The Magician

      Welcome to the world of the Magician, where Monochromius the Interminable forces each town to paint all their houses and stables brown. Lethal Indians lie outside of town, launching tomahawks from their sunken pecs. Even the peasants can be dangerous if provoked. You, uh... Spazzicus T. Orangeskin, an apprentice magician are all that stands between idyllic meandering existence and malevolent wandering.

      That's about as much fanfare as I'll award this game, which is more than it deserves. If not for the ability to go around slaughtering people in villages at random (more on that later) this game wouldn't probably have anything going for it at all. Other positive things I can say about the Magician: it has better play control than D&D: Heroes of the Lance; the cartridge doesn't issue forth plague-ridden fleas when you press the power button; most modern TV's have a mute button. It's also technically a better game than Karateka since the Magician can walk left as well as right. That said, onto the good stuff.

     As I said before, like virtually all NES fantasy games, there's a lot of brown in the world. I suppose I should applaud the proud few designers who tried to add some texture to a visually limited world, but face facts- those backgrounds are ugly at best and distractingly indistinct at worst. Nothing really approaches FOTON's Cave of Annoyance in terms of awfulness, then again what could? Though, the Magician's theme music sure tries its damnedest to piss me off. If only Taxan had tried to make a Pumaman game.

     The Magician collects lots and lots of little magical knickknacks to both keep him alive and add onto his awesome power (vacuum.) Among these, of course- food and water. Yay for games that make your guy starve to death in the middle of a heated battle!! Basically, you fit little glyph things into slots in your inventory to prepare spells. Of course, that's only really relevant if you care about getting anywhere in this game, unlike yours truly.

     As soon as possible, I equipped the Magician with fireballs and started cutting loose in the middle of town. Imagine my impish delight after hitting a peasant with about a dozen of them and actually seeing him fall down dead. I wish I could do this kind of crap in Final Fantasy when a stupid low-level guard keeps me from waltzing into an area when I have a giant broadsword and a girl with me that can pull monsters and robots out of nowhere. So, I started blasting people left and right, when suddenly the little written transcript of the game that scrolls through the bottom of the game informed me that I was now a 'vile murderer' or something. This change in reputation was reflected by the stupid barbarian ambling about town fling tomahawks from his chest and groin. And even the peasants suddenly became dangerous to touch as they whined out crap like "STAY AWAY FROM ME!" while rushing at you anyway.

     So, the Magician escaped town, barely, after a run-in with the Pope. He crossed a wasteland with a destroyed house/temple and a lot of pissed off barbarians and wizards. Finally, the little dork collapsed after a few dozen lightning bolts and axes to the head.

     For all the stuff the Magician is capable of, he's severely limited in motion. His main special power is to actually raise his hand when he shoots things sometimes, whereas the warriors and such just seem to have weapons coming out of every cranny. All of the 'shield' effect spells have regular attack sprites shooting out of the ground where you walk. Remember, for crude recycling of sprites and animations, and generic fantasy, look no further than The Magician! The game that says what it is!

Taxan. A name you can trust, just like Charles Manson, Snidely Whiplash or "W."

Note the way our hero defiantly stands up to the evil sorcerer (as rendered by Eduard Munch). You know, on the title screen of every other damned fantasy game.

I used to think that princess from the Might & Magic magazine ads was like, the hottest thing ever. That doesn't really have anything to do with the Magician.