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TurboGrafx Network • View topic - Magicoal

Magicoal

PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 discussion

Magicoal

Postby Black Tiger » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:05 am

Magicoal is one of the first new PC Engine games I came across once I got online. It was always available in several places, brand new/sealed for $15 or less. The cover art made me hope that it was some sort of fantasy adventure game like Ys. For a while I continued passing it over, because it was always available and back in those days, way too many PC Engine games only appeared once in a blue moon (I was very happy to pay $93 for my first ratty complete copy of TMII). Any time I asked others about it or it came up in random discussions, all I ever head was negative comments.

I was very happy to read IvaNEC's review of Magicoal the other day on The Brothers Duomazov. It turns out it is more of the type of game I had hoped it would be and I am now dying to play it. It seems like the closest thing to The Secret of Mana on PC Engine. I certainly won't be missing a third playable character as I never made use of one when playing SoM with friends back in the day.

I can't wait to see what the various magical attacks look like in action. The style of spell book alone, with the tiny illustrations, is enough to draw me in. I love the HP bars and icons for the characters at the bottom of the screen. Even by PCE standards, the game is extremely colorful, shaded and vibrant. Every little detail appears to have been touched up and their are some nice looking color contrasts between floors and walls, unlike too many drab 16-bit RPG/adventure games.

I will definitely post my hands-on thoughts of the game once I have a chance to play it. :)
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Re: Magicoal

Postby runinruder » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:47 am

Cool, I hope you enjoy it. It does have nice colors, and nice tunes too. The spells are more neat than flashy, but it's super fun to learn new ones and find out what they do. The spell book is one of the coolest things about the game--I love the little drawings! It can be a nuisance to play at times--you have to switch between characters a lot if you want to find every spell you possibly can, and some of the enemies are really annoying. Overall, though, it's a fun, worthwhile game.
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Re: Magicoal

Postby guts » Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:39 pm

I remember this game being aite; nothing special, but not bad. More like Pocky & Rocky than Secret of Mana though. I thought it was gonna be an action RPG with a mighty anointing released upon it by the ARPG gods, but it was basically just a glorified Commando. Been years though, my memory could be faulty; for $15 though you can't go wrong.
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Re: Magicoal

Postby esteban » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:39 am

guts wrote:I remember this game being aite; nothing special, but not bad. More like Pocky & Rocky than Secret of Mana though. I thought it was gonna be an action RPG with a mighty anointing released upon it by the ARPG gods, but it was basically just a glorified Commando. Been years though, my memory could be faulty; for $15 though you can't go wrong.


"Glorified Commando"

Ha! What a delightful way to describe Magicoal. I'll give it more credit than that (it's not nearly as repetitive as Commando ;) ), but I wasn't particularly smitten with it. I suppose it depends on whether we compare it to the ARPG heavyweights in the PCE stable. This is an unfair comparison, perhaps, because Magicoal is a decent game in its own right, it just pales relative to AAA titles (like Australius, for example).
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Re: Magicoal

Postby Black Tiger » Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:50 am

runinruder wrote:Cool, I hope you enjoy it. It does have nice colors, and nice tunes too. The spells are more neat than flashy, but it's super fun to learn new ones and find out what they do. The spell book is one of the coolest things about the game--I love the little drawings! It can be a nuisance to play at times--you have to switch between characters a lot if you want to find every spell you possibly can, and some of the enemies are really annoying. Overall, though, it's a fun, worthwhile game.


I checked out the lone video of Magicoal on youtube again and I also really like the main menu screen. It reminds me of the menus of the Legend of Xanadu games.


guts wrote:I remember this game being aite; nothing special, but not bad. More like Pocky & Rocky than Secret of Mana though. I thought it was gonna be an action RPG with a mighty anointing released upon it by the ARPG gods, but it was basically just a glorified Commando. Been years though, my memory could be faulty; for $15 though you can't go wrong.


That sounds more like what I originally had in mind that it was like. My expectations are still reasonable and it's still cheap so I'm sure I'll be happy with it.


"Glorified Commando"

Ha! What a delightful way to describe Magicoal. I'll give it more credit than that (it's not nearly as repetitive as Commando ;) ), but I wasn't particularly smitten with it. I suppose it depends on whether we compare it to the ARPG heavyweights in the PCE stable. This is an unfair comparison, perhaps, because Magicoal is a decent game in its own right, it just pales relative to AAA titles (like Australius, for example).


I love (A)RPGs, whether light or heavyweights. It'll have to be pretty bad for me to be disappointed. I already know enough superficial things about it that appreciate. Even if it is a glorified Commando, that'd still be pretty cool. :)
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Re: Magicoal

Postby runinruder » Mon Nov 21, 2011 8:27 am

I agree with GUTS that Magicoal falls short of being great, but I'm not really on board with the Commando comparison. I think Fray~Xak Gaiden is the one that most people expect to be a great action-RPG only for it to end up being a Commando kind of thing. Magicoal is more of a Zelda sort of game in which you use a lot of magic and are confined to one area at a time.
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Re: Magicoal

Postby guts » Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:09 pm

runinruder wrote:I agree with GUTS that Magicoal falls short of being great, but I'm not really on board with the Commando comparison. I think Fray~Xak Gaiden is the one that most people expect to be a great action-RPG only for it to end up being a Commando kind of thing. Magicoal is more of a Zelda sort of game in which you use a lot of magic and are confined to one area at a time.


Yeah I tend to get my memories of those games mixed up. By the "glorified commando" remark I basically meant that I remembered it basically just boiling down to running around shooting shit with any other elements being totally superfluous. My expectations of ARPG elements probably tainted my experience when they were severely lacking, leaving me with the impression that it was basically just an action game.
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Re: Magicoal

Postby Black Tiger » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:02 pm

While waiting for my copy of Magicoal to arrive, I fired up an iso of it in Magic Engine and gave it a test drive.

Most of the in-game graphics are even better than I expected, with lots of nice shading and detail polishing and great use of color for the most part. Then there the bits that stand out which look either rushed or not thought out. Some of the NPC's look fugly and the cinemas range from crude to very nice. One little thing that bothers me each time I see it, is the lit spots at night, which use day time coloring. Fire does not illuminate everything exactly the same as daylight and these sort of windows in a blue transparency are hard to look at.

That kind of stuff is still only annoying, unfortunately the gameplay is frustrating early on. I wish that Magicoal played more like a Commando style game, like Dungeon Explorer, where pressing the button releases a projectile. Maybe there are future spells that are instantaneous, but the hold the button for a second attacks don't combine well with the crude enemy and alternate character AI. It seems like all the enemies I faced so far (I cleared the burning village) can only be damaged by hitting the lower half of their body. By the time I line one up perfectly and charge a shot, they've usually pulled off their own projectile attack which I have positioned myself to receive, or if I'm lucky, simply cancel out. Some of the other offensive spells would work just fine if I could lure enemies consistently, but too often they become attracted to the alternate AI player who is running around like an idiot and still gets to take damage. This all becomes worse, when dealing with dungeons full of doorways, hallways and rooms, with enemies always seeing you and your AI partner always going after them through walls. Too many times I couldn't progress because the AI player wanted to kill an enemy behind a wall and you can't scroll without them. Trying to take out an enemy camping around a doorway is also hard to do without taking unnecessary damage. At least you slowly heal, Ys style.

The game is also more straightforward than I'd like, but the freedom you often have within zones is nice and does give it more of an adventure feel. I'm still optimistic, but it looks like this is another PC Engine game that was on it's way towards greatness before getting sewn up and kicked out the door before it was ready.
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Re: Magicoal

Postby runinruder » Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:44 pm

This all becomes worse, when dealing with dungeons full of doorways, hallways and rooms, with enemies always seeing you and your AI partner always going after them through walls. Too many times I couldn't progress because the AI player wanted to kill an enemy behind a wall and you can't scroll without them.


As I recall, you can force the AI player to follow you by holding down buttons I and II. This feels like dragging along dead weight and can be pretty annoying, but not as annoying as having to sit there while the idiot shoots fireballs into a wall.
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Re: Magicoal

Postby Black Tiger » Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:50 pm

runinruder wrote:
This all becomes worse, when dealing with dungeons full of doorways, hallways and rooms, with enemies always seeing you and your AI partner always going after them through walls. Too many times I couldn't progress because the AI player wanted to kill an enemy behind a wall and you can't scroll without them.


As I recall, you can force the AI player to follow you by holding down buttons I and II. This feels like dragging along dead weight and can be pretty annoying, but not as annoying as having to sit there while the idiot shoots fireballs into a wall.


Awesome, this is the kind of stuff I was hoping to glean from the manual. :)

While playing, I thought to myself that they should have added some 2-button commands. In particular, I wanted a way to switch between characters without bringing up the menu screen. I was thinking of I or II + Select. Maybe there actually is an in-game character switch method. :)
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