Wizard of Legend is a 2D dungeon crawler where players make repeated attempts to complete a series of procedurally generated dungeons, unlocking a multitude of upgrades throughout the course of the game, win or lose. The result is a challenging game where players advance further with more practice, while enjoying an ever-increasing arsenal of abilities with each new attempt to clear dungeons. The highlight of the experience is a local two-player simultaneous game, which is both cooperative and versus.
As you might expect, the game takes place mostly in a series of dungeons. You battle hoards of enemies to earn currency, then return to the outside area and buy new abilities for your character and configure them for your next attempt. There are no puzzles to solve here, but rather mazes to navigate. You’re often moving quickly to uncover more of the map while trying to anticipate the next wave of monsters, which appear suddenly. There are magic armors, archers, shadows, slimes, and similar monsters. There are also pits, spikes, flames, and things like flying icicles trying to impede your progress.
At the core of the game is a strategy of choosing which abilities to bring into battle. You can pick four abilities to use at one time. These include a basic attack, a dash, a “standard” magic attack, and a “signature” (more powerful) spell. Both the standard and signature attacks have a short cool-down timer after each use, but can be used as often as they are ready. One of my favorite abilities is “Rippling Rupture”, which casts a vine out in a straight line, binding enemies and damaging them for as long as they’re in contact with it. There’s also a particular nuisance in the game, a group of enemies that run toward the player, which I found my own strategy for dealing with: I freeze them in place by using an ability called “Frost Fan”, or spin through them while doing damage with another ability, called “Tearing Whirlwind”. You can come up with your own techniques, which is part of the appeal of the game.
Wizard of Legend is very challenging and the difficulty can only be overcome through trial and error, which is very reminiscent of early NES games. In the dungeons, you can buy items and abilities, but it’s never obvious what they do until after you obtain them. This is the same for all abilities you purchase outside the dungeon. There are also surprisingly few opportunities to recover health in the game, so in order to advance it’s often necessary to avoid being attacked, more so than other games. Throughout the dungeons, I generally found myself moving and dashing away from monsters which appear, and then trying to corral them into a line or a group where I could use an ability to take care of them all at once as safely as possible. It’s hard, but doable!
The two-player modes are what really make this game great. During cooperative play, my friend and I kept discussing which abilities we wanted to bring into our next battle, which items we should buy when encountering vendors in the game, and our chances for success or failure during each attempt. The versus mode plays out in a single room with four pillars to hide behind. Because of the necessity to avoid one another at times during battle, I think that players will find themselves talking a lot. There’s an ability called “Creeping Tendrils”, so while I was playing with my friend, I kept telling him that I’m coming at him with my “tendies” (chicken tendies), “I’m dropping the tendies!” etc. We did have a problem playing this game with the Joy-Cons because the controllers are so small, and the game plays so fast and uses so many buttons that we kept accidentally opening the map on top of the entire screen. We were both screaming. I would still really recommend the two-player mode, however.
The graphics and sound in this game are good, but not memorable (sorry to sound harsh). The dungeons are procedurally generated, which makes sense, but it may be the cause of some issues. On one occasion, I tried to dash across a pit, only to discover that it was actually a wall that I was moving into, and a flying icicle, which I was trying to avoid, struck me. It’s possible to adjust the brightness of the game at any time, however.
Although fun can be had with solo play, this is one of those games that becomes a much better experience when playing with a friend. The high difficulty and randomized dungeons allow for almost infinite replay value. If you’re itching for more of an old-school game with a ton of spells and items (over 100) to discover, then you won’t want to pass this one up.
Wizard of Legend was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.
Adam “McSNES” Martinez, gaming drop-out and FuncoLand ghost, has spent his entire life training to review games for YOU, the loyal readers of Nintendo Times. Adam is permanently banned from Final Fantasy XI: Online, his favorite game.