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Developer: Phyken Media
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The story in shoot’em up Wizard Ops starts off fairly cheerful. Four Wizards, each with the power to control an element of nature, protect a vast kingdom ruled by a King and Queen, bringing about peace and prosperity. As well as protectors to the kingdom, they also watch over the Princess, keeping her out of harm’s way.

Alas, tragedy strikes and the Queen is killed while dabbling in magic. Distraught, the King forbids any further use of magic, and locks the Wizards away. However, as time passes the situation in the kingdom worsens, and the Wizards are now needed once again to battle the Mad Maker and stop him from kidnapping the princess.

Wizard Ops sees the player control the Fire Wizard throughout the duration of the game. Rather than follow the ‘left to right’ shoot’em up level template used in games such as Metal Slug, Wizard Ops uses a system similar to Space Harrier, which sees the Wizard shoot into the screen.

The controls couldn’t be simpler. The screen has a designated area at the bottom, and to move the Wizard left and right all the player has to do is swipe their finger in the corresponding direction. Doing this also triggers off weapons, which auto-fire, and to control the targeting reticule all the player has to do is swipe up or down. It’s very responsive.

The Wizard can equip two weapons at a time from a choice of 18. These can be purchased from the shop using coins dropped by enemies, although with some the player first needs to find their plans scattered about levels. There’s some good variety on offer, bearing in mind the fire nature of the character, allowing for some short range/long range strategies.

Graphically Wizard Ops looks great, chucking about a lot of characters on-screen at any one time. The downside is that occasionally the frame-rate dips and stutters, although not to the point where it ruins the game. Michael Winslow (of Police Academy fame) was also brought on board to do the sound effects.

The main downside of Wizard Ops is just how easy it is. I blasted through the six levels in not much over half an hour, and there wasn’t much incentive to return as the game is very generous with coins, therefore I could afford all the weapons I wanted to purchase. It’s been made very clear this is just the first episode, but a bit more challenge would have been good.

Overall Wizard Ops is an enjoyable experience, with a solid control scheme. Here’s hoping the next installment offers a bit more of a challenge.

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