Magician Lord

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Magician Lord
North American cover art
Developer(s) Alpha Denshi
Publisher(s) SNK
Producer(s) Akira Ushizawa
Designer(s) Takashi Egashira
Programmer(s) Eiji Fukatsu
Satoshi Okada
Hiroyuki Ryu
Artist(s) Akira Ushizawa
Shinji Moriyama
Tomoharu Takahashi
Composer(s) Yuka Watanabe
Hiroaki Shimizu
Hideki Yamamoto
Platform(s) Arcade, Neo Geo, PlayStation Network,[1] Virtual Console
Release April 26, 1990[2]
Genre(s) Platform game
Mode(s) Single player
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Neo-Geo
CPU Motorola 68000, Zilog Z80
Sound Yamaha 2610
Display Raster, 304 x 224 pixels (horizontal), 4096 colors

Magician Lord (マジシャンロード Majishan Roodo?), is a side-scrolling platform game developed by ADK that was released on April 26, 1990. It was a launch title for both the Neo-Geo MVS (arcade) and AES (home) systems, and was one of the pack-in games for the Neo-Geo AES. The game was re-released through the Virtual Console download service in Europe and Australia on October 26, 2007, and in North America on October 29, 2007. It was later released for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable through the PlayStation Store. It was previously included in SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1, released for the Wii, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable in North America on May 1, 2008.


A boss fight gameplay screenshot

The protagonist Elta has to jump, shoot and climb his way to the end of each level where he must beat a servant of Gal, along with one of boss creations, in order to progress through the game. To complete the game Elta must reach the final stage and defeat the main antagonist Az Atorse himself.

The gameplay is typical to a standard action-platformer fitted for arcade machines and thus very challenging. If the player takes too long to complete a stage, Elta will be harassed by an invincible monster. Like many earlier SNK games, it is well known for its challenging difficulty.[3]

Aside from the fantasy themes there's an added twist of transformations that make the wizard more powerful and grants him new attacks. When he has not been transformed, Elta's primary form of attack is a weak but fast-moving energy projectile that he can shoot in four directions; left, right, up and (while in midair) down.

These are the forms that Elta can assume by picking up combinations of colored orbs found throughout the stages:

  • Dragon Warrior: In this form Elta attacks by breathing fire; a continuous short-range attack that can also be aimed diagonally unlike his standard attack.
  • Waterman: The Waterman form attacks with water grenades – blue bubbles of water that burst into water pillars upon touching the ground. The attack can hit several times for additional damage but only covers a small area.
  • Poseidon: A more powerful version of the Waterman, Poseidon shoots wide waves of water that travels along the ground for several hits. It does severe damage and causes enemies to freeze and shatter on impact. While very powerful, this form moves very slowly.
  • Shinobi: The Shinobi form gains increased agility and attacks with powerful magical arcs of fire which are wide but slow-moving.
  • Samurai: While limited in range, the Samurai form is the only form that can attack through walls, shields or even multiple enemies, using a boomerang-like energy attack that does heavy damage.
  • Raijin: The Raijin form gives Elta's jumping ability a big boost as well as a unique attack that creates a continuous electrical field around his body.


The wizard Elta is on a quest to save his homeland from the evil wizard Gal Agiese. Gal is seeking the god of destruction Az Atorse, whom he plans to resurrect using eight tomes of mystical power. Elta must battle through eight levels to find each of the tomes before he can reach Gal's fortress and seal away the evil deity.


Review scores
Publication Score
Famitsu 18 / 40 (Neo Geo)[4]
GameFan 377 / 400 (Neo Geo)[5]
GamePro 25 / 25 (Neo Geo)[6]
IGN 6.5 / 10 (Wii)[7]
Nintendo Life 7 / 10 (Wii)[8]
Joystick 96% (Neo Geo)[9]
The Games Machine 88% (Neo Geo)[10]

On release in Japan, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Neo Geo version of the game an average rating of 18 out of 40.[4] On release in North America, it received positive reviews. GamePro gave the Neo Geo version ratings of 5 out of 5 in all five categories of Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, Fun Factor and Challenge. They stated that they "consider this the best action game for the system."[6] GameFan's four reviewers scored it 99%, 91%, 92%, and 95%, referring to it as "one of the best action games ever" and "the king of action/platform games".[5]

IGN gave the Virtual Console release of Magician Lord a rating of 6.5 out of 10 stating that "Fans of Capcom's Ghouls 'N Ghosts series and the old-school, linear Castlevania adventures would probably be the closest candidates to becoming appreciative players of Magician Lord".[7] Nintendo Life gave it 7 out of 10 concluding "Magician Lord is still a classic game and the fact that people still regard it as a decent platform romp speaks volumes for the quality of this appealing title".[8]

Cancelled sequel[edit]

In 1995, Magician Lord was supposed to receive a sequel that was first going to be released for the Neo Geo AES system. However, it was cancelled during development along with Crystalis II.

The premise of the game continues two years after the events of the first game. Gal Agiese and Az Atorse have been defeated, and sealed away by the powers of Elta (the newly proclaimed Magician Lord). During this period of time, darkness and despair loomed over Cadacis (Elta's homeland as described in the introduction of the first game) and its citizens. If the darkness outweighed the light of the land, Gal Agiese and Az Atorse would be resurrected for the third time, and wreak havoc upon Cadacis once more. The Queen saw the seal breaking again, but using the last of her magic, one of the eight tomes of power arrives in the clutches of Elta. Elta, noticing the cataclysm starting once more, finally reaches the castle. Elta must now find the Queen, and prevent the third resurrection of Gal Agiese and Az Atorse.

The game was eventually moved to the Neo Geo CD as a non-linear, free exploration platform game. The Neo Geo CD version's release was going to serve the same purpose as Crossed Swords II did when it came to the Neo Geo CD. Production then carried over toward the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1998, simply known as Magician Lord. Only an alpha test version of the game for the Neo Geo Pocket Color was ever produced. It was going to be developed upon even more, but in the end, the sequel was cancelled due to Alpha Denshi filing for bankruptcy. After 14 years of seclusion, the alpha test cartridge was finally unearthed at[11] The game offered more transformations than the first game, and played very similarly to the likes of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, with the main difference being Magician Lord's ability to transform.


External links[edit]