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Thread: Magi Nation (GBC)

  1. #1
    ServBot (Level 11) Edmond Dantes's Avatar
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    Default Magi Nation (GBC)

    Damn... I ask again, what IS it with me and games about summoning monsters lately?

    And also, all the games I've been talking about (with the sole exception of Master of Monsters) have had their basis in a trading card game. But here's the thing about Magi Nation: I didn't KNOW there was a card game before I played this GBC game. Indeed, this game does very little to advertise its origins.

    How I learned about this was kinda random. See not long ago there was a cartoon called "Magi Nation." I saw an episode, thought it was okay but not that interesting, and wrote it off as another Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh wannabe. Then I happened to see this GBC game for five dollars at Game Xchange. That caught me off guard because the cartoon seemed relatively recent, but a GBC game implied there was some franchise history I was unaware of. So I payed the five bucks... and it turned out to be five bucks well spent.

    Now, here's the story,
    of a boy named Tony,
    who found himself in a magic fantasy kinda world...

    Admittedly I'm not very far in the game yet, however even early on I had positive impressions. The game has a very cute style, which seems to mix anime with a Disney fairytale aesthetic (just look at the icon for Pruitt the ringsmith and you'll see what I mean... would probably be easier if I actually supplied pictures with my posts...) It's game mechanics, despite their TCG origins, actually reminded me of an obscure NES game called Legend of the Ghost Lion which happens to be one of my favorites, the narrative manages to overcome a lot of the problems I have with games like Pokemon, and.... well, I'll save the best thing for a few paragraphs down.

    So here's the thing:

    Magi Nation is a "mons" game. The hero, Tony Jones, soon learns about a substance called Animite, which is normally money, but sometimes contains essences of dream creatures. Such animite can be forged into rings and, from rings, the creatures can be summoned. However, unlike Pokemon and other such games, Tony can also join the fray himself once he has magic spells (which you get one right at the start).

    Despite the obvious Mons inspiration, this was where it reminded me of Ghost Lion, as in that game the heroine Maria also primarily summoned creatures to her aid even though she could fight on her own. The difference is that Ghost Lion used a magic points system, whereas Magi Nation casts everything from Tony's hit points, with generous systems in place for restoring the lost HP (for example, any creatures still alive at the end of battle give their HP back to Tony). This changes the dynamic, where in Ghost Lion you had to weigh the cost and decide whether you should save your MP for a tougher fight, Magi Nation basically encourages you to always summon something.

    This, by the way, is where the game corrects some issues I had with Pokemon (one of the most boring and overrated RPG franchises ever, by the way). For one, battles can be up to four-versus-four. At a time when Pokemon was still doing one-on-one. For another, the in-game explanation for monster summoning makes the situation a lot less morally questionable. Let's face it: Pokemon was about a dumb kid kidnapping wild animals and forcing them to fight life-or-death battles purely for his benefit, while he himself stands back and gives orders without taking any risk to himself. Tony meanwhile is always at risk, and since the monsters are cast from his own hit points it could be argued that they're manifestations of his own spirit, ergo he's the one doing the fighting, not some innocent creature. Pokemon trainers are wusses, to put it bluntly.

    Also, Tony's dream creatures can be leveled up without having to battle--you just pay Pruitt the ringsmith for it. As you can imagine though, its likely better to just do some battlin'. I'm also not completely sure Magi Nation embodies a "collect 'em all" mentality, as if I remember correctly there's actually a limit to how many rings you can have, so it might not be possible to own one of each creature. I could be wrong on that point though--if anyone knows for sure, please correct me.

    But here's the thing that sold me on Magi Nation:

    It has a sense of humor.

    Right off the bat, the game reveals what it's all about by how it introduces Tony Jones: Some kids are talking about going into a cave, then Tony comes up and they start calling him "Foney Bones" to goad him into going in. Tony's reaction is less offended and more "seriously, are you that stupid?" It doesn't let up once he gets to the fantasy world, where he can't understand the local language immediately and instead keeps thinking people are saying weird things like "blimp spork." The main plot involves an old dude thinking Tony is the resurrection of a legendary mage named Kyros, but even this is treated lightly as its pointed out that dude had been making that claim about basically everyone for the last few weeks. As it happens though, Tony may be necessary for the solving of this local situation involving these towers called Shadow Geysers which suddenly came out of the ground and are, well, bad.

    Much of the humor comes from Tony's own attitude. He's very much not having any of this, and when a character has an annoying quirk, Tony is just as annoyed as the player... if he's not mocking it (which is sometimes the form "yes or no" questions come in). He's a good kid and willing to do what's right, but that doesn't mean he can't snark about it.

    It's also the right kind of humor--the kind that doesn't go overboard. I've always said that good comedy still features situations you can take seriously, and this game does that... the humor never comes at an unwelcome moment. I'm very tempted to compare this game to Earthbound, but that's not quite accurate, particularly since Earthbound is Japanese and Magi Nation is British, and the two games rather highlight the differences in each culture's approach to humor, with the Japanese prefering outright wackiness while the British prefer more subtle commentary. It's not quite as hilarious as Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but the fact that Magi Nation doesn't have a stick up its ass is still a point in its favor.

    Now I have one question: Adventuring, levelling up, animite... how the hell did any of this work in the original Trading Card Game?

  2. #2
    Insert Coin (Level 0) Bazoo's Avatar
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    Yes! As a child I loved this game and recently acquired it again. It is top of the Pokemon clones IMO. I never played the physical card game but the rules appear to be here:

    http://www.bluefurok.com/NDrulebook.html

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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    Game always looked like it could be fun to me but those card battling games go over my head every time I look at them as they just seem overly complex and convoluted. If not that, it seems anytime I see it played it almost feels like someone is cheating, at least a digital someone as they can just somehow always have whatever card needed to just turn whatever is in play against you as their own like some cheap bs robbery stunt. I've seen that spoofed in stuff like Adventure Time too so I know I can't be too far off with that and seeing how it will make Jake rage out. There has been a copy of this game a mile up the street from here at half price for probably 3-4mo so far for $3, still there, great shape and cart only. I just started skimming that rules list and 3 pages in it made no sense to me.

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    I found the game to be a massive disappointment myself. I've always heard a lot of gushing about this game, as if it's one of the best games in the GBC's library, so I went into it optimistic. Several hours later, I couldn't even force myself to keep playing any longer, and I typically beat just about everything I start with serious intention to play through, no matter how bad. I keep telling myself year after year to get back into the game and beat it, but I can never bring myself to do so.

    I remember discovering that the battle system and gameplay is literally broken, but it's been so long that I can't remember the specifics anymore. The graphics look hideous to me. It seems to be a mix of digitized scenes and poorly-drawn, blob-like handmade sprites. I couldn't possibly feel more different about the humor than Edmond. I find it extremely overbearing and forced and not the slightest bit funny. It's just another factor that makes the game annoying and off-putting to me, as I actively disliked all the characters and dialogue.

    Granted, it probably doesn't help that I don't particularly care for most monster-collecting RPGs in the vein of Pokemon in general, but Magi Nation is easily one of the most unpleasant I've played. It's really a shame that I don't seem to "get" the appeal that so many others see in it.

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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    ahh you're not alone. Only partly did Pokemon suck me in and more so with the cartoon and stuff than the primary games, but any of those card battlers whatever is on there, or the spinoffs with tops, pogs or other crap I don't get it, I can't figure it out enough when I tried, and it just seems like a bunch of cheap plot twists and cheating to me how stuff goes all over the place so I just avoid it. This thread reminded me how much I wanted that game until I saw it was a card battler and yet again like back in the 90s I was once again done even caring once I found that reminder.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Edmond Dantes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanooki View Post
    I just started skimming that rules list and 3 pages in it made no sense to me.
    I'm almost positive this GBC game has nothing to do with the card game besides the title and the background mythology. It sure as hell plays more like a straightforward RPG (you summon, you pick an attack, you pick a target for said attack) than anything I would associate with a card game.

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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    I don't know I watched a couple of the gameplay videos on youtube and it was card flipping.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Edmond Dantes's Avatar
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    You must be watching a different game than what I'm playing then.

    The battle system has these spots that LOOK like the backs of cards, but that's really the only card-like thing about it...

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