Title: Magical Diary
System(s): Windows, Mac and Linux
Release Date: June 19, 2011
Publisher (Developer): Hanako Games (Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar)
ESRB Rating: N/A, I’d say its appropriate for players 13 and up
Pros: Has autoplay and fast forward options, dungeons have multiple solutions depending on a characters magical specialty, online “yearbook” for completed playthroughs, nice assortment of character customization options, can update a character’s wardrobe to change appearance and stats, plenty of save slots, there’s a handy diary and spellbook to consult when needed. There are quite a few different paths and many secret events, so you have to play more than once to unlock them all.
Cons: It is a little expensive, but the replay value and free updates help make that palatable. Some spells are only used once, if at all. Only get to go into the dungeons a handful of times.
Overall Score:One thumb up and one thumb sideways, 87/100, B+, * * * 1/2 out of 5
Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar are well known in the realms of indie games for girls. The two have worked together on the popular Cute Knight Kingdom, Science Girls! and Date Warp. Now the two companies have released yet another game, a simulation along the lines of Princess Maker, Spirited Heart, Kudos 2 and Ranshima Monogatari. Players create a female avatar and then help her navigate her first year at a magical academy. The result is a game with plenty of chances to create a customized, life-sim experience.
Horses run wild their first year at Iris Academy
Magical Diary is about learning to use magic. Players create a custom female student who discovered she had magic when she was 13 years old. She is a wildseed, a person with no magical background who suddenly has the choice to develop her magical abilities at Iris Academy. Three years later, she’s starting her first year in Horse Hall.
From there, you just go through your freshman year at Iris Academy. Each week you choose which magic classes to attend, if you want to study, work out or perhaps just sleep to reduce stress. You’ll be given opportunities to bond with your new roommates or build relationships. You can follow the rules and earn merits, or run wild and gather demerits. It’s all up to you.
The magic is in the details.
Magical Diary gives people a lot of opportunities to customize characters. You have Smart, Strong, Cute, Weird, Red, Blue, Green, Black and White stats that can be built up throughout the story depending on the accessories you equip, the classes you take and the choices you make. There are also five romance options (Damien, Professor Grabiner, Donald, Virginia and Ellen) as well. Not to mention the dungeons you go through have multiple solutions, to allow players to focus on whatever color magic they like. There are lots of different events and factors, which means you’ll have to play at least three times, maybe four, if you want to find all the side characters or extra events. In addition, Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar are releasing updates for the games that add additional events and scenarios.
Unfortunately, you don’t get as many opportunities as you’d like to actually use magic in Magical Diary. There are plenty of spells to learn, some even requiring a certain level in two different kinds of magic to obtain them. Unfortunately, you’ll probably only use a third of the spells you learn. Occasionally, you’ll have chances to use the spells during daily life or when events happen, but typically magic is reserved for dungeons. There are six dungeons, but only five actually let you use whatever spells you want. Also, while there are multiple solutions for each dungeon, you’ll usually need to have one color at a certain level to pass the test. It’s best to create a separate save file after passing a dungeon, so you can come back and change your magic focus in case you have trouble in the next dungeon.
There’s also a cute extra feature included in Magical Diary. Aside from the trophy way of keeping track of your status, Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar has also provided an online Iris Academy Yearbook. After each playthrough, you can update the yearbook page for your character so people can see what path you choose and how you did. For example, you can see my first character’s yearbook page. It’s a good way to keep track of what you’ve done before. Plus, by checking to see what happened with other players you could discover additional events or options to shoot for the next time you play.
Magical Diary really lets you personalize each playthrough.
Magical Diary offers players lots of opportunities. While it may be a bit expensive, there is so much to do that it would be easy to spend a few weeks trying to follow each main path, let alone discover hidden secrets like Big Steve events or the Rose and Wasp society. It’s a great example of the recent assortment of games for girls inspired by the Princess Maker model and the possible trophies to earn provide even more incentive to keep replaying to discover as much as you can about Iris Academy and its characters. I hope to see Hanako Games and Spiky Caterpillar put together an expansion pack, to give people more opportunities to dungeon crawl or perhaps even allow players to take their characters through their sophomore, junior or senior years.
Site [Magical Diary]