Magical Starsign (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 29.06.2006 6

Unfortunately for Western gamers, Nintendo's original plans to bring Brownie Brown's Magical Vacation on GBA to the US and Europe changed and they all missed out on one of the best GBA RPGs on the market. Thankfully, though, its Nintendo DS successor, Magical Starsign, has been confirmed for outside Japan. But does it look to be AS good? We shall see...

People in the West will know of Brownie Brown only for the seemingly rushed GBA port of Seiken Densetsu / Final Fantasy Adventure from the Game Boy, renamed as 'Sword of Mana'. However, gamers disappointed by that effort on behalf of Square Enix should realise something about Brownie Brown. The team is actually made up of ex-Squaresoft employees that previously worked on the Mana series for both the SNES and the PlayStation, so they definitely have a lot of talent amongst them. Looking at their d

Screenshot for Magical Starsign on Nintendo DS

In Japan this game was released on 22nd June under the name Magical Vacation: 5-tsu no Hoshi Ganarabutoki (roughly translated as 'When the Five Stars Line Up') and has just been confirmed for a 23rd October release in the US, with a European release mentioned in Nintendo Official Magazine as being set for January, 2007. Unfortunately, given the complexity of the text in the GBA adventure, it would be unwise to import this from Japan unless you want to a) get really stuck on several occasions, b) completely miss out on the meat of the story. At least October is not too far away. But anyway, what can we expect from the title, I hear you cry?

First of all you will be getting one of the most attractive 2D-style RPGs on the Nintendo DS. In fact, if you have been enamoured by the forthcoming Children of Mana, you will find many parallels between the two on the visual side. The folk at Brownie Brown seem to be sticking with their usual style, whilst Square Enix is also keeping to the original Mana appearance, so the two look quite alike. Hopefully this will not deter people from buying this game, since Square Enix's Children of Mana belatedly hits the streets only one week later on 30th October (it hit Japan in March). Just looking at the array of screenshots revealed so far, the hand-drawn appearance of the graphics looks as clean and crisp as those in the gorgeous Children of Mana and the powerful battle / magical attack animations in promotional videos also highlights just how impressive Magical Starsign really is. With massive two-screen bosses and even cut-scenes featuring 3D models, Magical Starsign appears to be a real graphical treat!

Screenshot for Magical Starsign on Nintendo DS

The first piece of feedback that stemmed from Japan recently was about the game's control system. Apparently you can use one of two set ups, with the first one having players use the directional pad and face buttons to control character movement, with the R button acting as a dash function and the L shoulder button being the 'action' button (opening chests, talking to people, and so on). However, using this technique will prove to be quite awkward as you MUST use the stylus for menu control. Therefore, the second control option seems a far better solution

Screenshot for Magical Starsign on Nintendo DS

With not just Brownie Brown but the lead man behind the first Magical Vacation on-board this project (Shinichi Kameoka), the sequel is shaping up to be quite strong, as is mirrored by Famitsu's latest review of the title, scoring it a very healthy 31/40 (the original received 34/40). The storyline is slightly different this time round, with none of the characters from the first game included. However, it is the same school involved (Will O'Wisp Magical Academy) and a new group of trainee magicians are integral to the adventure, each one able to channel the power of certain stars. When they find out about their teacher and fellow students disappearing under mysterious circumstances, they take it upon themselves to head off on a rescue mission, using their rookie skills to the best of their ability as they travel across many different planets, each one affecting various character's strengths.

Screenshot for Magical Starsign on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

Magical Starsign is shaping up to be a strong entry into the Nintendo DS RPG scene and may even please Mana fans more than Children of Mana. Currently its first week in Japan has been a slow one, but hopefully its quality will shine through and help it succeed more in the West. October cannot come soon enough!

Developer

Brownie Brown

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

6

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (8 Votes)

European release date Jan 2007   North America release date 23.10.2006   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date 2007   

Comments

It's off to a slow start in Japan, but hopefully it'll get more recognition and also do well here in the West.

It's a shame Brownie Brown's other game, Mother 3, isn't being released in the West!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

4.5 this must be some good RPG action DS style


Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he [Richard Ashcroft] promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."

I love the original GBA game and this looks to be a superior title, so I'm VERY much looking forward to it. Plus I've played Mother 3 from Brownie Brown, so know the company's on somewhat of a positive roll... :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Nice preview Adam, this looks like one to watch out for! :-D

There's a lot of talk about it bombing over in Japan at the moment, but I'm really hoping that just like Children of Mana stuck around, this will as well. If it doesn't reach 250,000 units in the long term, THEN it might be a real disappointment in Japan.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I'm really looking forward to this title. Me being a japanese-RPG-fan, I'm new to the Magical-Starsign-Universe and I think, I missed some great games over there. I didn't quite like Secret of Mana for GBA, because I mostley didn't know what to do next and got stuck here and there. But it had it's strong sides, namely the 'cutscenes' and talkings with quest-people, the battle-system (something of a button-smasher, but funny) and the cute enemies. the story is still unfolding, but I missed it almost completely. Golden Sun is far better than Secret of Mana.
What about 'Children of Mana'? Is it bettern than Secret?

I find your lack of faith disturbing!

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