App of the Week: Spellcraft - School of Magic
For those who can't quite get over the fact that the Harry Potter franchise ended at Book 7, or Potterheads (is it kosher to call them as such?), here's a delectable fix for you all: Spellcraft - School of Magic, where you get to relive your fantasy of studying in a place not unlike Hogwarts, casting spells and whatever it is that young wizardlings do best, all on your iPod touch, iPhone or iPad.
Brought to you by Appy Entertainment, Spellcraft - School of Magic essentially lets you play the role of a young wizard, or wizardress(?), except that you start off charged with the task of looking for your teachers. Ironic, considering the last thing any student averse to the idea of exerting oneself would want to do would be to look for a missing teacher.
Your Very Own Magical Greenhouse
Instead of employing the online gaming cliche of spell-casting through the use of mana or spiritual power, Spellcraft stays true to the tradition of wand-waving, though instead of yelling out loud combinations of vaguely Latin words, spell cards are used in combat.
The element of potion-making from the world of Harry Potter is also incorporated in Spellcraft, save that instead of potions, spell cards are produced and only with the right ingredients. Speaking of which, you are also provided with your own little greenhouse, where you can grow the ingredients for whichever spell cards you need at the moment, which may take a while.
With the proper ingredients inside the cauldron, the last thing left to be done is stir them all up. The fun bit about the stirring process is that within 10 seconds, you will need to fill up the yellow bar on the left side of the screen as much as possible in order to maximize the resulting number of usable spell cards by stirring in a specified direction (usually clockwise) while keeping the meter pointer above said bar as close to the middle of the meter as possible, in effect keeping the meter green.
So now you have your wand and a set of spell cards. What now?
As I've mentioned, you won't need to shout into your screen seemingly meaningless strings of words in order to cast spells here.
Rather, you can choose any card deemed capable of killing an enemy in an instant during combat; then wait till the glow of magical energy reaches the peak of your wand, which would require a great sense of timing on your part, before holding your finger on the screen for a period of time till the glow reaches optimal size in order to cause maximum damage. You should take extra care not to hold your finger for too long, as the spell would come out weak and feeble.
Your enemies are represented as cards as well, each with their own element among four: fire, earth, water and chaos. The elemental system, which is also incorporated in your spell cards, is best described by a chain between the elements' strengths and weaknesses: fire burns earth, earth absorbs water, water puts out fire. Chaos is only vulnerable or resistant to any of the three elements at random. Hence, chaos.
There's a dungeon system which looks like it could go on forever, where the deeper you go, the more formidable and menacing the creatures that await you will be. From rats to bats, ghosts to dragons, you'd think the powers that be would have included in the school brochure your chances of survival in school being close to nil in the first place.
Pets are allowed in school as well, though only a disappointingly small number can be found throughout the game, as opposed to the exotic range of fauna the students of Hogwarts would bring to school: a cat, a wolf cub and an owl. Boosts are granted by each pet to your character: at full health, the cat, acquired after dungeon level 8, ramps up your resistance to all four elements by an additional 8 points, while the wolf cub, acquired after dungeon level 25, gives an additional 16 points to elemental resistance and 1 point to speed. You can either repeatedly tap on your selected pet to fill up its health meter, or feed it with pet food, which is also much quicker, though much less likely to happen upon in your dungeon runs.
In a nutshell...
God knows what those monsters are doing down in the school dungeons, as much as he would know what happened exactly to those teachers you'll be assigned to find. In the end, it's the journey that counts, as it's as close as you'll ever be to Hogwarts and the sinister forces that awaited Harry Potter within.
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