Yes, it’s a kid’s game, and yes, I’m still reviewing it. While it is most definitely aimed at a much younger audience than the other games I’ve reviewed, Wizard 101 is still one of the better ones. Wizard 101 eschews the typical formula for MMO combat in favor of a card-based battle system. Players take turns playing their cards (or choosing not to in order to build up power for a more powerful attack).
The game creates a battlefield with spots for both players and enemies, anyone wishing to join in on the battle need only walk onto the field. This can get annoying, however, as you can inadvertently step onto a battle zone and get stuck fighting an enemy you have no interest in. You can choose to flee most battles, thankfully, but it still takes a moment.
When you first join the game there isn’t much you can do aside from lay down attack cards, but as you progress you gain access to more interesting choices, such as cards that reduce your damage taken or increase damage done, healing, etc.
There are multiple schools of magic you can choose from, ranging from elemental (fire, ice, lightning) to summoning (which uses creatures to aid in fighting) to life (the obligatory healing school). To start with you can choose primary school, and a secondary school, however later on down the road you can choose a third and fourth school, there are enough schools of magic that there are plenty of unique combinations though.
The developers of Wizard 101 have chosen a stylized look for the game, rather than trying for realistic, it’s somewhat cartoonish, but still pleasing enough to look at.
Mana depletes with each spell used, more powerful spells taking two or more turns to complete and of course additional mana. Health can be picked up just about anywhere in the form of floating orbs that look similar to “wisps” in the Warcraft series, but it’s much harder to find mana wisps floating around. Fret not though, you can recharge your mana by drinking potions, and playing mini-games (coincidentally you can even get more potions from the minigames). The better you do in the mini-games the more, and better rewards you’ll get for them. The mini-games themselves are entertaining for long enough to get your required items/mana, but not much longer than that, they’re only simple games, something you might play in a web browser. Overall I like it. It’s actually quite fun once you get a few of the more interesting cards, but getting to that point could turn off some people.
Wizard 101 is a free game with microtransactions, the microtransaction items could be very helpful to new players, however, they are far from required, you can craft items, as well as pick them up, it’ll just take you a bit longer. So no complaints about micro-transactions here. My one and only complaint is the voiceovers! Oh god, they’re terrible, read in silly voices for the young demographic, and extraordinarily simplistic, but you can’t really fault them for catering to their target demographic!
You can play Wizard 101 for free at http://www.wizard101.com