Review of Darkness, then Redness, then Whiteness…
Many moons ago, Toby Turner, known as the YouTube persona Tobuscus, launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund his mobile game Tobuscus Adventures: Wizards. It was met with resounding success, garnering over $640,000 from over 11,000 people in exactly one month. Pretty impressive, right? This was July of 2013. Throughout the years, Mr. Turner experienced setbacks with his developers and products, but he always kept his donors in the loop. Flash forward to 2015, where the final product was released, initially for iOS and, finally, Android. I believe Wizards will attempt to make its way onto Steam in the future, too.
So what is Wizards? It’s a combination of all the fun popular mobile games of the past decade. Cleverly combining touch screen capabilities with a horde-mode type mentality lends itself well to the final product – barring a few setbacks.
The premise of Wizards is that the imbecilic Tobuscus, his seemingly together pal Gabuscus, and dog pal Gryphon have been chased to the front porch of the Wizard of Whiteness. Any fan of Tobuscus is there because they appreciate his hilarity and charm, both of which shine in a tremendous fashion in Wizards. The game is extremely tongue-in-cheek, and it knows exactly what it is – a game! Dialogue from Tobuscus, who clearly understands he’s a video game character, is pure gold; this is truly some of my favorite game writing in recent memory. Nearly every piece was executed perfectly, leaving me in tears while fending away the army of zombies.
Alas, I digress. So, Tobsuscus accidentally kills the Wizard of Whiteness (don’t worry, he was luckily wearing a revival ring) and inherits the wizard’s spellbook… A tablet. In order to cast the spells, Tobuscus and the player have to draw the arcane symbol on the respective touch screen. Spells can be found throughout the levels, generally after defeating lesser wizards. This journey will, ultimately, lead to a clash with the Wizard of Darkness.
The game shows its self-awareness commonly throughout. For example, when the Wizard of Whiteness explains that his reincarnation ring takes two months times for him to be brought back to life, Tobuscus asks, “Two months real time or game development time?” At other moments, the Wizard of Whiteness declares that, “This is not a game!” Tobuscus simply replies with: “Yeah, it is.” The cleverness of the dialogue and plot, when fashioned as it is in Wizards, is pretty wonderful. I’m always a fan of breaking the norm, and Wizards certainly succeeds in that aspect.
All of this can be seen in the opening cinematic of the game above.
Gameplay is very simple. Tobuscus, Gabuscus, and pet/dog/commander-in-chief Gryphon hold up in the tower of the Wizard’s castle. As zombies approach (there are multiple pages of zombie types, too), Tobuscus must destroy each and every one by wielding his spellbook. Again, to cast a spell, the player must draw the symbol on his/her touch screen while targeting a foe. Double tapping a foe will also stun it. For the most part, this system works. The only spell I ever had trouble with was the tornado spell. It’s either really difficult to swirly-swirl around on a touch screen, or the input detector is not quite up to par. Either way, I could eventually get the spell off, and it never usually cost me much time.
In order to advance the story, the player must eliminate enough of the zombies, collect stars and relics, and teleport to the next area on the map (there are 20 locations). Not only can the player wield powerful spells, but Gabuscus also throws rocks upon enemies at the gates, stunning them, and Gryphon can be blasted from the castle cannon, carving away at enemies. The castle can also be upgraded to bring additional defenses, and Tobuscus has access to many items, including robes, wands, and more. These can be purchased with the plentiful amounts of gold dropped at each level, or with purchasable items (that can also be found on each level). These purchasable items do require micro transactions, but I never actually found myself needing them. Micro transactions, to me, are only a negative impact on a game if you actually require them to complete the experience or if there is a competitive edge in multiplayer.
The only complaint that I did have outside of the minor spell issues is that often times the dialogue in game would cut out or crackle. This was really too bad because it generally always entertained me whenever it fully made it through.
Tobuscus Adventures: Wizards costs $4.99 in the iOS app and Google Play stores. While this price isn’t anything to cheer about, it also isn’t as expensive as many other games. Plus, anyone who donated enough to the Indiegogo campaign received their copy of Wizards, anyway. I don’t often buy games, but Wizards would be one that I would have purchased on my own (had I not already donated).
To recap: Tobuscus Adventures: Wizards draws its success from the charm and hilarity of Turner’s Tobuscus. The cinematics not only provided endless amusement, but were very well executed (you can watch them all on YouTube on Tobuscus’ channel). Outside of the few technical issues, Wizards offers players and fans of Tobuscus alike an opportunity to live inside the world of a strangely apocalyptic setting. Tobuscus Adventures: Wizards knows exactly what it is, and for that, I am grateful.