|a game by||Bits Studios|
|Editor Rating:||9/10, based on 2 reviews|
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Dust off your link cables. Developer BITS is readying Warlocked, the GBC's first real-time strategy game, which Nintendo will publish by the end of 2000. This thing borrows heavily from Warcraft II. You pick either the human or monster race and play a dozen single-player missions with each, or you can link up and battle a pal. You're assigned random wizard types, such as one who turns enemies to gold. Trade these wizards with others or engage in instant statistical battles through the IR port.
If Warlocked had come out on any console other than the GBC, we'd brand it the most blatant WarCraft copycat ever. But as a portable take on the classic real-time-strategy formula, this game is a fresh and addictive experience. Sure, it ain't perfect. You must baby-step your men across terrain, since they have a habit of wandering off and getting lost. The IR-Port-supporting battle mode is dull. The one-player game is a bit easy, too. Good thing it gives you plenty to do. You play as either humans or monsters, and each race gives you 13 levels. One mission has you destroying a giant spider. Another has you guiding two captured humans out of a dank dungeon. Level variety is one of Warlocked's strongest features. The game is also surprisingly easy to control. You can order soldiers to guard structures, or select more than a dozen troops at a time and assign them to a team. And while you don't get a wide variety of troop or building types, you do get the wizards, which add even more strategy to the mix. The Bombwiz makes enemies explode and hurt other baddies, Sweatwiz forces your grunts to gather resources faster, and so on. And you can only bring two wizards onto the battlefield at a time, so you better plan things out. Link up with a pal who's played his version for a while--and thus amassed a decent collection of wizards--and you're in for one of the most enjoyable two-player experiences on the Game Boy.
Warlocked packs more missions, modes and multiplayer options than 90 percent of the crud you'll find on the Game Boy. The horrid terrain-tracking skills of your men (they split up and get lost too easily) gets annoying sometimes. Fortunately, you can find ways around it by breaking your soldiers into smaller groups. The two-player army-battle mode you play with the infrared port is a clever idea, but I prefer the two-player link-cable game. You get several different modes (one, for example, has you racing to build farms), just make sure you play against opponents with a good stock of wizards, or you'll wipe them out too easily.
Who knew they could make a game like this on the Game Boy Color. But I'm torn. On the one hand, Warlocked is a reat-time strategy title that's as polished (relatively speaking) and addictive as games in the same genre on the PC. On the other hand, It's simple overall, and the characters often get stuck on objects in the playing field. But I imagine this is about the best you can do with a game of this sort on Nintendo's little handheld. So, in that respect, it's quite amazing. It certainly has some neat features, like the infra-red fighting mode, link cable versus play and the ability to trade cartridge-specific wizards with friends.