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Magic Pengel Review
game: Magic Pengel
three star
posted by: Monica Hafer
publisher: AgeTec/Taito
date posted: 09:10 AM Wed Oct 1st, 2003
last revision: 03:12 PM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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When I first laid eyes on Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color, I immediately assumed that I was looking at a Pokemon clone. While I was correct in some aspects, Magic Pengel (pronounced pen-gel, like gel pen only reversed) has some interesting and unique aspects. In this game, you are a \"doodler,\" meaning you have the ability to draw beings (doodles) using a magic sprite that looks like a puffy stylus. These doodles come alive and you use them to fight against other doodles to try and restore color to the world (which had been taken long ago because of an evil human king).

Probably the strongest aspect of this game is the idea of designing your own character and the fact that the animation is smooth and effective in translating a 2D image into 3D. This is one of the coolest concepts to come along in a while. It was the strangest thing to see a misshapen blob I had just drawn come to life and bounce around on the screen. When you first start out, you have a limited palette and design choices. As you compete you earn more options and colors to work with. Of course, you are still somewhat limited by your ability to draw using your controller. The only drawback to the element of doodle creation is that there is really no full-blown tutorial for the sketchbook, which would have been extremely helpful.

Ironically enough, the longest tutorial was on how to fight, which was a terribly long and tedious explanation of what was a fairly simple concept. The manual itself compared the rules to \"rock, paper, scissors\" and it really is that easy. There are four modes (attack, block, magic, and charge) and you cannot use the same attack consecutively. It amazed me that the designers thought they needed to spend this much time on a simple concept when the Pokemon generation memorizes rules for engagement that would make a physicist\'s head spin.

The fights that move you through the plot of the game occur in the Main Arena, though you can fight bystanders or marketplace vendors in the Seaside Arena for money or to upgrade you sketchbook options. In the marketplace you meet many different NPC characters, especially two children named Zoe and Taro (who you will help to find Taro\'s foster father as a secondary goal to restoring color). You can buy items and gain information as you move through the market, which adds an RPG feel to an arena fighting game.

The voice acting, while definitely staying in the style of cartoon fodder, is well done, and I felt that it was, well?cute. The music followed along in the same vein with what I can only call lilting adventure and tense fight tunes. While this may be annoying to some, I see this backdrop as extremely fitting for this type of game.

While the graphics of the rest of the game (can\'t blame the programmers for your artist skill or lack thereof) are pretty simple, they are solid and extremely colorful. For a game that is all about the quest for color, you sure don\'t have to look very far to see a vivid palette. This increases the cartoon feel of the world and makes a great backdrop for the anime style characters. The game isn\'t terribly big or complicated, and so it doesn\'t really stretch anyone\'s capabilities in this area, but it seems to be appropriate for the style and (what I perceive to be) the target demographic of this game.

This leads me to my final point. This game appeals to adults in that the animation of characters is really amazing to watch, but it doesn\'t have enough complexity of gameplay or depth to be a long-term choice. Perhaps some longevity is added by the fact that you can create interesting doodles to play with your friends (you can save yours on a memory card and take it with you) and I\'m sure the amusement factor would take you a little farther. The same sort of ideas apply to kids on this game, yet I think that they have a lot more patience for limited variety in their gameplay (I mean, come on, how much variety is there in Pokemon battles, for crying out loud). However, I think that the limit of four fighting moves will finally wear out the excitement at seeing their creations come alive. Definitely check this title out, test your creations against your rivals, just don\'t retire any of your old titles in the meantime.