Wizard101 Mini-review

What do you get when you mix ToonTown Online, Pokemon, Harry Potter, and a Trading Card Game? Wizard101.

I’ve been playing around in the beta for a few days now and I thought I’d share my first impressions.

Note: This game is targeted mainly at the pre-teen age group, but I strongly suspect there will be plenty of adults playing.

Character creation has two paths. You may answer questions about yourself and have a school of magic suggested, or you can skip that and just choose a school. There are seven schools of magic (technically six and one more that is a little of each school). The schools are: Fire, Ice, Myth, Storm, Life, Death, and Balance. The school you choose is where you will focus your “training” but you can still pick up skills from other schools. You build a deck with various cards (or “spells”) you earn during training or as rewards.

The turn-based combat takes place in a ring that is created when you encounter a creature. On the outside of the ring is a bunch of circles with symbols in front of them. The creature stands in a circle on one side and you on the other. A random selection of your cards show up and you choose one and then click on the creature you want to attack. After the round, if everyone survived, you do it again. The animations are very well done. Many of the spells are summoned creatures that attack and then go away. For example, you can summon a fire-cat and you watch as it leaps out to the center of the ring and then breathes fire on the creature you are fighting.

During combat, other players may choose to join the fight simply by running into the circle. This is often accompanied by another creature joining the fight as well. This system works just like in ToonTown which is a system I really like. It encourages people to play together. You don’t need to form a group, it just happens for the battle. The symbols in front of the small circles I mentioned earlier? They are there so you can see what each player is attacking. Beneath each player is an icon representing the spell they are using, and who they are using it on. This helps make it easier to coordinate your attacks. It also lets you see each players health and mana status in case someone needs help with a heal.

The game is quest driven with the usual yellow exclamation points and question marks over the NPC heads. You get XP, gold, items, and/or treasure cards as quest rewards. Items can be things like wands with attacks, clothing with bonuses for different damage types, etc. Characters advance with levels, and you have health and mana to manage.

Chat is menu driven, where you choose from drop down menus. There is a way to open up regular chat, but only other people with that options can understand you. This is just one of the several child safety features included in the game.

They included a variety of minigames that you can play to refill your potions (which replenish health and mana) and they are fun all by themselves. I played quite a bit of one game where you choose the strength and angle to shoot an arrow while being attacked from a castle. There look to be games that play like Bejeweled and Tetris as well as a few others.

Another great thing they do that ToonTown and Guild Wars (and soon Lord of the Rings Online) does is the way you get the game downloaded to your computer. To start playing it is only a very small download. You start the character creation and while you do that in the background the next areas are downloading. It does this throughout the whole game and it is a brilliant way of delivering the game to the customer.

It seems a lot deeper of a game than I first expected and so far I am having a lot of fun. There have been a few bugs, as you might expect in a beta, but nothing bad. Things like sound cutting out for a bit. All and all, I expect to continue playing this quite a bit during the summer as it is very enjoyable.

– Ethic

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I own this little MMO gaming blog but I hardly ever write on it any more. I'm more of a bloglord or something. Thankfully I have several minions to keep things rolling along.

26 thoughts on “Wizard101 Mini-review”

  1. Thanks for the mini-review. I’ve been trying to get into the beta for this, but no luck so far. Mostly its a game that might possibly appeal to my wife (she’s a huge harry potter fan), so I want to check it out and see if its worth trying.

  2. I’ve been enjoying the game the last few days. I’m quite surprised by how much ‘game’ there is there. It’s always nice to see a company treat a target audience of ‘kids’ like they actually have a brain.

    My big question now is how will they monetize it. It really should be something bundled into a service the parents will pay for. Ad based, or micro-transactions just seem evil when dealing with children.

  3. My account got into the beta a couple of days ago and I played with it for a couple of hours.

    My one wish is that they’d instance a little more in the very beginning — my first “kill ten rats” quest had me really confused as people and rats kept moving in and out of the fight.

    Maybe I just missed a tooltip somewhere. Having a tutorial fight where an NPC leapt into the fray, explaining how the multiplayer combat worked, would’ve gone a long way towards… er… not confusing me.

  4. @doug: I’m going with $9.95 a month based on a survey on the website and that would make sense as it matches ToonTown’s cost. No official word as far as I can see though. Interestingly, the account is set up with a master (parent) account that can create kids accounts tied into it. Not sure if that means the accounts can all play at the same time, but it should be a nice way to handle things even if they have to take turns logging in. I hope they can play together at the same time, I’d love that.

  5. I signed up for the beta as well but not in yet. My kids and I played Toontown before and liked its simple play. This game looked like it may be pretty fun as well. I’ve done enough raiding, etc.. in Wow & other MMOGs so this should be a relaxing break.

  6. lol literally 2 minutes after my post I got an email accepting me into the beta. It took 10 days from sign up, not bad. Off to download it now.

  7. Wizard101 seems to be getting a ton of coverage at the moment. It sounds like a really fun and, and I have signed up for the beta. Do you have any idea when the full version will be released?

  8. This game is amazing. It’s not super time-consuming like other MMO’s, and it has this draw-back quality that makes you want to play it. I would guess that the release is actually pretty soon, seeing as how beta is running like super super smoothly, even though its only been in beta for a month, the level of polish is quite incredible.

  9. Another good thing is the fact that this game plays very well even on my backup laptop: Pentium M 1.6GHz, 512MB RAM, with Mobility Radeon 9000 32MB graphics.

  10. Bah, Orc, I signed up weeks ago and you got in before me? :p Oh well.

  11. how long will i be able to play wizard 101 before they turn my acount off after they put me off the waiting list

  12. Thanks for the Wizard-101 info. I look forward to checking it out once it goes live. I also look forward to more posts from you about it ;)

  13. @Tobold: There is an NDA. If you’d like to post a review, I suggest you contact them for permission.

  14. im sorry this is bullshit. ive dowlaoded the game and when i log in, it takes 30mins-1hr for everything to get setup and let me play.

  15. Wizard101 is by far, the best free game there is out there. If you think about it, sure WOW is way better than this but at least you don’t have to download six CD’s just for the free trial. I’ve tried Battleon,Dragonfable, Runescape, but none of them compare to this game.

  16. dont play wizard 101 they suspended me after i was reported for no reason and i told them and they said they did not care after i subscribed for a whole year with my birthday money i payed $70

  17. what card is used to summon a creature that will sand on the circles beside you and help fight (like the enemy only good and kills the enemy)

  18. what card is used to summon a creature that will sand on the circles beside you and help fight (like the enemy only good and kills the enemy)?

  19. it is a minion if you are myth class, they let you have one right away, if you arent you have to wait like till you are level sixteen or so

  20. i am life school and i already have one, but i am almost level twenty. my minion is a fairy that will periodically heal you and your comrades. it does do the occasional attack though

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