Preview: Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color

Do you believe in Pengel?


Zoe, Taro and a magic writing instrument.

You know you want one!

It seems that each body part is drawn separately.

Doodle in the grass!

Dorag gets what's coming to him.

Some battle complexities.

In my books, games sink or swim based on the damage meters.

Dialogue size is key as well.


Draw me and win - battles!
Platform: Sony PlayStation 2
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Agetec
Rated Everyone

Those who spend their idle time sketching monsters on their math books have finally been given a better way to dwindle their time away. Magic Pengel: The Quest For Color (the game formerly known as Color Quest formerly known as Rakugaki Kingdom) is an RPG where players draw a monster, build it up through battle, then... well, isn't that enough?

The game concept isn't any more difficult than that. MP:TQFC has often been compared to Pokémon, and it is true that there are many similarities. With this title, however, RPGamers are more likely to feel an affinity for their monsters since they made them themselves. Some of them, anyway. It is possible to gain new, pre-made Doodles (as the sketched monsters are known) from other Doodlers. All the player's Doodles are stored in a special sketchbook.

The other simple thing is the interface with which the player's Doodle is created. The game's creators had to get help from Tokyo University to make it that way, but make it that way they did. The player has simply to maneuver the (magic) pen (gel?) to form a simple outline, and the game injects the humble shape with life. By adding appendages and different colors, the Doodler can further customize his or her Doodle, and also flesh out its attributes. A Doodle color scheme dominated by red means that the Doodle will have a high attack, and the presence of green means that the Doodle won't be wanting for Hit Points. Appendages and other characteristics serve similar purposes. A big beer belly means, again, more HP, but longer appendages might mean more agility. Weapons (objects of any sort) can be drawn in the Doodle's hands for an attack boost. The game's capacity for determining how a couple of lines the player has drawn should affect the Doodle is quite impressive. That is, if it really is everything it's cracked up to be.

There are some restrictions aside from the player's creativity, though. The Doodle can only be improved so much at the beginning. It has to go through battles for the Doodler to be able to sketch more things onto it. Obtaining certain items allows for improvements to be made, as well. As the Doodle gains more and more experience, and the player draws more and more additions, then by the end of the game the creation will be something to behold.

The game itself isn't that hard on the eyes, either. The graphics are all bright colors, mainly pastel - which certainly helps offset the fact that a lot of game time is spent with a plain paper background. Another small pitfall would be all the stats and menus on the battle screen. For impatient eyes it could seem a tad busy. All in all though, the graphics are top-notch and inviting. The overall effect is reminiscent of anime, more so than any given cell-shaded game. The sound might not be so inspiring. There is a complete set of character voice-overs, but one whiny kid voice is reportedly enough to make one cringe.

The game's scenario starts out with the player's Doodle creating a ruckus by taunting the neighbor's dog. Through these circumstances, the player meets up with Zoe and Taro, who are on a mission to find their missing father. They look directly at the screen when addressing their new Doodler friend, and the player's character is never actually seen. This technically makes MP:TQFC a first-person game. The trio goes on a journey where they uncover the world's mysteries, and visit towns where they fight other people's Doodles.

The battles pit one monster against another. The Doodle can only use each of its abilities once per battle, so the player must choose carefully. Also, there is what has been described as a "rock, paper, scissors" system governing attack strength. This can be offset by a variety of block moves, however.

Magic Pengel is targeted towards a younger crowd, which could have an effect on the difficulty of the gameplay. That won't be enough by far to drain the game of its appeal. There is a two-player mode where two Doodlers can whip out their sketchbooks and fight with their respective Doodles, and there is still the joy of creating the Doodles themselves. One really has to tip one's hat to Taito for creating a system that allows such creativity to be functional. It is decidedly not every game where what RPGamer's own Andrew Duff describes as "Hard and Wiggly" body parts play a role in character creation.

·You can check this game's release date here.    
by Matthew Scribner

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