Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color
is a 2003 RPG for the PlayStation 2
, released by Taito
. The prequel (of sorts
) to another PS2
game called Graffiti Kingdom,
it is a unique Mons
game with a very unusual central premise: You, the player, get to design your own
monsters (here called Doodles) and fight with them.
At the dawn of time, there were no colors. Then two gods came, and created the four basic colors: Red, yellow, blue, and green. From this, all other colors were born, and the world blossomed with life-forms known as Doodles. Humans were given the power to create Doodles in order to help them. But an evil king tried to use Doodles for his own gains, so the gods revoked the power of making Doodles. Only those who were pure of heart would be granted the ability to create Doodles, using the powers of special magical creatures called Pengels.
The story proper begins with a Featureless Protagonist
falling in with a pair of siblings named Zoe and Taro. The two live in a ramshackle shack near the sea, and the Kingdom is threatening to take away their land. But then they notice that the player character possesses the ability to make Doodles. So they decide to partner with them in order to participate in the Kingdom's great Doodle Championships, where Doodles battle one another to win valuable Color Gems. They'll win lots of color gems, and they'll save their home, correct?
Unfortunately, it isn't so simple. The kingdom places a mighty tax on color gems, and earning money isn't easy. The current champion, Kiba, has just rolled into town, and he seems to have a history with Zoe and Taro's father, Galileo. And if that wasn't complicated enough, Zoe and Taro stumble across a mysterious boy named Mono, who seems to have known their father—better, in fact, than Zoe and Taro seem to. Who is Mono? What happened to Galileo? And what is really
going on in the Kingdom?
In addition to its unique concept, the game is notable for having character designs—and a few animated sequences—by a little Japanese animation house called Studio Ghibli
. You may have heard of them.
This game contains examples of:
- Art Initiates Life
- Badass Longcoat: Mono wears a long, flowing coat. This conveniently hides his true nature as a Doodle.
- But Now I Must Go: Zoe and Taro leave at the end, to go looking for their father.
- Boss Rush: There's one leading up to the final boss.
- Bowdlerize: The cutscene leading up to the final boss has blood in it in the Japanese version. The international version has no such thing.
- Broke The Rating Scale: Magic skills are rated in terms of their effectiveness, from 1 to 4. The final bosses have spells rated up to five.
- Color-Coded Elements: Red and yellow are physical colors. Blue and green are magical colors. Black and white are defensive colors.
- Color Motif: The subtitle of the game is "The Quest For Color," after all.
- Colorful Song: The ending song, which also happens to be in Italian.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Kiba. When Zoe and Taro appear, threatening his plans to use Mono to obliterate the bad guys, he quits screwing around with Doodles. Instead, he just pulls out a gun and shoots Zoe.
- Deliberately Monochrome: In a fit of Kiba-controlled rage, Mono wipes all the color from the world.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The Doodle-drawing system is pretty good at figuring out how to make Doodles "work," no matter how you draw them. It also offers unique skills and stat advantages depending on how you draw them, some of which can be quite hard to find.
- Disappeared Dad: Zoe and Taro's dad, Galileo. Many people believe him to be dead. Zoe refuses to think this.
- Drama Bomb Finale: Everything leading up to the Kingdom finals is either happy, or, at the very least, sad in the way one would expect from a kid-friendly JRPG. Once the finals hit, however, the game becomes extremely dark, especially considering its target audience.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: But it ends happily, if not bittersweetly.
- Evil Mentor
- Heroic Sacrifice: Mono lets himself die to return color to the world.
- King Incognito: Mono is really the Doodle King.
- Knight Templar: Kiba's intentions—to keep humans from misusing Doodles—is a good one. His methods, however, are questionable at best.
- Meaningful Name: Mono— he can make things monochrome.
- Money for Nothing: Aside from a few pen shapes, the only thing to buy with your money is Doodles. You can go through most of the game without getting or using any money at all!
- Mons Uniquely, the mons are all of your design! The game does furnish you with presets if you so wish, however.
- Mysterious Waif: Mono.
- Names to Know in Anime: Studio Ghibli worked on the character designs, and even provided a fully-animated ending cutscene.
- One-Winged Angel: Like all good final bosses, the Doodle King has two forms. Luckily, you get a power-up between forms.
- Playable Epilogue: New challenges open up for you to fight, including some rather challenging ones.
- The Rival: Denka, as well as his trio of toadies. He isn't actually a bad guy, just very... abrasive.
- Standard Status Effects: Every magic ability has at least one, and they come in many flavors. In addition to stat buffs and reducers, there's two kinds of poison (one for HP, and one for MP), several different kinds of confusion, sleep, fainting (paralysis), shrinking, flattening, and many others.
- Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Attack beats Block, Block beats Magic, and Magic beats Attack. Charge is neutral.
- Take My Hand: Despite almost bleeding to death from her bullet wound, Zoe catches Mono and refuses to let him fall. But he lets go anyway, to return color to the world.
- To Be a Master: But there's a purpose behind it—you're also saving Taro and Zoe's home.
- Tortured Abomination: The Boss Rush leading up to the final boss is a gauntlet of false "kings," all created to be the Doodle King yet failed in some way. They're clearly not happy with their lot in life.
- The Unfought: You never do get to square off against Kiba. But that's because too smart to solve problems through Doodles.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment: The Boss Rush near the end of the game contains several unusable Doodles. In addition to being too large and having HP and MP too high, they have several unique (and deadly) skills at their disposal.
- The "Transparency" part palette, which only a few of the final bosses get to use.
- Useless Useful Spell: Averted. All of the magic spells have at least one alternative effect, and knowing how to make use of these is critical.