Warlocked (Game Boy Color) review
"In July of 2000, this game showed up in the pages of my then-glossy copy of Nintendo Power, receiving a fine review. Summarized by the magazine, I instantly knew that I had to get this game, and after a month of searching, I acquired a rare copy of this brilliant game. "
In July of 2000, this game showed up in the pages of my then-glossy copy of Nintendo Power, receiving a fine review. Summarized by the magazine, I instantly knew that I had to get this game, and after a month of searching, I acquired a rare copy of this brilliant game.
What is Warlocked? That is the first question one would ask. Warlock is a Real Time Strategy game released in July of 2002 by the formerly unknown Bit Studios on the Gameboy Color. Yes, that's correct, the Gameboy Color. There was nothing special about the game, so just how is it so darn good? It is simple; Warlocked took the formula of games like Starcraft, and was adapted onto the Gameboy Color. Nonetheless, sadly, Warlocked is considered a sleeper hit, much like other strategy games, particularly Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, and for a time, Final Fantasy Tactics, and the Ogre Battle series.
Outfitted with two in-game saves, Warlocked changed the RTS world for some time.
Storywise, this game follows the same formula as others before it, the 'Take over the world by killing your enemies' story, but the spiraling plot is balanced in a constricting game that is addicting.
The Beast Army has risen up, led by Chief Zog, and the forces of Queen Azarel do not look so strong as to be able to completely repel Zog's efforts to overthrow the queen. In her last attempt to turn the tides of the war, the queen has made a call to the wizards of the realm, mostly humanoid sentient creatures that possess mystical powers. Alternatively, you play as the Beast Army, marching through the lands of the Humans, pillaging and plundering with a devastating fury. Throughout over three dozen laborious and challenging missions, circumstances end up altering your position in the war, oftentimes leaving you with only a few men against an entire legion. Perplexing events cause one's defeat, and propells the glory of another's victory. In one such mission, the Beasts build up a force under the cover of the night sky, and attack the humans before dawnlight, giving them an advantage through their predatory senses. In another mission, two humans have been captured, near-helpless, yet escaping a certain execution, recruit the services of a wizard who escorts them through what was formerly a fortress of impending doom. In a third, while trying to fight off impossible odds, your men will rescue one of your captured wizards within the enemy stronghold, and the wizard uses his powers to infect the entire castle. Overall, once you start playing Warlocked, a sense of the story will stop you from putting your handheld (or controller) down.
In Gameplay, the features of the game, while not truly conformist to a real civilization, is drummed down into simple controls. Deploying workers from your defended base, they harvest gold and fuel, and aid in the dispute between the two races by building your structures.
While I like the simplicity of this game, I find that sometimes it is a bit too simple, with only three buildings with unique sprites between races, and three different units that you can recruit as many as resources allow. Besides your basic Worker or Grunt, you have the Knight/Warrior and the Elven Archer/Skeletal Archer. Whereas Knights and Warriors are trained in hand to hand offensive combat, requiring purely gold for their training, the two Archers keep a balance between gold and fuel, and are used for long-combat activity.
Dragons are the mainframe of the triumvirate, with powerful flames and air power. Completely unable to be touched by the Knights and Warriors, these can only be brought down by arrows or spells that touch an area, and is resistant to the powers of most mages. They can be found only in some missions, by locating a dragon egg, hatching it, and bringing it to your base – but be warned, the mother might be around, and she won’t exactly be happy about you hatching her baby; so much, that she would in fact kill it.
The three buildings, despite there being a shortage of structures, make up the main activity of a ground-based medieval army. The Home is used as a supply depot, the Barracks and Training Pits are used for training your men, and the Towers are used to fend off enemy antagonists with deadly and completely accurate arrows. The base, sometimes a large building, sometimes a tree, sometimes even a spider, is where your basic units, Workers or Grunts, reside. Meanwhile, temples are used to summon up to three wizards at a time, but can be destroyed, while fortress walls are used to force the player to go around, go through, or retreat. I have to admit, though, that one very fun thing to do is to build up some buildings so that it makes it look like you have a town, and add patrolling soldiers to commission your defense. My recommendation for this is in Mission 5 of the Humans mission, just south of the fortress.
While waiting for the time it takes to train for your men, and building up your defenses, in every level there is a wizard. These wizards use the power of magic to do various tasks, from poisoning everyone within range, to building stronger towers, to turning enemies into gold! Of eight, four each of these superbeings will only follow one side, and will wreck havoc that is completely dedicated to your side. Keeping within a free-lanced strategy, you can summon a maximum of three mages, and you can only summon two until you find the third in a level. These wizards, surprisingly, can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. In one particular mission, you are able to use your wizard to cast a cloak over your Workers, allowing you to grab resources right under your opponent’s nose!
The controls are shockingly simple despite the genre that it was formatted for. Except for the screen scrolling of the D-Pad, and the pausing of the Select Button, A and B make up the entire library of commands, yet are still shockingly simple. Being used for picking individual soldiers to selecting buildings to construct, it commemorates the times that controls were simple. My only gripe with the controls of this game is that you can only select an area of 5x5, or in my case, 25 soldiers that I’m to lead in an assault against my intruding enemies. Even an extra row or column would have been much more decent.
The graphics make themselves known, with colorful units blending in with a cheery background, or a fiery blaze lightning up the sky of the night, while soldiers impale themselves onto death, blood splattering everywhere. However; while each unit has its own individual picture frame, some wizards have the same field sprite, and this is something I dislike, as I believe it would have fit the mood of an already good game much better, and there’s nothing more that I hate than using the same sprite for specifically different Playable Characters.
The sound has its own haunting effect on the game, from the sounds of swords clashing to the strumming of a bow, to the crackling blaze of a fire going on during the foreboding symphony of the night. The thunder from Stormwiz’s spell booms, and echoes with an effect of sheer giddiness.
Within the game, two mini-features are included. One is a Poker game, of which you can play to make more money for your armies. The second is a picture puzzle, in which a picture of a unit is taken, split into 16 even squares, and spread around, so you have to reorganize them.
Meanwhile, if you know a friend with Warlocked, you can enable two more things; First off, if your friend, say, has Pigwiz on his game pak, he can trade a wizard of yours from your game pak, and you will be able to use Pigwiz in both the Human and Beast campaigns.
Secondly, you can create an army, with up to 999 units per wave, separated into five waves. It includes any creatable or mobile unit. In a try at strategy, each unit is separated into an elemental class of Earth, Wind, Water and Fire, with one element being weak to another and strong against a third. Nevertheless, the satisfaction of gathering up 4996 dragons and beating your friend is quite nice. Where does one get the units from? At the end of each mission, the amount of units that you have recruited and that are still currently alive/active are added to your unit count in the Armies, and your remaining money is stockpiled, allowing you to buy units for your Army.
Replay value is decent. A normal restarting of the game pits you in Mission 1 again, but with all the wizards you ended your campaign with. A larger restarting of the game erases all your wizards, but will allow you to recruit different wizards; for you see, there are more wizards than there are missions, and in a normal restarting, you will always have a predetermined set of wizards, never changing. By restarting completely, you will get a different set of wizards.
Now, nay or say, buy or rent? If you can find the game, I will have to recommend that you buy it as long as it’s not more than 30 dollars American. If you can’t buy it but you can rent it, find out how much it costs to pay for this unknown game if you lose it, and if it’s under 30 dollars, rent it and “Lose It”. Warlocked is too good of an exhilarating experience for me to ever think about passing up. Even with its flaws, its the one-chance thing of a lifetime.
Community review by yamishuryou (July 19, 2004)
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