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Magic Sword - Coin-Op Arcade Game - Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Magic Sword - Coin-Op Arcade Game - Review
Photo by D.S. Cohen
A hard to find classic, Magic Sword marks one of the early side-scrolling multiplayer hack ‘n slash fantasy adventures, complete with Capcom’s trademark Street Fighter II style character design. If you can find this all-out-action gem you’d better bet it’s worth feeding quarters in all the way up to the end.

The Basics

  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Release Date: 1990
  • Type: Coin-op upright arcade game
  • Genre: Hack ‘n slash

The Good

  • A two-player co-op mode that’s not available in the console version.
  • Amazing character and level design that enhances the action.
  • Multiple NPC characters each with special magic and fighting skills.

The Bad

  • It's disappointing that you can't play any of the seven NPC warriors, and in single player mode you can only play the barbarian.
  • Single player controls are not conducive to us left handed players.
  • The processer gets overloaded if too much is happening on screen, causing the images to flicker.


  • Two sets of controls for co-op gameplay.
  • Multiple weapon, magic and health pick-ups.
  • Multiple paths and hidden doors to skip levels.
  • Two alternate endings.


The early 90s marked the decline of the coin-op arcade games as the home console market began delivering near arcade perfect action to home systems. Many arcades began closing their doors and family entertainment centers traded in the video games for the traditional fairground fodder such as whac-a-mole, skee-ball and air hockey. The only games to withstand this exodus were the multiplayer, multilevel, fighting and hack ‘n slash games. Capcom, the king of these styles, delivered loads of arcade joy with Street Fighter II, Ghosts ‘n Goblins and of course, Magic Sword.

Co-designed by seasoned pro Yoshiki Okamoto, who designed most of Capcom’s greatest hits from the 80s through the late 90s, Magic Sword was overshadowed at the arcade by the fighting games of the times, and was never popular on home systems due to poorly made console ports. However, those of us who experienced the original coin-op classic will always remember it fondly for delivering fast paced, fantasy action with little frustration.

The Game

In a Lord of the Rings inspired adventure, two warriors journey to the top of Castle Dragon Tower and face the evil Drokmar who has reawakened the Black Orb and brought darkness to the land. The only way to save the world is to destroy Dorkmar and the artifact.

The main gameplay consists of slashing through orcs, skeleton warriors, flying wasp men, totems and bears (yes, bears), battling weird mini-bosses like the two headed dragon/lion creature and collecting treasures, coins and keys, until you reach the big boss battles. Most bosses are evil magicians who transform into giant flying beasties that explode in a rain of coins once defeated.

Power-ups allow you to access special powers, while collecting keys is important because they will unlock doorways to the next level, and allow you to free captive warriors that will help you on your journey, giving you the choice to replace your current NPC. Be careful though: Some of these prisons cells you'll find hold evil warriors braced for sneak attacks.

You and your fellow warriors each possess special powers that upgrade as you level up your character. These skills aren’t something you necessarily manage, they just come as you collect power-ups and reach higher levels. As a warrior your skills and weapons increase in power and damage capabilities.

The adventure leads to a climax featuring two alternate endings. Will you take the path of good and become the hero of the land, or the path of evil and use the power of the Black Orb for yourself?

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