Magician Lord was a launch title on the Neo Geo and one of the first titles that gave gamers a glimpse of what the system had to offer. You control a shape shifting wizard called Elta who can morph into one of six different forms, each with varying attacks to help him battle through eight stages of side scrolling platform action.
During the course of the game, you occasionally pick up different tokens that turn you into other form (eg. a Ninja), that all have differing skills... the main problem with this is that you often don't tend to see those forms for very long as you'll be too busy getting hit and eventually dying. That's right folks, this game is way too hard, and sometimes it feels like you just aren't able to avoid being hit; of course, it isn't impossible, but it seems like SNK made this game to do nothing more than keep players pumping in credit after credit. It's a true "quarter muncher" that's for sure!
I don't like to antagonise people, but I have to be honest and say that I really don't like this one, and I know a lot of people out there that absolutely love it so I'd like to be as respectful as possible. However, I first encountered a cab with it running at the local cinema, and was not impressed at all. I spent one credit on it, and then moved straight on to something else. Don't get me wrong, it's not horrible, and is probably better than certain other games on the Neo Geo that I could mention, but I've never found much to keep me interested, so I never really felt like spending the time practicing to be good enough to beat it without dying every few seconds on the later levels. If you don't like to spend hours memorising enemy patterns and boss-killing techniques, then this probably isn't the right game for you either.
Graphics & Sound:
Having never really played this game much on its release, it's hard to see what the fuss is about when it comes ot the games graphics. It does look pretty good for a game from 1990, and it's very colourful with some pretty detailed backgrounds, but I'm sure I can remember many other games from the same time period looking far superior. The animation seems a little bit stiff as well, so overall, while it's not a horrible looking game by any means, it's not outstanding either.
The sound effects are decent too, and the music is actually quite cool for an early game like this, certainly above par for an early Neo Geo title.
This is one hell of a tough game, and while I like a challenge (I love Pulstar for instance), this game just isn't enough fun to make me want to put the effort in. One thing that is worth noting is that there are differences between the various versions. Apparently not only does the Neo Geo CD version has a toned down difficulty level, there are differences between the cart versions too. The home version of this game is slightly easier than the MVS version, so that makes a bit of a difference (see below for more info). It's still hard as nails though!
As I said, I don't like to be too harsh and I know I am offending some people here, but I just didn't like this game all that much, even if I have grown a little more fond of it over the years, and I do appreciate that it was an important title in SNK's history. But anyway, I know how it feels when someone rips apart a game that you really love, especially when it is an older game and they don't show it the respect it probably deserves. Apologies go out to all Magician Lord Fans, but this one really isn't on my faves list... hate to say it, but Capcom's Ghouls & Ghosts would be a better choice when it comes to this genre!
Game play: 5/10
Replay Value: 5/10
Overall Rating: 5.5/10
Below is a quote from one of our sites members. Here's what chtulhu had to say about it after trying out the different romsets to confirm what varied between them:
"I've just checked the maglord and maglordh ROMs and there is quite a difference.
In the maglord ROM the player has 2 hitpoints and a maximum of 4 hitpoints after transformation, after losing 2 hitpoints, the player changes back to the original form. Also the respawning points are at the exact spot you've died, even after using another credit.
The maglordh ROM is different. First of all the game has quite a nice intro explaining the story. The player has 3 hitpoints and a maximum of 6 after transformation, after losing 3 hitpoints, the player changes back to the original form. The respawning points are at the beginning of the level or at the last door visited. When losing all lives and using a credit, the player has to start the level over from the start.
I can say that my AES (probably Euro) version of this game has the maglord set. Maybe later runs of the game included the maglordh set."
Hope that is of help to anyone wondering what version they have.
Full game walkthrough on one credit, thanks to mcdnol: (part 1)
NEOGEO is a registered trademark of SNK PLAYMORE CORPORATION.
All intellectual property rights related to NEOGEO products and others belong to SNK PLAYMORE CORPORATION.
Non SNK software titles belong to their respective authors.
This website is tested with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Best Viewed at 1024x768 or higher. Although it is tested with Firefox and IE, it should work with other browsers without problems - please contact me if you notice any issues!