TGS 2008: Little Magicians Hands-On

Animal Crossing meets Harry Potter. 'Nuff said.


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TOKYO--Take the whimsical art style and everyday activities of Animal Crossing and add a Potter-esque protagonist who attends magic school and helps out his friends, and you've got Little Magicians. At Konami's 2008 Tokyo Game Show booth, we got a tour around this magical neighborhood from a young Japanese woman wearing a wizard hat, and we're here to tell you all the information we managed to glean from our hands-on time with this colorful title. So read on for stylus-driven spells, wandering octopus aliens, and more cute than you can shake a wand at.

Little Magicians is more of a fun world to play around in than a game with a specific goal. You live in an apartment inside of a comically big, architecturally unfeasible building. You can buy furniture and decorations for your pad in the small town, but it was unclear to us how you obtain money or what the local currency is. In addition to a commercial district and a magic academy, you'll find a number of other residences (trees with doors in the front), as well as a scenic river running through town. The vibrant, colorful visuals fit the lighthearted tone, and there are enough people (and wacky creatures like wolf men, octopus aliens, and anthropomorphic cell phones) walking around that it feels like a bustling little hamlet.

You can converse with anyone you encounter and they are, more often than not, very happy to converse with you. We couldn't tell you much of what they were saying (as they were all speaking Japanese), but the dialogue menu trees that popped up indicated a fair number of conversation topics. Many inhabitants, we're told, have one kind of issue or another that needs attention, so you can likely spend much of your time being a Good (or bad?) Samaritan.

The primary way you'll be helping these folks is with magic. You can enter the magic school and attend classes where wizened old professors will teach you different spells. Once schooled, you head out into the world to ply your trade. Tracing a few circles around your character will make them don a wizard hat with a magical flourish, and from there you're free to cast spells. Each spell is cast by choosing the correct series of icons from a fairly substantial list. For example, we learned spell that required a swirl of wind, a flower, and a trumpet. The result? Fireworks!

In addition to your magic wand, you can use a shovel, a watering can, a butterfly net, a fishing rod, and various musical instruments. These all hint at the breadth of simple activities you can engage in throughout the town, many of which will probably involve needy citizens in some way. There are purportedly 100 characters that appear in the game, though you'll likely have to manage the day/night cycles and seasonal progression if you want to meet them all.

Little Magicians is a bright, colorful game filled with cute, big-headed characters and the kind of everyday appeal that made Animal Crossing such a hit. The potential for fun (and mischief) is multiplied by the many spells you can cast, including one that apparently makes the target unleash a thick cloud of flatulence. The game will also feature Wi-Fi functionality that will allow you to send townspeople to your friend's town and connect with other players for minigame madness. If you think wacky characters, broom riding, and fart spells could make for a fun game, then stay tuned to GameSpot and we'll keep you posted on the latest Little Magicians news, including word on the North American release date in the coming weeks.

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