Imagine if Voldemort finally got his snaky hands on Harry Potter – only instead of exacting his bloody revenge, he gave the boy wizard a lobotomy and sent him back to Hogwarts. Rather than solve mysteries and fight mythical monsters, the bespectacled teen would have to while away the school hours trading rumours with his similarly braindead classmates, wandering off occasionally to catch a fish or buy a wardrobe from a duck.
This owes a considerable debt to Harry Potter, but also to Animal Crossing – and we’re sure Tom ‘The Killer’ Nook will appear at Konami HQ soon enough, demanding some kind of payment. At heart, it’s the same brand of socialising, recreation and simulation, only with a load of magic paraphernalia sprinkled on top.
The biggest addition to the formula is your ability to cast spells. To do this, you need to spin on the spot – which ‘turns you into a wizard’ by putting a pointy hat on your avatar – before picking a combination of symbols from the Magic Linguistics menu. Say you want to cast Love Insight, which reveals whom people are in love with. Pluck ‘magic’, ‘explore’ and ‘sweetheart’ from the exhaustive linguistic database and your wand will be charged with the spell.
We’re sure the icon-based spellcasting allows for a lot of secret incantations, but it’s annoying having to manually enter each recipe every time you want to do a spell. Magic is fun to mess about with, if fairly cosmetic – but then that’s an observation you could level at the whole game. Daily activities revolve around schoolwork, aimless and bizarre conversations with your rather thick in-game friends, or doing odd jobs for the town’s shopkeepers, but these often feel more like chores than entertaining diversions, and we have enough of those to deal with in real life.
Enchanted Folk’s world is also slightly characterless and, apart from the cumbersome spellcasting, there’s nothing here to really distinguish this from Nintendo’s (far better) series. Unless you’ve finally exhausted Animal Crossing: Wild World, there’s not much point picking this up.
May 11, 2009