Oh boy, this is a doozy. In another addition to their Neo Geo Station, SNK releases their classic arcade platformer, Magician Lord. Does it hold up after all this time?
Magician Lordis the story of Elta, the last Magician Lord. His ancient predecessor sealed away an evil wizard named Gal Agiese, who has escaped with plans to resurrect his dark god. To do that, he needs eight magic tomes. Elta must use his magical powers to get to them first.
Graphically, the game looks bright and detailed, and the sprites look pretty damn interesting. The music also pounds away with awesome fighting tunes. In addition to jumping and shooting blasts of magic in four directions, Elta can collect items that transform him into different creatures, like Sega’s classic Altered Beast. Those forms are: Dragon Warrior, Shinobi, Poseidon, Raijin, Samurai and Waterman.
Each have unique attacks to them, and increase Elta’s health bar. And that is the start of all the problems.
Magician Lord is an arcade game first and foremost. That means that it’s designed to make you lose as soon as you can so you’d stick another coin in. I mean it; this game is hard as any game I’ve ever played. Chakan and Ninja Gaiden hard. Elta’s health bar when you start is small – only three hits to death. You can extend it with transformations, but there’s so many enemies that you will lose all that health until you memorize the pattern. That’s what this game requires more than anything – if you can remember where every enemy is at every moment, you will be fine. But that takes a lot of tries.
The other problem is the stiff controls. Elta walks very slowly, regardless of his form. This can get aggravating with all the flying enemies dropping things on you. And no matter what, it never feels fast enough when you jump or attack. So like I said, you have to remember every enemy’s place in order to make it through this game.
Magician Lord isn’t a bad game. It’s just really really really REALLY hard. Only the brave and patient need apply.