Wizard 101 is a 3D MMORPG game that has grown exponentially in terms of its popularity. Released in September 2008, this free-to-play game has managed to amass 20 million players as of July 2011 according to Wikipedia. This figure is expected to rise thanks to its obvious inspirations to the Harry Potter franchise. The latest Harry Potter film F95ZONE has earned over $1.3 billion dollars at the box office. Since Harry Potter doesn’t have a MMORPG game of its own, Wizard 101’s fan base is expected to rise for many years to come.
When you first play the game, you are given the freedom to name your soon-to-be wizard. The game gives you many humorous and outlandish names for you to choose from. Some of the name combinations you are able to choose include “Star Stalker” or “Spirit Sword”.
The game starts off humbly no less as you are an aspiring young wizard who wants to learn how to use magic. Headmaster Ambrose is your tutor and will teach you the basics of Wizard 101. When you first start playing the game, the references to the Harry Potter franchise is obvious from the get go. Ambrose even has a talking owl friend. This is a blatant reference to Harry Potter’s owl named Hedwig.
When you enrol in Wizard 101, danger lurks to threaten the establishment. Ambrose’s main adversary called Malistare appears to attack you and Ambrose directly. From here, Ambrose takes you into a tutorial on how combat is handled in Wizard 101. Although enemies appear in real-time on the game map, fighting is done via old-school turn-based RPG combat.
A magical circle appears in the middle of the floor which acts as your duelling platform. As everyone in the game has access to magic, you can draw out cards to summon the type of attack you want to cast onto your enemies. It plays a little like a match seen in Pokemon. You can summon creatures of all forms to attack enemies. At the start of the game, some of the animals that you can summon include a fiery tiger or even a thunderous snake just to name a few. In terms of magic that aids you in battle, a beautiful unicorn comes up to heal you can restore both your hit and magic points.
Once you are finally able to defeat Malistare’s minions, he runs off threatening that he will be back. Ambrose knows he’s planning something and it is up to you to find out. Before you are able to do all of that, you are taken around the campus to learn more about what young wizards can do in Wizard 101. It’s like you are at back school on the first day!
Once you are taken around the campus, you realise how much effort has been put into Wizard 101. It’s hard to believe that this game is actually a free-to-play title. This game has all the elements for a high quality video game. There are actual voices for almost every character you talk to, a great soundtrack and sound effects that even some Hollywood movies will envy. Although this game has nothing to do with Harry Potter, the game’s production values rival those of EA’s actual Harry Potter games released out in retail.
Being that Wizard 101 appeals to a younger audience, the gaming community and the overall atmosphere of the game is nice and friendly. Players are rarely rude to one another and there are several chat options that you can use to communicate with other players. Not only that, but players can join in on any battle and help you out anytime you are wandering off defeating bad guys.
To keep players being happy about their Wizard 101 experience, players are unable to fight other players on the actual Wizard 101 game map. The only time you can fight other players is in a specific place called the Arena. I admire this feature a lot as the last time I played a MMO RPG game, I wanted to complete a quest but some other player kept bugging to challenge him to a fight. Don’t expect any annoying players challenging here in Wizard 101 unless you visit the Arena.