Reviewed: April 16, 2008
Released: April 8, 2008
Online Role-Playing Games are rapidly increasing more and more these days and offer a cheaper and often free alternative to their subscription based counterparts such as World of Warcraft. The downside to all of these free Online RPGs is that most of them are geared for older audiences, and there is very little available to the younger market. On the same note, it seems that the trading card or collectible card game market is not going down any time soon as well. So what may you ask is the point of these tidbits of information? Well I’ll have the answer for you in this review of Magi-Nation: Battle for the Moonlands for the PC.
Magi-Nation first made its appearance at the tail end of the Pokemon craze with its own card collecting gig and had a small gathering of followers for a while before fading out of the limelight. There was even a Gameboy Color game by the same name. Well here it is in the beginning of 2008 and we are presented with another take on the original title. The new title follows the new TV series that kicked off on the Kids’ WB this past September.
In Magi-Nation: Battle for the Moonlands you play as a young Magi (a magical being of sorts) that must stop the Evil Shadow Magi Agram from getting loose and wrecking havoc on the Moonlands. But he’s not your only problem; you also have to deal with the various Shadow Magi the wish to aid him.
Before I continue let me say that this free-to-play, web based title is mainly geared towards the 8-13 age group. The gameplay of Magi-Nation is amazingly simple with easy to navigate menus and locations. If you have ever played Pokemon or one of the hundred other clones out there, then this title will be easy to pick up on. The first time you sign in you are able to pick a race from the 4 available regions of the Moonlands: Naroom, Underneath, Orothe and Ardariel. You are then able to select your character’s gender and name. Then it’s off to save the Moonlands. The interface as mentioned above is very simple and easily navigated by clicking on the small icons at the bottom of the screen. During your missions you are even presented with a map that also is accessible with a click of the mouse.
I was rather impressed with Magi-Nation’s centralized mission “portal.” After a some what quick training program you gain access to this portal. There were a total of 4 available places to go in the preview and each area is unlocked as you progress through the 3 mission types in each area. While there is an objective, be it a timed hunt or finding a treasure chest at you own pace, you will run into wild Dream Creatures.
These Dream Creatures are basically elemental based creatures, much like those seen in titles like Pokemon and Digimon. These creatures vary from the flying creatures found in Ardariel to the burrowing creatures from the Underneath. Like Pokemon, you start out your journey with one Dream Creature and you must train it to get stronger and use it in battles to defeat the Shadow Magi and all of the wild Dream Creatures.
If you are fortunate to defeat you foes, you are often rewarded with “animate”, a magical stone that contains the essence of the creature. If you get enough “animate” from a certain creature you can have the pieces made into a different stone that operates much like a Poke Ball. You will then have that creature added to your inventory. Since this is an RPG, you can also level up your character as well as your Dream Creatures. As you fight you gain experience points and once you hit a certain number of point you can level up. You do have to level up your character manually, but that's really no big deal.
Along with gaining mad experience in battle you also some hard earned coin. You then in turn can cash in your coins to buy equipment. There is everything from armor to wands and even backpacks so you can hold more stuff available via a “shop” found in various locations in each region. Most of these items are stat changing when equipped on your character and they actually change your character’s appearance when worn. There are also several other goodies that you can use to disorient your opponents as well.
As I mentioned above, Magi-Nation is a free-to-play title. But for those seeking to further their experience, the micro-payment system is available for use. While it is not required to use the pay system it will allow those that wish to use it access to some other cool goodies. to gain access to the really good stuff in Magi-Nation you must either use a credit card, pay by cash, or by using the Magi-Nation Ultimate Game Cards (or UGC),which I will asssume will be available to buy soon. I had a chance to use this micropayment system and I found it pretty easy to use.
By visiting Poad, you can buy much cooler gear and artifacts that contain or do some pretty cool stuff that is available only to those that wish to partake in the micro system. When you are shopping at Poad's you can click on the "Buy Gems" tab in your inventory. From there you simply enter a redeem code found on the UGC and your email account associtaed with your account. This would be the easiest way since no credit card is involved to buy more gems. But there is the option to use a card for those adults that wish to go that route instead.
While the experience is mainly a single player experience there are times when you can go up against other Real World opponents in the Magi Arena. Here you can fight it out in a friendly environment to see who the better Magi is. And don’t worry you can always train up and fight as much as you want. However you must be level 10 or higer to enter the Magi-Arena. One of the things that I noticed while playing is that during some events, especially the timed ones that it took a long time for the battles to actually start, thus causing you to fail an occasionally task.
The world of Magi-nation is displayed in an isometric 3D world. This means that players will see their characters in a semi 3D environment and will be able to interact with the non-playable characters that inhabit the world. The graphics of Magi-Nation are pretty decent, and won’t overload the senses like the handheld versions will. There are animated battle movements and attacks that I’m sure kids of any age will enjoy. Like I said above, this title is very much like Pokemon, in both style and functionality. The menus are very clean and legible so you won’t have trouble seeing or reading what’s on the screen.
As far as the sounds and sound effects go in Magi-Nation, I think they are pretty good for what I heard. There is a cool little sword sound when each battle starts and pretty neat fighting sounds when the creatures attack each other as well. The background music of Magi-Nation differs from which area of the Moonland you are currently visiting. and each have their own unique sound that was quite enjoyable. All information is given through text as well so there isn't any voice acting to be heard.
Magi-Nation: Battle for the Moonlands is one of those titles that takes its roots from popular games like Pokemon and Digi-mon. This tile's style and functionality make it really easy to pick up on and play. I had no trouble what so ever navigating the worlds and being able to duel with other real life perople is actually pretty cool. I think if Magi-nation didn't have that feature available to players then it would been as fun. As I have mentioned several times this title is Free-to-Play, which adds to its appeal for both adults and children. Adults can have the piece of mind knowing that Magi-Nation: Battle for the Moonlands is completely safe to play online with out paying a dime while their childen can enjoy playing this entertaining title.
All in all, I was quite impressed with Magi-Nation: Battle for the Moonlands. As I mentioned before, there are so few titles out there for the younger gaming audience as far as free online gaming is concerned. It is nice to see that there are companies out there that still cater to the young ones and deliver good quality entertainment. I’m 26 and I found this title highly entertaining myself. I highly recommend this title for parents that are looking for something new for their kids to play, without the hastle and intricacy of the bigger subscription based games.