Magic Sword
Release year - USA:1992
Company: Capcom
System: SNES
Genre: Platformer
Players: 1

Review by: PrimeOp

While Capcom's barbarian-base platformer 'Black Tiger' was never released for any consoles, it's spiritual successor 'Magic Sword' was lucky enough to get an SNES release. Look, it's Capcom porting a arcade title to the SNES. You know I'm going to say that it's good. Just humor me by reading the review anyway.

The malevolent being known as Drokmar possesses the mighty Black Orb. Many adventurers ventured forth to retrieve the orb only to be caught and jailed. As the anonymous Magic Swordsman, it's your job to break that losing streak by stabbing evil over and over again as you battle your way to the top floor where the dreaded one awaits you. Your instrument of stabbation here is a Magic Sword that not only slices and dices nasty monsters until they explode, but can hurl an enchanted flame if you possess enough magic to do so. Your magic gauge gradually builds up when you're not attacking but you can also find magic staffs that give you unlimited magic for a brief time. Your sword improves after every significant boss battle while you can get better shields along the journey. Like most good medieval games, you can find keys that are necessary to open the doors to the exits as well as freeing your captured comrades. Some of these doors (as well as treasures) are hidden and will give you a chance to skip some floors.
Please head to the nearest exit in an unorderly and completely hostile manner while making sure to kill every enemy in your path. Thank you for your co-operation.

If you want to find the Knight, be sure to read the text during those staircase scenes between floors. But let's stay classy by not making any lame 'adept with his spear' jokes.
Every game needs something unique to help it stand apart from the crowd and be more than just another example of it's genre. Magic Sword's twist is how you can bring any freed warrior along to battle by your side much like an 'option' in a shoot-em-up game. These helpers can be upgraded to more powerful forms with power-ups or freeing duplicates and choosing them. Each warrior has their own stats and/or special abilities that will come in handy. For example, the Big Man moves slowly but delivers a lot of damage and upgrades quickly since he's easily found on many of the floors. On the other hand, the Thief is weak in combat but can see the hidden treasures and traps. Special warriors like the Lizardman (a personal favorite of mine) and the Knight are rare, powerful allies that are perfect for boss battles. To win the game, learn the right character combinations and where they're held prisoner. Just be careful when opening those doors, because your enemy was smart enough to leave a few traps for you to deal with.

While they couldn't fit a second player into the game like the arcade version, Capcom did a fantastic job in porting Magic Sword to the SNES. For one thing, nearly everything in the game play (but player two) is here. A few things may be switched around here and there, but it seems like there weren't any drastic changes. One thing that should be noted is the size of the screen. The sprites appear to be roughly the same size as the arcade version while the horizontal width of the play area is changed from 384 pixels to 256. This makes the game look a bit better as the sprites seem to take up more screen space. The highly-unrelated soundtrack arcade background music is nicely replayed here with a few instrument changes for the sake of fitting the SNES. Some of the tracks have a bit of a horror flavor (as in Castlevania, not Count Chokula) with a quick tempo and powerful feeling that perfectly matches the action on the screen. Luckily, the Swordsman's constant yells of "O-YAHHH!" (or whatever) from the arcade only pops up once in a while here. Some gamers have accused Capcom of half-stepping anything that didn't feature 'Mega' or 'Street' in it's title during this era, but there's no doubt that they put some serious work into this conversion.
As all good medieval strongholds should, this tower is filled to the rafters with Harryhausenesque re-animated skeletons armed with swords.

Some may find Magic Sword a bit repetative with so many levels of doing nearly the same thing, but there's no denying that the game executes perfectly. Shrinking the horizontal space of the playfield adds a bit more tension to the game than the arcade version. This game shouldn't be that hard to find, so don't go paying any crazy eBay money for it.

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