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Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Inspired by 1980s nostalgia, Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age offers a cheeky story, great sense of style and unique enemy designs. Unfortunately, juggling all of the different moves and summons is made frustratingly difficult due to swarms of aggressive bad guys and no way to stop the action mid-stream. Megamagic is a big disappointment. Rating: 57%
Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age
Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age
  • Review Score:

  • C+
It's rare to be able to pinpoint the exact moment you lost interest in a game. Normally, it's a few small issues that start to add up and take their toll, but that's not the case with Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age. With a compelling story and great sense of humor, I spent most of the time really impressed with Beautifun Games' newest release. But halfway through this epic adventure, there is a moment so egregiously broken that it colored my opinion of the rest of the game. It was at that moment Megamagic completely lost me.

But there's no time to get into that yet, because there's a lot to dig up in the Neon Age wasteland. Set in a retro-future world inspired by 1980s nostalgia, Megamagic tells the story of two brothers -- Phoban and Deimon. Years ago, on a particularly stormy night, their father snuck them into Grove Valley to live with their uncle. He knew this would be a safe place to keep his boys away from the horrors of the world, as well as to hide a magical staff and book from the evil forces after him.

As it turns out, there's a lot more to those mysterious treasures than anybody expected. Phoban is blown away when he is able to summon Fum, a little smoky creature that allows the teenager to pull off magical spells. The two become best friends, working day and night to hone their skills in hopes of going to the nearby temple and becoming a wizard. But when a monk named Merklyn gets a look at Fum, suddenly everything changes. When Phoban won't hand his smoky friend over to the religious order, this sends the duo fleeing for their lives. And if being on the lam wasn't bad enough, the once-peaceful Grove Valley has been turned upside down by a zombie attack.

This sets up what turns out to be a convoluted action/adventure game full of twists and surprises. Phoban's journey will take him into a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland, where he'll get mixed up with a bunch of punks. He'll fight through the nearby temple to learn more about a demonic force known as Erasers. He'll explore the countryside in hopes of finding new skills and summons. And, if he's lucky, Phoban will figure out once and for all why his father would risk his life to possess this magical staff.

Speaking of which, Phoban's powers extend far beyond shooting tiny energy balls. The teenager is capable of summoning helper characters, such as robots, zombies and mechanical dogs. We're able to order them around the screen, not unlike a very simple real-time strategy game. This gives the enemies something else to attack and allows our hero to regain an upper hand on the chaotic action.

Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Phoban doesn't have any punches or kicks; he fights with his magical staff. Although it starts with only a couple of attacks, he'll quickly find and unlock new spells to use against the hordes of undead creatures. There are sixteen spells in all, ranging from a ball that ping-pongs between enemies, a gust of wind that pushes enemies away, a black hole that sucks everything to one location and, my favorite, the Mega Ball, which reminds me of Smash TV's grenade lobber. Players can switch between up to eight attacks and summons at any given time.

This is both the best and worst part of Megamagic. Right off the bat, the action is fast and exciting. In theory, Phoban can cycle through his attacks to create powerful combos. These firefights are exciting at first, but quickly become overwhelming to the point of frustration. The problem is that you can't stop time to catch your breath and switch between spells. You have to cycle through attacks, manage your summons and dodge enemy shots all in real-time, which can be a bit much at times. I'm glad the developers didn't opt for the turn-based approach, but this game is in serious need of a Fallout-style pause in the action.

It certainly doesn't help that the roaming bad guys are needlessly aggressive. As soon as an enemy sees you, they'll begin their chase, usually with many more joining in on the hunt. With the action moving so quickly, it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything. And the moment Phoban finds himself outnumbered; he'll die a horrible death and lose a bunch of progress. Too many battles devolved in little more than me running in circles trying to take an enemy out one at a time.

Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Normally the levels are large enough to allow our teenage hero to stay a certain distance from the bad guys, but this is not always the case. There are times when the game will inexplicably lock the camera, forcing us to fight in cramped areas filled with overpowered enemies. There's one 10 minute stretch in particular that I spent three straight hours trying to beat, only to keep failing due to cheap and unavoidable deaths. There were way too many enemies to contend with in such a tiny space, something that frustratingly highlighted all of the problems with Megamagic's combat. It was at that moment this game completely lost me.

Even after I finally managed to get through the section by the skin of my teeth, it was clear that the momentum had shifted. You can't unring a bell, and I had a hard time looking at the game the same way after seeing the combat mechanics break down so spectacularly. Even as the big twists and turns washed over my eyes, I found myself weirdly apathetic. All of the pieces were still there, but it just wasn't the same.

This is a crushing disappointment, as I like nearly everything else about Megamagic's design. I'm a big fan of the cheeky story and how it pulls from 1980s nostalgia without being too referential. I like the simple, yet colorful art style and the unique enemy designs. It's nice that this is an action/adventure game not stuck in a strictly fantasy setting; the retro-future design allows it to stand out. Unfortunately, all of the game's best attributes are overshadowed by the unbalanced gameplay.

With a few tweaks to the combat and the elimination of one especially egregious mission, Megamagic: Wizards of the Neon Age would be an incredibly easy game to recommend. As it is, I can't help but yearn for what could have been.
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