Reviewed: August 20, 2005
Released: August 2, 2005
Shaman King started as a manga in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan, and in the same country it aired on TV Tokyo. In North America, the manga is currently being printed in Viz's Shonen Jump magazine, with edits to a few chapters. The Shaman King anime was licensed by 4Kids Entertainment for American television broadcasting in 2003 and is currently airing on 4Kids TV on Fox.
The Shaman Fight only occurs once every 500 years, and whoever wins becomes the Shaman King and can use the most powerful spirits ever. Asakura Yoh comes to Tokyo to train and become the Shaman King. Accompanied by many friends, he defeats many enemies and gains even more friends along and the way.
Yoh is a young shaman, one who can see and communicate with spirits. Shamans also have another power, the ability to unify with spirits and use the spirit's fighting skills. Yoh is training to become the Shaman King, the strongest among all Shamans. The title is only won by winning the Grand Tournament that takes place every 500 years. Helping him are his best friend Morty, a short kid who can also see ghosts, Amidamaru, an old samurai and his spirit partner, and his fiancť Ana, a spirit medium and his trainer. However, another Shaman family is trying to keep Yoh out of the tournament. Along the way he meets a many other misfit ghosts and wannabe Shamans.
While that is the main story of the series, the second installment of Shaman Kings for the GBA has a more direct story line.
Itís always hard to talk a lot about the gameplay of most basic Gameboy Advance games, and Master of Spirits 2 isnít different. However, it does do all the basics exceptionally well and it shows in every aspect of the game.
Like all of the other Shaman King games in the past you control the main character. This time around your goal is to track down and confront Zeke and stop him. You travel from place to place on a world map moving from point to point every two or three load times. Basically you move back and forth between the map and the stages fighting hordes of different enemies along the way. You also obtain many guardian ghosts and spirit upgrades during your adventure.
Guardian Ghosts are summoned using a deck feature in the game. You can set the decks up on the menu screen and then summon them by pressing the button you assigned them to. Doing this uses up your energy bar, also known as the Furyoku Gauge. This energy bar is also used up when you perform a special move, known as Spirit Control.
These attacks are powerful and are often used against difficult enemies/bosses. Most guardian ghosts are used for other special abilities (example: pushing a box). Between each stage you can save or visit the stop to sell and buy items. As for saving, it is extremely fast and instantaneous.
As far as controls are concerned, Konami really used the limited buttons in their favor by implementing the deck feature for spirit/ghost control. You wonít find anything wrong with the controls other than learning to use the deck feature, which is necessary to beat the game.
Some of the nicest GBA graphics are those that use multiple moving backgrounds to create a 3D effect and Shaman King 2 offers just that. Each creative level is beautifully rendered and colorful. The levels will immerse you in their design, and they reminded me of what 2D games were like during the Super NES era.
However, the graphics arenít cutting edge or 3D. They arenít anything gamers havenít seen before, but they are done really well in a tried and true way. A lot of GBA games donít even come close to being decent, so it came as a nice surprise to play a great looking game on my Gameboy.
Voice acting, sound effects, and background music are the main ingredients that people judge when thinking about how a game sounds. Most of the time we donít ask and/or expect a lot from simple GBA games, but that doesnít mean developers should neglect sound as a key aspect of their final product. Luckily, Konami didnít do any such thing and it shows with the nice variety of background music that never gets dull.
There are a wide variety of different noises and sound effects. On top of that, the voice acting (although limited) is top notch, straight from the TV show. Shaman King 2 keeps the sounds fresh and never annoying, as is the case with most Gameboy games.
This game doesnít offer anything in the way of multiplayer capabilities like in previous Shaman King GBA games like Shaman King: Legacy of the Spirits Soaring Hawk/Sprinting Wolf. However, this single player adventure takes you on a rather lengthy game, which is full of replay value for one reason: the gameplay is fun! With many short stages to play through, fun and quick action is not far away. This is one of those games you can take with you and play a quick 3-15 minuets, then put away again. Thatís the type of portable game I love to play, and also the main reason Iím looking forward to Nintendoís Gameboy Micro this fall.
The overall game takes no more than 4 hours to beat, but I found myself going back and fighting bosses over and over because it was fun. You can re-fight any boss in the game that you have already destroyed anytime you wish. Itís a nice feature that I wish more games had. The main value here is that this is an easy to load, quick to play and save game that offers up plenty of fun action gameplay.
Anyone can enjoy Shaman King: Master of Spirits 2 because of its great presentation, controls, music, and extremely fun gameplay mechanics. If you like action games and have been looking for a portable one, donít hesitate to pick up this fun, addicting, well-rounded game.