Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times

Kombo’s Review Policy: Our reviews are written for you. Our goal is to write honest, to-the-point reviews that don’t waste your time. This is why we’ve split our reviews into four sections: What the Game’s About, What’s Hot, What’s Not and Final Word, so that you can easily find the information you want from our reviews.

What the Game’s About
There is little doubt that Nintendo’s Animal Crossing is an odd success. Much like an episode of Seinfeld, it is a game about nothing. You live your life and go about your mundane business of pulling weeds and talking with neighbors you don’t always like. The most bizarre part is that the formula is both addicting and enchanting. That formula has been often duplicated but never been the same. Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times is Konami’s take on the Animal Crossing style game and brings in some new elements to differentiate itself from being an exact clone. Playing through the game, it sure gives the reigning champ in this genre a run for its money.

What’s Hot
The globe based world is reminiscent of Animal Crossing. It scrolls by with all sorts of magical creatures odd and not. Part of the appeal of these types of game is the quaint charm of living and contributing to a small town. Mysterious Times nails that feeling and adds a dash of Harry Potter like magic to give off its own unique flavor. You’ll meet talking pumpkins and skeletons and interact with them as if their last name was Smith. With all the sugary cute critters, it is hard not to fall for the charm.

Every aspect of the game is touched by or uses a touch of magic. All your tools come from your all purpose wand that can transform into just about anything you could find useful. Spinning around will turn you into a wizard and you’ll have access to spells that you can cast on a number of things. If you are patient enough to sit through classes that teach you new spells, you can eventually cast some powerful and useful things that help build your relationships or solve the game’s many mysteries.

Mysterious Times adds some gameplay with mysteries you can investigate. You draw on the spells and skills you learn through your time exploring the world to complete an entire laundry list of quests the game determines. If you are a gamer that wants something more involved than just living a virtual life, this is a great addition to the gameplay that gets you more involved with the mechanics and surroundings than the “create your own story” this type of genre generally features.

What’s Not
Prepare to set aside a large chunk of time to get caught up to speed on the very basics of Mysterious Times. The game starts you off at a snail’s pace with you mostly sitting in a classroom being taught the very basic commands. Time passes according to your internal DS clock so when you want to attend some specific classes you’ll need to be mindful of the time. This all accumulates into large time sinks that are incremental improvements. There is a point where you’ll be off and running but the small goals in the beginning lag down the enjoyable mid to end level content.

You’ll never feel prepared for some of the challenges of making a living in a magical town even though you have to watch a bunch of tutorials. It will be common to flounder along as you try new things to find out what starts chains of events that lead into the grander scheme of the game. It would have been extremely useful to be given more direction for a couple of important moments and then let players use those learning and apply it to other areas of the game. As it stands, gameplay is trial and error until you find something that clicks and you stick with it.

Final Word
Mysterious Times is a competent Animal Crossing clone. The similarities are unmistakable and you can’t talk about one without mentioning the other. It barrows so heavily from Nintendo’s game that Mysterious Times seems proud of it. When Mysterious Times branches out into new territory, it does wonderful things or makes you confused at why they didn’t take yet another idea from Animal Crossing. Much like other games in this similar category, it starts off slowly and you slowly grow into the experience. If you are sick and tired of woodland creatures, you should give Mysterious Times a try and be pleasantly surprised at how well the game was done.