Wizards don't get much love in video games when it comes to durability. They're almost always depicted as limp, fragile things who will crumble under the slightest bit of pressure. The nameless protagonist of Fancy Wizard ain't no exception to this rule, sadly - so why burden him with a host of other problems? Doesn't he have it rough enough already?
Fancy Wizard (what a weird name that is) tells the mute tale of a wizard in red, who, out in the countryside, wants to get home. Or somewhere else. It's not really specified. Point is, he's going somewhere, and other people don't appreciate that none.
His solution? Use his magic to circumvent danger. This particular wizard, less destructive than his kin, can create puppets that will move according to his own movements. He can then send those puppets into danger, or to hit switches, that will allow him to proceed through a variety of puzzling levels. Get through 'em all and, I dunno, he lives to fight another day. Make sense? I should think so.
Fancy Wizard is a combination of mouse movement and arrow keys. The keys move your wizard and any conjured dolls, and the mouse allows you to create dolls within the wizard's aura, as well as freeze any dolls (or the wizard himself) in place to prevent movement. Sounds good.
... but it's not. Not always, anyway. Fancy Wizard's controls are very loose: your characters slide whenever they move, as though the greenery is actually cleverly-disguised ice. This is a PAIN IN THE ASS for the game's copious platforming sections, particularly when you need to jump the wizard on top of one of his creations. Can't everybody just stay put?
I like the background in Fancy Wizard. The idea of a dancing castle appeals to me on some bizarre level that I dare not question. The rest, though... it's so... uninspired. Everything looks the same from one level to the next, and the characters are the ultimate in generic. No personality = completely unmemorable.
Tedious, semi-jaunty song, from one end of the game to the other. And a few bland sound effects. I give it a big shrug.
"Ahh, but is it difficult?" you say. "Aesthetics are secondary when the puzzles are awesome." Well, sadly, they ain't. In addition to the rest of the problems, Fancy Wizard is also quite easy. One clever stumper near the end aside, the solutions to the puzzles are all fairly obvious from the get-go - it's just a matter of wrangling your characters into executing the solution. The ability to freeze your characters, including the wizard, is too powerful.
What really annoyed me about Fancy Wizard was the tutorial. The game is only eighteen levels long, yet the tutorial lasted for six. That leaves only twelve stages of legitimate, unguided puzzles to complete. Why not compress the tutorial into two or three stages? Why drag it out so much? The game takes, like, ten minutes to beat, which shouldn't be the case for a strong puzzler. Thumbs down.
Fancy Wizard fails to impress. The idea of a self-replicating wizard isn't bad, but the execution of that idea falls short of expectations. Tighten up the controls, polish the graphics, make some trickier puzzles. Otherwise, this wizard ain't ever gonna be fancy.
One other thing: that name is terrible.
PLAY FANCY WIZARD