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Lost Magic

The best thing about the Nintendo DS is the fact that it lets developers stretch their imaginations. Case in point: Lost Magic, an action-RPG/strategy hybrid that would never have happened on any other system. It's not that Lost Magic is stunningly original; in fact, it's a blend of ideas cribbed from elsewhere. The fact that it has all come together, works and is about to come out is the cool and truly unexpected thing.

Remember Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow's Magic Seals, which forced you to trace symbols to put an end to the game's bosses? Lost Magic does this one better, and has you drawing magical symbols constantly - you'll use your stylus to trace out mystic runes, which represent spells. Do that, and you can send a fireball rocketing across the screen at your enemies, or heal yourself.

Rather than one big world to explore, the realm represented in Lost Magic is broken up into discrete chunks. Each playfield is full of monsters. If you get close, or attack them, they'll get feisty and come for you. Fortunately, a spell is as simple as a flick of the wrist. When you hold down the L button, a spell template pops up which lets you draw one of the symbols you know. Let go of L, and the real world comes back - and you can fire the spell at your foe. The only trick here is that the enemies keep attacking while you scribble, so it requires a deft hand to keep from getting slaughtered.

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