Developer: Studio Evil | Publisher: Intragames Co Ltd || Overall: 9.0/10
Super Cane Magic ZERO is like a wacky Zelda game with randomized loot. Go on an adventure through the zany world of WOTF and explore all of the random shit they put in for you to enjoy. The most obvious feature is the art, which is drawn by Italian cartoonist Simone “Sio” Albrigi, who has a very particular style.
On first glance, a lot of the “garnishments” of the game actually distract from what is underneath. I’ve found the game to be a fun, methodical action game, rather than a quick and bursty one. You have to plan your moves out ahead of time since a lot of the game hinges on the “twin-shooter” controls of pointing in the direction you want to hit something. Throwing things is also a very big part of the game and also relies on this “twin-shooter” aspect. Much of the combat relies on stunning an enemy, picking them up and throwing them against a wall or against another enemy for major damage. There are plenty of other abilities and items you can get that grant you different magic spells, so this changes up certain situations, but the most effective way to defeat enemies is by chucking them at a wall after they are stunned.
The actual gameplay loop comes with exploring the world of WOTF, which is a fairly large and intricately designed place. There are plenty of secrets and areas you can only access with certain items or abilities, which gives older areas new uses. Your goal is to find powerful wizards who will unlock talent trees for you and help you save the world of WOTF. As you go along in your adventure, you will also help rebuild the Kingdom of Poptarts with collectible items you get from killing enemies. This leads into the necessary grinding that you’ll be having to do, but most of it can be accomplished through normal play as you revisit areas over and over trying to find new things.
Loot is a very important part of the game. There are a lot of different stats that do different things, and they’re sometimes named not-so-intuitive things, which forces you to menu-hunt to get an explanation. Oddly enough, I could not figure out a way to easily compare loot without equipping and unequipping several times to see the differences they make in stats. Dropped loot will upgrade as you level up, so a lot of your stuff will be simply outdated as time goes on. There are different rarities of loot, and most of what you find is junk, but you’ll get a legendary every now and then that changes up gameplay quite significantly. Even though you level up, there still feels like a bit of enemy scaling going on, because the mechanics of the enemies are usually much more important than their stats. As a result, you don’t really “out-level” anything as most of the enemies in the game stay relevant.
The biggest gains in power come from talent trees, of which there are multiple. Most of the talent trees will have two sides and only allow you to go down one side, so you have to look ahead and see what you currently need. The exception is the first talent tree where you can go down both sides. You can always respec at a vendor if you need to walk on lava and you didn’t go down that tree, for instance. As one would expect, you gain talent points from levels. What isn’t as expected is being able to gain “bonus” talent points from finding “TVs” out in the world; there are also talent points to gain from finding unique items for the Poptarts museum. This sort of lets you get ahead of your levels a little bit, I suppose, though leveling up is something that happens pretty often, so it is hard to “feel” that bonus most of the time since there are a lot of filler talents.
There is local multiplayer only, and the game is definitely built with teams in mind. You can totally play by yourself, obviously, but when you are facing a huge group of monsters, having teammates would be helpful. Each character has their own set of equipment and inventory, so you can essentially start the game from scratch on a new character with different abilities. You can unlock more characters, but after about 25 hours of gameplay, I’ve only unlocked one. I also have to unlock about half of the game still, so I guess I just play slow.
The writing, unfortunately, feels lazy compared to everything else. It is mostly nonsensical for the sake of being so, and isn’t a motivating factor at all in playing. The jokes are good, but the main intent of the writing is really just to tell jokes and make fun of stuff rather than tell any sort of cohesive story. There could have easily been an interesting story and still have jokes, but whatever, I guess. It just felt like the amount of effort put into the art style and gameplay deserved a bit more effort in this regard. On the plus side, the humor makes its way into basically every aspect of the game including items, loot, and characters. There’s plenty of laughs to be had.
Super Cane Magic ZERO is definitely a game I’d recommend. It is a lot of fun and has a lot of humor in it. The gameplay doesn’t feel lacking and there’s definitely a “point” in endlessly exploring around trying to find all of the secrets that are laying around. If there were ever a “Squackle: The Game” it would be something similar to this, and I suppose I can only dream of what that would actually be, otherwise. For now, I’ll just play Super Cane Magic ZERO.