One of the first games produced for SNK’s arcade system, Magician Lord is a lot like Capcom’s Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts. You play the titular wizard as he battles to defend his homeland from the evil advances of the absurdly named Gul-Agieze.
Considering the age of the game the visuals and sound are both excellent. The sprites themselves look a little dumpy and animate awkwardly but they still manage to look impressive, and the generous use of sprite scaling also helps the visual side of things. The music is nothing short of stunning, with the first level theme being especially worthy of praise.
The biggest hook of the game is undoubtedly the transformations. At set points in the game your character can turn into one of six different beings – Dragon, Waterman, Poseidon, Shinobi, Samurai and Raizin. Each form has different powers and attributes that help progress through particular parts of the game. Sadly these transformations are time-limited, but your standard ‘wizard’ form is usually more than adequate to tackle the challenge ahead. Like Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, Magician Lord has a fairly harsh difficulty level. If you like your games to be challenging then this should be right up your street. Thankfully, it manages to avoid being totally frustrating.
While it doesn’t quite reach the same level of brilliance as Capcom’s aforementioned fantasy epic, Magician Lord is still a classic game and the fact that people still regard it as a decent platform romp speaks volumes for the quality of this appealing title.