Reviewed: February 27, 2005
Released: February 8, 2005
Yet another anime series has been imported to the US, and if they can bring the cartoon, why not the tie in game that goes along with it? Thus, you have before you Konamiís answer to Pokemon, Shaman King Legacy of the Spirits: Soaring Hawk and Shaman King Legacy of the Spirits: Sprinting Wolf.
Shaman King Features:
So, uuuh, get out your Mortuary Tablets and try to catch them all?
Rhyming coincidences aside, Shaman King plays very similar to Pokemon. You wander around collecting spirits which you can then level up or combine to create new spirits. Shaman King does break the mold a little, by not allowing you to capture spirits at will, but instead you can only pick up spirits from fights related to advancing the plot. Your spirits have various attributes, as do their attacks, so you do have to employ some strategy in which spirits to include in your group, or which ones to create.
The interface is a little different than normal using a group of circles instead of the normal text boxes, but combat is basically a race to the bottom where you can switch out spirits in combat and everyone gets XP.
And thatís essentially it. You progress through fights and events that are scripted, advance the plot and do so again. Itís repetitive, but kind of fun and pretty low impact in terms of planning. Also since your save location is available pretty much all the time and it heals everyone completely, it nearly inspires abusive use, and power leveling.
What makes this game a real low rent version of the Poke-franchise is that instead of having some fully realized characters, all you see for most of the game is head shots of various spirits against a static background. Instead of having little animations or effects to signify attacks all you see are text scrolls saying which thing attacked and what they used and how much damage it did. Riveting, I tell you.
The characters wandering around the world and the backgrounds are well detailed, and the spirit artwork is good, but thereís nothing here jumping off the screen with vibrant colors and fluid animation.
Why is it that when a company decides to put a slap-dash project like this together they randomly do something actually passable which not only is something that no one pays attention to (though they should) but also is not the most important thing to worry about? Weíll forget about the vagaries of employment within a large corporation for the moment, and just wonder about why the sound for a game like this is in any way respectable.
The GBA being the platform it is, sound isnít the top-of-the-list concern I would think, but for some reason, where character detail and animation take a back seat, in this game you get good sound. Not great sound mind you, just good sound. The music tracks are pretty generic Ė if youíre in ďChinaĒ then you get vaguely Chinese music and so forth Ė but there are a wealth of distinctive tracks in here.
Sound effects I canít be so positive about. The combat sounds are essentially an impact effect repeated no matter what, with a trill if there is some positive effect.
In case you havenít picked up on the theme yet, itís this: Konami makes a cheap knock-off of Pokemon in order to capitalize on the success, or hoped for success, of ďShaman KingĒ being aired on Fox. The significant portion of that last bit was that I am going to the trouble to describe a series tie-in game as cheap. Ordinarily the fact that this is a tie-in game would be enough to clue you in to that fact.
In this case repetition serves for emphasis. This is a cheap tie-in game, so all of the failings you would expect to find here are in spades. It has some selling points, sure, but for the most part it is short, with a loose story that doesnít get resolved at all, and thatís about what youíre looking at.
This isnít the worst game Iíve ever played for the GBA, and I did walk through it all the way so that says something for play value, but, honestly, unless you have some little relative who is just begging and begging and begging and begging you to get this for them then Iíd say stay way from it. Unless, that is, you are looking for something short and mindless to distract yourself with and you find a good price on this in the bargain bins.