REVIEW: The Magic of Scheherazade


Culture Brain developed a few quirky titles that came stateside. The RPGs are Little Ninja Brothers (NES), Ninja Boy 2 (Game Boy), and Magic of Scheherazade. I like them all for the same reasons: interesting setting, unusual RPG systems, and strange humor (which Wanda would appreciate). Magic of Scheherazade has an Arabian Nights theme, which I am a sucker for—Al-Qadim: The Genie’s Curse (PC) and Exile (Genesis) are favorites. Some compare it to Legend of Zelda, but that’s half-baked. Almost every bit of Magic of Scheherazade is slightly unexpected.

Examples:

*Wandering the world map screen-by-screen, you battle enemies in action-based combat gathering money and experience. But randomly you’ll enter a turn-based menu-driven battle where you control a squad of genies (of your choosing) and cannon fodder mercenaries. The action battles are typical swing-and-dodge affairs, but the turn battles involve utilizing enemies’ elemental weaknesses, which makes genie selection (and trial and error) important.

*There is a class system with 3 classes (fighter, saint, magician), but the differences are small and you can switch at any town. Each fights better against certain enemies, and there are instances where you need a particular one to progress. It’s a pretty arbitrary implementation of a class system—a good example of Culture Brain’s weirdness.

*Magic of Scheherazade progresses in a series of chapters, each chapter taking place in a new area with new towns and dungeons. With no way to backtrack, the game is divided into “levels” in the traditional sense. Not unheard of, but another unusual decision.

*Then there’s time travel. A certain magic spell will show you hidden doors to warp you back and forth through time. Primarily it’s a puzzle-solving device. For instance, going back in time to plant a tree and then forward to collect it’s fruit. Mostly the time doors are for optional quests—good since they are well hidden and the puzzles are cryptic.

Magic of Scheherazade is a pretty fun. The originality in both setting and systems will keep you interested, but it’s traditional enough to be accessible. Aside from deciphering the badly translated clues and muddling through the puzzles, the challenge is medium, but rarely frustrating. And you’ve got to dig the Culture Brain quirkiness.

Fans of Magic of Scheherazade are required to check out Little Ninja Brothers for a similar but unique experience.


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