When I said that I would write an article about KingsIsle's entry into the MMO market, Wizard101, I was somewhat reluctant. After all, the screens that I'd seen were so cartoonish and glaringly bright. In addition, Wizard101 had been designed as a "tweens" game, targeting the 10-13 crowd. Let's just say I'm several deca... *coughs*, I mean years beyond that mark. But being the trooper that I am, I waited for the beta to wind up and for the game to officially launch so that I could quickly run through the free areas, write my article and move on. It sounded like the right plan. But one has to wonder why I am still playing Wizard101 over two weeks later? Why is my husband playing Wizard101? Why is our 6 year old daughter playing? Good questions. I hope I can answer them and give the game the justice it is due.
I will begin by saying that Wizard101 isn't for everyone. If you're utterly out of touch with your inner child or if you don't have a kid around the house to force you to be in touch with it, then W101 won't have much appeal for you. Similarly, W101 isn't dark or moody or filled with blood and guts. If that's your bailiwick, again Wizard101 isn't for you.
What Wizard101 aspires to be and for my money reaches, is an engaging game filled with lots to do, lots to see and fabulous, and I literally mean just that, spell effects, the likes of which I can guarantee you have never seen before. It is not Harry in cartoon garb. Just entering the game erases that comparison immediately. Whereas the Potter games and movies have dark, twisted sides, there are none of those in evidence, at least not to the same degree, in Wizard101. While Wizard101 has some of the quirky humor that the earlier Potter novels have, there is quite simply no other fair comparison between the two.
Wizard101 allows characters, or wizards, to develop along a wide variety of paths. There are six schools of magic: Life, Myth, Death, Fire, Storm and Ice. Players will get skill upgrades in their chosen school for free but spells from other schools can be purchased with what amount to 'level up points'. This allows for a high level of character customization and is helpful in battles with critters of varying resistances.