One thing I have to say about gaming is that I love finding little....well, 'gems,' if you will. Games that no one would give a second glance that turn out to be incredibly enjoyable, and, if you're lucky, it'll become a 'sleeper hit' (which are about 80% of game titles I play...;___;).
The game in question would be Magical Starsign for the Nintendo DS. I was still working at EB when it came out, and quickly faded away, never to be spoken of again.
(Sorry if this stupid thing got published...Flash shortcuts are now embedded into my brain.)
Anyways, as I was saying, Magical Starsign came out in...oh, about January 2007.
The story revolves around a group of students at the 'Will-o-Wisp Academy of Magic' on the planet Kovomaka. Now, on a funny design note, all the planets that you visit (yes, you visit planets on a spaceship ^_^ ) all look like giant, themed, floating islands in space. *_*
My first impression playing this game was Harry Potter meets the Winx Club meets crazy space travel. You choose your main character (m/f; I of course, choose the girl), then you have your crazy, themed, elemental group of friends and fellow classmates:
Lassi: A wind magic user. She's a frumpy little, long-eared bunny girl. Kinda flakey, but really a sweet girl.
Mokka: An earth magic-using robot. *_* Mokka is, of course, the cold, calculating, sensible one.
Chai: An anthropomorphic, forest-magic-using salamander. Chai's a nice kid, bringing the 'organic' side to Mokka's more dispassionate nature.
Pico: A hot-headed, redhead fire magic weilder (who didn't see that coming?). Pico is your stereotypical adolesant male. He also likes Sorbet, but he's still in the 'girls are kinda gross stage' of his life. :3 So cute.
Sorbet: A water magic user, and the last friend you wrangle up. She's a nice girl, although a little dramatic for my taste.
At first, I complained that there was no chance for you to get to know the characters seperatly; you all start out in school. Then I found other things to complain about - the controls, the beginning story, etc.
But, I continued playing. Everyone gets seperated, so you get a lot more one-on-one time with the different characters, getting to know them.
The plot, although light-hearted, is actually a lot more mature than I thought. Through the kiddy facade lies an intricate plot, with a surprising amount of death and emotional anguish. The game also constantly pokes fun at itself, which is always something to appreciate.
Once I got past the controls and what-not, I took a look at the battle system. It's turn-based, which I like a lot more than real-time, but with the different planets going into their 'power zones', AND the constant day-night cycle (you have light magic), either you or your opponents get stronger.
All in all, I'm 17 hours in, and I'm having a blast. Considering I picked it up used for $14.99, this was one helluva buy. I highly recommend it. :D