A little romance. Most of your relationships in Wand of Fortune Portable are more like friendships, and the game ends when the real romance is about to begin. I liked all the guys on offer, but my first playthrough took so long and was so tedious that I have lost all the will to play any more of this game.
Story: Lulu, the protagonist, enrolls in Mils Clea Magic Academy to fulfill her dream of becoming a magician like her grandmother. In their world, everyone belongs to one of six elements, but preliminary tests show Lulu doesn’t have an element at all. Not to worry though, hanging out with someone long enough naturally dyes you in their colors. Now Lulu has six months to find an element while raising her INT, DEX and MP stats, or her magic will be sealed forever.
Characters: Six bishies, three teachers, one room mate, four classmates. A small cast for a game set in an academy, and the lack of people to interact with hurts the game in the long run. The bishies are Julius (wind), Noel (earth), Bilal (water), Lagi (Fire), Alvaro (Light) and Est (Dark). Studying with them raises your affiliation with that element, while talking to and going out of dates with them raises their affection for you. Lulu herself is like the reincarnation of Pollyanna with an added sweets fetish. She is relentlessly positive and never gets down for more than a little while. I thought I’d find her annoying, but she’s so unwavering in her positivity that she’s hard to dislike.
For this playthrough I decided to go after Lagi. Unlike the others, Lagi can’t use magic. He’s at the Academy as a research subject, because he turns into a baby dragon every time a girl bumps into him. This is because he’s half-dragon, and the time is fast approaching when he’ll have to pick whether to be a dragon or a human for life.
When he first meets Lulu he’s cranky and prickly, just the sort of guy that’s fun to tease. Slowly but surely she wears him down, but he’s still more tsun than dere towards her until the final confession. In the end it turns out his affliction was all in his mind, ‘cos he didn’t want to pick. In order to save Lulu from a salamander he turns into a dragon, but instead of leaving the academy, he decides to hang around a little longer and confesses to Lulu at the end. Aww.
Lagi’s route was fun enough. He was involved in some very comical events. And his baby dragon form is cute. However if I hadn’t picked him, I’d have gone for Est, the short sarcastic shota. He’s obviously suffering from some kind of existential angst, and Lulu’s just the girl to help him get over himself. I’ll be Ike to your Soren any day, Est baby!
Truth be told, though, the guy I really wanted to get with was my clumsy awkward teacher Mr. Elbart. But you can’t go for the forbidden relationship right off the bat, it’s just not done. I mean, what will people say about my Lulu? I was going to save him for my next playthrough, but I haven’t got it in me any more. Lulu gets to stay unsullied… for now.
Gameplay: Take lessons to raise your stats. Study with guys to raise your affiliation. Talk with them to make them like you. Solve mysteries and help people on the weekend. Go out on dates with the guy you like. Go shopping when you get the chance. That’s…about it, really.
The good stuff first:
1) It’s a dating sim/visual novel hybrid. There’s more to it than just non-stop reading. Not much more, but it’s the thought that counts.
2) You can check affection levels and your parameters at any time.
3) You can skip dialogue and events forcefully, unless you are required to make a choice. Unfortunately you have to make choices every single day, so skipping goes in fits and starts.
4) Affection, affiliation and magic stats are all very easy to raise. Just by playing normally, you can make a guy fall fully in love with you within 3 or 4 months.
5) The art is very nice and the few CGs you get are cool. Dunno why they ration out the CGs over the course of the game and then suddenly dump 5 on you in the last hours, but a CG is a CG so I’ll take ’em.
6) The voice acting is okay. Est sounded suitably shota, Alvaro was appropriately smarmy, Julius could be nerdy and serious in turns, etc. Nobody really stood out, but nothing was bad either.
7) There’s an interesting card mini-game you can play. The guys have fixed patterns of play, so it’s easy enough to beat them. But it’s a nice diversion from the usual.
The bad stuff.
1) This game is TEDIOUS. AS. HELL. Every single day you’re forced to watch Lulu wake up, talk to someone in the lobby, pick a class/guy to talk to, help someone, talk to someone on the way home, pick someone to talk to again, go to bed and fall asleep. 6 months x 28 days = 168 times! Every couple of weeks something interesting happens and shakes up the routine, but otherwise you have to watch the exact same scenes over and over again.
2) Not enough exploration or adventure. It’s set in a Magic Academy, but anyone expecting Mana Khemia-style adventures will be sorely disappointed. You rarely leave school even on weekends, so all your activities take place in the same few locations. You rarely interact with the townspeople and most other students are black silhouettes. It’s a very boring academy, and thus a very boring game.
3) The game is too long. I know I’ve put at least 15 hours into this game, possibly more, and I don’t think I’ve gotten enough out of it.
4) The final arc had waaaaaaay too much talking. I was okay until that point, because the scenes kept switching and things moved along quite quickly. But the last arc was just dull. Characters taking forever to figure out stuff I already knew. Having the same arguments. Saying the same things in different words.
5) Without a guide you might end up with the wrong stats for the guy you want to woo. A fortuneteller in town told me I need to raise MP for Lagi, but she didn’t tell me how much. I finished the game with 53 MP, 26 INT and 26 DEX and got the ending all right, but what if I had needed 60 or 65 MP instead? I would have been screwed.
Conclusion: I liked the characters, I liked the art, I liked the setting, I liked the story. But I intensely disliked the gameplay. So much so that it overwhelmed all the positive parts of the game and left me exhausted and more than a little irritated by the end. I enjoyed my one playthrough of Wand of Fortune Portable, but there’s no character I like enough to want to play the game again. Lagi end is canon! There are no other endings! On to the next game!