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Video Game / Magic Pengel

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Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color is a 2002 RPG for the PlayStation 2, released by Taito. The predecessor to another PS2 game called Graffiti Kingdom,note  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 the Spirit of Creation 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 Spirit 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: The driving force behind the game is people's ability to draw Doodles, which come to life.
  • Asshole Victim: Kiba has Mono kill the Marshal, but given he was an arrogant and cruel lapdog for an evil kingdom, no tears are shed for him.
  • Attack Reflector: Reflect, the most powerful Block skill, will send a doodle's magic attacks back at it and can only be used by Block-type Doodles.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Colors of the Heart", with bonus points for being in Italian.
  • Badass Longcoat: Mono wears a long, flowing coat. This conveniently hides his true nature as a Doodle.
  • Barrier Warrior: With all doodles, blocking actions double as an attack, even if nothing is blocked, manifesting in different ways depending on the doodle's position in the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors. Attack-type doodles' barriers, just called "Barrier", will fold into a dart and fly at the opponent. Magic-type doodles' barriers, called "MP Barrier", will split into small shards which fly at the opponent. Block-type doodles, however, have Reflect. Not only does it do Exactly What It Says on the Tin when hit with a Magic attack, when not reflecting anything, the barrier attacks by either rising into the air and crashing down onto the opponent or rapidly sprouting up as a Ground Wave.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Zoe and Taro are able to save their home and the town is free of the Kingdom's oppression, but Mono sacrifices himself to bring the color back and Zoe and Taro leave to find Galileo.
  • Bonus Boss: Post-game, if you gather 1,000,000 Gold Color Gems, Galileo's doodle book will appear outside the palace gate, which allows the player to face off against Kiba and his expansive list of Doodles, including rematches of the final bosses.
  • 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 removes the blood.
  • 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.
  • But Now I Must Go: Zoe and Taro leave at the end, to go looking for their father.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The red circle you draw at the very beginning comes back to help at the end.
  • Color-Coded Elements: Red and yellow are physical colors. Blue and green are magical colors. Black and white are defensive colors. Drawing Doodles with lots of these colors makes them more likely to be a certain type.
  • Color Motif: The subtitle of the game is "The Quest For Color," after all. Color gives the world life, and a large part of the story revolves around the Kingdom trying to control the ability to create color or take it away.
  • Colorful Song: The ending song, which also happens to be in Italian.
  • Company Cross References: Several of Kiba's Doodles are shout-outs to other Taito works, including Chack'n Pop, G-Darius, RayCrisis, and a shrine maiden from Touhou's creator, ZUN. The last one is especially poignant as Said Doodle's signature attack, Dream Seal, would, about five months later, appear in Touhou Koumakyou ~ the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil under the name Spirit Sign "Fantasy Seal" as one of the signature moves of the main protagonist, Reimu, making it an Early-Bird Cameo for an attack of all things.
  • Creation Myth: The story starts with an explanation of how the Spirit of Creation made colors, mankind, and Doodles, and how the Kingdom began to first enslave Doodles and then the people that made them.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: In a fit of Kiba-controlled rage, Mono wipes all the color from the world.
  • Developer's Foresight: 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.
  • The Empire: The Kingdom is very corrupt and imposes a heavy tax on anything Doodle-related in an attempt to control the populace who can create Doodles.
  • Evil Mentor: Kiba is nowhere near as nice as he seems to be.
  • Featureless Protagonist: To the point that you don't even have a body; the player's view is the camera.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mono lets himself die to return color to the world.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Presumably by mistake, the vegetable shop has a sign saying "Flesh", the fish shop has a sign saying "Flesh Seafood", and the bakery is called "Fluffy bakely".
  • Karma Houdini: Kiba seemingly gets off scot-free for shooting Zoe, controlling Mono, and erasing the world's colors. Though it is hard to say for sure, in the story he just vanishes after Mono attacks. The post-game events meanwhile are ambiguously canon and similarly vague.
  • 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.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: To get from anywhere to anywhere you have to sit through loading screens that can be up to a full minute long, during which nothing happens. And you have to travel around constantly in this game; if you aren't watching cutscenes, drawing Doodles or fighting, you're walking around or waiting for the game to load so you can walk around.
  • Meaningful Name: Mono can make things monochrome. It could also be derived from Monarch, referring to his true identity as the Doodle King.
  • 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 is a quiet, mysterious boy with untold powers, including the ability to heal people. This is because he's not actually human; he's the true Doodle King.
  • Not Just a Tournament: The yearly tournaments are held to weed out those with the most Doodle-creating potential, who are then taken and used by the Kingdom to create a new Doodle King that will let them control the world's colors.
  • 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 after you beat the game, including some rather challenging ones.
  • The Rival: Denka, as well as his trio of toadies. He isn't actually a bad guy, just abrasive.
  • Saving the Orphanage: The main character is pressed into tournaments to save Zoe and Taro's home, which is in danger of foreclosure from the Kingdom.
  • Status Effects: Every magic ability has at least one, and they come in many flavors. In addition to stat buffs and reducers, there are 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 Monster: 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, particularly in the Japanese version.
  • The Unfought: You never do get to square off against Kiba in the story. But that's because he's too smart to solve problems through Doodles. Subverted in the post-game where you take on his big powerful team of 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kiba intends to use Mono to destroy the corrupt kingdom that rules over the town and prevent doodles from being abused. He is also visibly dismayed whenever he does something bad.
  • A Winner Is You: Your reward for defeating Kiba's insanely difficult boss rush is... A page in the encyclopedia congratulating you. You don’t even get a real cutscene afterwards.