Review: Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven – Just Shy of Made in Heaven
From the developers of various Harvest Moon and Senran Kagura titles comes JRPG Lord of Magna. With there being no shortage of excellent titles in that genre on the platform, will those lovely anime girls be enough to make a dent?
It seems that Lord of Magna makes a solid addition to the Nintendo 3DS’s grand library, although it probably won’t be selling too many systems on its own.
In a world long forsaken by the Gods that once governed it, you take control of Luchs Eduard, a humble inn keeper who has never had any business. One day while mining for the crystals he sells to keep the bills paid at said inn, a mysterious pink haired girl awakens from an especially large crystal to defend Luchs from a group of fiends.
This girl is the first of many fairies or goddesses that the game revolves around. When all the goddesses are gathered, they become the catalyst to an infinite power; a power that the main villain has some not so nice plans for.
By the end I didn’t think the game’s story was anything remarkable or very compelling. Learning about the history between the gods and mankind as well as the motivations of various characters was fairly interesting, but there was never anything gripping or especially moving about the narrative.
I would even say it was fairly boring at times, but it definitely works as a means of giving some sort of significance to the long strings of battles and holding everything together.
Visually the game is similar to some other JRPGs for the platform but still holds its own charms. The 3D models have a certain charm to them and the worlds and characters are all very colorful and nicely designed. Some of the special attacks have fancy animations, which lends a large scale feeling to the battles. The anime character portraits are sharp and appealing. Surprisingly, the designs of the fairies are unique and creative, and they are versatile to suit a wide range of tastes.
The game also uses full anime cutscenes, although it uses them especially sparingly. While they tend to appear sparingly in many other titles, Lord of Magna seems to have even less than is typical. It’s a shame too, because they look excellent.
The game’s soundtrack did not make a big impact on me, but I never heard anything I flat out didn’t like. In general it’s a bit soft for my taste and it lacked the flare to bring excitement to some key scenes. The voice acting is not featured often and while none of the voices made me cringe, the performances were rather forgettable.
The combat system is turn based and one of the most unique mechanics is the chain system. In this game several enemies can appear on the field at once — more than a dozen at times — and enemies come in three flavors. They’re either a complete throwaway runt, a middling sort of general or a boss. When you land an attack on a runt, they go flying and will bump against other runts and destroying them or against bosses and generals, slightly damaging them.
Defeating multiple enemies like this creates chains. If you can fell 10 enemies in a single move, you’ll be granted another full turn. The general type enemies and bosses can and will continually summon hordes of runts until they themselves are downed.
The different fairies you can choose from to customize your party adds variety to the combat. Some of them have ranged attacks while others are better at melee. Combat has a nice pace but it would be great if some of the enemy movements could be skipped or sped up. Whenever you’re in range of an enemy you can just hit A to attack them, making battle seem quick and snappy at first.
After a while though the repeated summoning and slow movements make battles seem to drag. Most story missions or battles will come with a sub-mission that you can choose to complete during the battle for an extra reward. Most of the time the sub-mission was “Defeat All Enemies,” which could be less simple than it sounds due to enemies summoning each other. Completing these quickly becomes worth it as you net some useful items.
You can further customize your characters with skill chips that you either buy or create. The item creation isn’t relatively deep (the same can be said about various things in this game) and it can be quite costly early on. It is necessary though, because your characters do not learn more skills as they grow in level, they only become capable of equipping more skill chips.
An interesting thing about items is that most of them can be used either to create skill chips or as-is during battle, although I could find no clear explanation of what items did when used so I had to resort to experimentation. This was kind of cool.
As you defeat enemies during a battle you build up tension, which can be expended to use certain special attacks. Regarding these special attacks, they must be unlocked by completing certain events with the different fairies. These events are how the developers slip in some visual novel/dating sim style character development. If you look closely, the game has all the trappings of a harem anime.
As the protagonist you choose which girl you want and try to reach all of the scenes with her. In this game you not only learn more about the girl and build a relationship but you also give her the more powerful attacks to use in battle, meaning that you’ll need to bother with these scenes even if you aren’t into this kind of mechanic. Don’t worry if you aren’t though, because these elements are not very deep.
There is an element system to be mindful of during combat, but it isn’t nearly as crucial as something like Fire Emblem’s weapon triangle. You can for the most part pick whichever team you want and do just fine, especially since you can equip skill chips of various elements to Luchs and the fairies.
If grinding is your thing you can spend time in the free battles that are unlocked early on, although the useful ones don’t really appear until later. The game is rather tame and doesn’t offer any significant challenges initially, although things heat up at the higher levels.
One of my biggest gripes is not being able to skip dialogue scenes and such because I hate having to watch the same things repeatedly when I’m running through a title for the second or third time. Lord of Magna is a major offender here, touting lengthy dialogue scenes and a generally slow story pace to boot, all with no way to skip or even speed up the scenes.
Despite that though the game has considerable replay value given that you make certain decisions based on your fairy of choice and there are seven different fairies to choose from and therefore scenes or outcomes to see.
Ultimately Lord of Magna definitely offers a fun, unique battle system and a colorful cast of characters. While it lacks the depth of game-play and overall polish of some other JRPGs on the platform, it is an enjoyable experience.
The lovely character designs, freedom of character customization, beautiful anime scenes and cool special attacks top off the fun combat. You may even be enamored with the story of God’s children and their omnipotent powers. However, it’s fairly obvious that the game could be much, much better. It winds up feeling only decent.