Playing Magical Starsign is like taking a portal back to 1995. Much of the game feels like it came straight from the late SNES period - an era where RPGs in English were as rare and treasured as diamonds, and even mediocre titles got far more attention from fans than they rightfully deserved. By the standards of that time, Magical Starsign would have been a very good RPG - it's got vibrant, colorful sprite graphics, cute characters, a wealth of varied environments to travel to and explore, and a superb localization that's full of humor and life.
But this is 2006, and the landscape has changed considerably. The market is flooded with RPGs, each one trying to stand out from the pack in its own way. A run-of-the-mill fantasy adventure just isn't going to cut it anymore when players have a wealth of settings, stories, and battle mechanics to choose from.
Unfortunately, much of Magical Starsign is as old and stereotypical as the genre gets. The story is the usual "plucky teenagers (and anthropomorphic characters) save the world" bit we've heard countless times before. The battle system is as slow-paced and basic as they come, offering very little in the way of strategy. The game progression is extremely linear, chock-full of annoying fetch quests and amazing plot-advancing coincidences. And so on.
The game certainly tries to convince you that it's got fresh and innovative qualities, but it's all painfully transparent. You can control the entire game using only the stylus, though that's not too uncommon for a DS game. Tapping your stylus on your characters at exactly the right time boosts magic and defensive abilities, which we've seen before in Nintendo's own Mario and Luigi games (there, you use the buttons).
Combat is affected by the celestial alignment of the planets in the solar system - characters and spells become more or less powerful as the heavenly bodies move into positions in orbit. It's supposed to be strategic, but it really only serves to add an annoying element of randomness to battle.
Magical Starsign is a throwback to the bygone days of the RPG genre - whether that's a good or a bad thing depends on your tastes. But even players who aren't retro-fans will be hard-pressed to consider Magical Starsign a truly bad game. As far as portable RPGs go, you can certainly do a lot worse than this. Then again, you can also do a lot better.