And, for the most part, Magi-Nation
is a very impressive game. The plot is intriguing, there's lots of humourous text, plenty of beasties to give you a challenge, and lots to do. If it weren't for the too-slow battle system, Magi-Nation
would be absolutely amazing. As it is, it's just very good.
Magi-Nation tells the story of one Tony Jones, a young boy who goes into a cave on a dare and falls through the collapsing floor, ending up in a completely different world. His main quest is to go home, but of course prophecy will have none of that--he's this world's saviour. While the game starts off rather predictably, it pretty quickly veers into a more interesting direction. It's not epic, but the story in Magi-Nation was good enough to keep me going.
The core of any monster-collecting RPG is the battle system, and unfortunately this is where Magi-Nation falters the worse. The actual system is excellent. Tony has a certain amount of 'energy'. He cannot attack himself, but he can invest that energy into summoning Dream Creatures that he has the ring for. The cost for summoning a Creature depends on its type and level, so the better they get the more energy it costs. Special moves all cost energy, and damage is dealt in points of energy. If Tony wins, the energy goes back to him; if the beasts are defeated, the enemies can then wail on Tony and kill him. I like the almost-zero-sum feel of it--everything is done in Energy, and you have to balance it, because it's both points for skills and your health.
The problem is this: the battles are way too slow. The GBC just doesn't seem to have the power needed to drive it properly, and battles, even short ones, end up being more frustrating than they should be. The menus are slow, the action is slow, it's all just slow. It's a shame, too--a sped-up version of the battle system would be fantastic.
The rest of the game is good. When you defeat enemies, you get Animite, which is used as currency in the world. You may also get Infused Animite, which has the energy of the beasts you killed. You can use this Infused Animite to have rings created for you with new Dream Creatures. This is how you gain new Creatures to battle for you, and the system works well.
There's also a good deal of humour in the game, some of it outright silly (the guy in the training area, for example) and some of it a lot more tongue-in-cheek (the mocking of the various responses you get when you 'click' on everything). Considering the usually dry translations of Japanese games, this sort of home-grown humour is definitely A Good Thing.