At first glance LOSTMAGIC would appear to be an RPG adventure. However, itís really a real-time strategy game as you donít do anything between the battles other than read the lines of conversation between characters that serve as the gameís story. Now that Iíve gotten that out of the way, those of you searching for a new RPG for their DS can move on while the rest of you intrigued by LOSTMAGICís rather unique style of play can read onÖ

LOSTMAGIC follows the adventures of a young wizard named Isaac with a powerful heritage. Orphaned at an early age, Isaac is taken in by a kindly old lady with a penchant for powerful magic. She serves as Isaacís tutor until events in the world force him to meet his destiny and confront an evil that threatens the very existence of his world.

Draw a rune, cast a spell.
Making your way through the gameís story and guiding Isaac to victory is a pretty linear affair without much in the way of input on your part. You move Isaac to the designated location by touching it with your stylus, you make your way through a conversation between two or more characters after which a battle usually ensues. This part of the game is pretty basic and generally unexciting, so itís a good thing that the battles provide the core of the gameplay.

The battles all play out on the touchscreen. To move your character you click on him and then click on the desired destination. Your attacks are entirely magic-based and the game takes full advantage of the touchscreen when you cast spells. Pressing the left trigger will cause a magic circle to be overlain on the touchscreen. You then use the stylus to trace out ďrunesĒ. These runes are various shapes and patterns that each cast a specific spell. As youíre being attacked by the various monsters that are invading your world youíll need to select the right spell for the situation as some do more damage to certain types of monsters than others, some will affect more than one target, and others are defensive in nature. The speed with which you draw a rune and your accuracy in doing so will affect the power of the spell, which can make the difference between quickly taking out a monster or letting it get close enough to you to start doing damage. Your spells are powered by mana and casting a small number of spells is enough to quickly drain your mana meter leaving you as a pretty useless mage. Luckily the mana bar recharges itself fairly quickly, but youíll find yourself losing your share of battles because you ran out of mana at a critical moment.

Luckily for you, you wonít have to do all of your fighting on your own. One of your spells allows you to capture monsters to add to your entourage. Once captured you can order you monsters to attack enemy monsters by using the stylus to select both your monsters and the enemies that they should attack next.

LOSTMAGICís unique battle system makes for some fun gameplay, but it is a source of frustration as well. First of all, the constant mana shortage is a big problem in a game where everything depends on your magical abilities. The critical magic downtimes happen far too often and are the cause of far too many lost battles. The control of your monsters has its own set of issues. First of all, it a heated battle it can be difficult to tap the right monster. Secondly, you lose that selection after you give an order so if you want to move a monster and then have it attack, you must reselect it after it reaches its destination before you can give it an attack order. And thatís assuming that it actually reaches its destination. Pathfinding is non-existent in the game and monsters will try to make a direct run for their destination regardless of any obstructions in the way. If they hit one theyíll become stuck and then youíll need to select them again and guide them around the obstruction manually. This is a real problem as the maps are all small enough that youíll find yourself pretty much in constant battles without the time to spare to babysit your monsters to where they need to be.