and movement. Multi-colored balls of magic energy float around randomly in the arena, four colors in total, and these can be picked up. When you pick up a ball, it falls into orbit around your character. This ball of energy can be fired at your foes, and by holding down the fire button you can control how far the ball shoots. The balls do no damage until the end of their travel, at which point they explode, damaging whatever is beneath them. If you take damage, then you lose a life and your character will respawn again if you have any lives left. These balls bounce off walls, and if you are not careful, you can hit yourself (unless you have that option disabled, but it is enabled by default).
Additionally, various methods of powering up your shots increase the depth of play. You can pick up in total four balls of energy to orbit your character before you can pick up no more. If you collect all of one color, then this charges up your blast to be much more powerful than simply your regular fired ball. For example, a full four blue water magics will cause a stream of water to be released at the end of your shot, flowing “down” the screen from that point through all walls and obstacles and hitting everything underneath its path. If you collect one of each color, then this will cause you to release an eightway explosion of regular shots careening randomly in every direction; if you’re not careful though this is frequently as lethal to yourself as to everyone else. Any other combination of one, two, three or four balls all just fires a single regular ball.
The last element to the battles is powerups. These take the form of chests scattered randomly around the battlefield that spawn during your battle. They’re opened by being hit by one of the magic balls, and inside are various powerups (as well as powerdowns) that affect your character in various ways. These include boosting your speed, homing shots, guided shots, and just about everything else you could imagine for a game like this.
In the campaign mode, you and your friends battle cooperatively against monsters in various arenas throughout the schools different themed zones. For example, in the school’s pool the arena is blue and the monsters tend to be water themed. In actuality not much difference exists between the different arenas however. While somewhat fun initially, this mode quickly grows tedious as the levels are very similar, and after a while the enemies all seem very similar as well. I don’t know if there is an ending or not, since after investing a very bored several hours into this, my game crashed, and I wasn’t about to do that again.
The multiplayer deathmatch is where the game shines. You can play with up to four players, as well as filling in computers at varying levels of skill. While the computer AI is decent, even at its most difficult level, I didn’t have too much trouble beating it once I got good at the game. Players can play every man for themselves or in teams, and after each round you get a nice summary of kills and standings. The multiplayer experience is extremely customizable with just about every variable user-configurable, but this is all in Japanese, so it can be daunting, but with trial and error the meanings of most dialogs can be figured out.
Overall, the game is fairly fun, and it fills a niche that is sorely under-represented on the Xbox. Whenever my friends who aren’t gamers come over and we try and play a game, we invariable run into the problem that games now are just too complicated for the casual non-gamer to just pick up and be able to expect to play. They just don’t make simple, fun games for the Xbox anymore, and Magi Death Fight is a token game that fills that niche. With only two buttons and a very simple game-play concept this is something that anyone can pick up and quickly be able to play with a reasonable degree of proficiency. Unfortunately, the Japanese menus may prove to be a problem for this goal of simple gameplay, and in the end due to its very strength of simplicity, I’m not sure I would pay much money for this game, certainly not the costs to import it.
Magi Death Fight, Japanese Ntsc
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