Games | NES | The Magic of Scheherazade

Article by Wesley Fenlon? | Nov. 29, 2010

The Magic of

Developer: Culture Brain
Publisher: Culture Brain
U.S. Release: 1990
Format: NES

The NES era was a time of new ideas and new technology merging, resulting in magical videogame experiences. The Zeldas, Marios, and Final Fantasies of this Quarterly defined their respective genres and remain thriving franchises to this day.

The Magic of Scheherazade didn’t have that kind of magic. It never launched a genre or birthed a decade-spanning franchise. Instead, it mashed up Zelda’s overworld and dungeons with Dragon Warrior’s turn-based battles, then tossed a bunch of other ideas into the blender and set it for Arabian frappe.

You star as the descendant of a legendary hero, tasked with saving Princess Scheherazade from the evil wizard Sabaron. It’s basically the classic Arabian Nights tale, only with less Jaffar and a whole lot more time travel (and a robot, for good measure). There’s quite a bit of Zelda-style exploration to be done, and every so often the game randomly slips into Dragon Warrior mode. Though it’s a logically inexplicable concept, the combination works fairly well, and the turn-based fights give you a chance to employ your colorful cast of extremely weird NPCs.

Scheherazade actually offers a remarkable hodgepodge of nifty concepts—some shops will give big discounts on items, hidden Magic Universities offer combat tips and upgrades, and a solar eclipse adds a whole extra wrinkle to the gameplay. The game tries to do too much, and ends up being a bit unfocused. But if you’re going to fail, fail with ambition.

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