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Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers

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Released: 1997

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: PC - Windows

Publisher: MicroProse

Developer: MicroProse

Submitted by: Darran Jones

Magic the Gathering is one of my favourite ever games, so you'll be somewhat unsurprised to learn that I'm a huge fan of Microprose's excellent PC version.

Set in the mystical world of Shandalar, your task is to defeat five rival wizards (representing the five colours of magic) and restore peace to the shattered world. This is achieved by simply playing Magic the Gathering – beautifully recreated by the way – against a variety of different enemies.

What's interesting here though is that each duelist has their own life totals and card decks, meaning that the game offers a surprising amount of variety. A Druid for example only has 6 life points and some pretty weak cards at his disposal, while duelists like the Summoner have access to powerful rares like Birds of Paradise, which give them a huge benefit when you first face them.

Whenever you do defeat an opponent you're given the choice of winning specific cards or learning a clue to defeat the region's wizard. This is where the beauty of Magic the Gathering becomes fully apparent as you're able to continually edit your deck, until it becomes a formidable creation.

Visiting towns enables you to buy new cards and food, edit your deck and accept quests, while hidden ruins that appear on the world map can reveal new monsters to duel or powerful cards to use. Microprose even added 12 exclusive new cards to the game that weren't available anywhere else;including the powerful Aswan Jaguar, Rainbow Knights and Gem Bazaar, which made the game even more desirable to hardcore fans.

In fact, the only downside to this excellent game is that it didn't receive anywhere near the original expansions that were promised and that the first version of the game suffered from a bug that enabled you to only play it on Windows 95 (I've managed to play it on Vista with only a few graphical glitches here and there though).

If you do decide to hunt Magic the Gathering down, then be sure to pick up the the Duels of the Planeswalkers version as it features the expansion pack Spells of the Ancients and 80 additional cards from Legends and The Dark.

With Wizards of the Coast now making a fortune on the (admittedly excellent) online version of Magic the Gathering, it's unlikely that we'll ever see a similar offering like Microprose's effort, so do everything you can to get your hands on a copy. It really is worth it.