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News & Features Discussion  » Wizard 101: Wizard 101 Review

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Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

OP  11/20/08 10:17:14 AM#1's Carolyn Koh spent some time recently in the world of Wizard 101 and writes this review for our reading pleasure.

Wizard 101 is a children’s MMO created by Kingsisle Entertainment but one of the most engaging MMOs I have yet to come across. Playing a young wizard, you are going to school and having adventures in Wizard City and its surrounds. Harry Potter anyone? If you’ve ever wished to be a young wizard wielding a wand, going to school for Conjuration or Transformation, learning from the different schools and engaging in spell duels, you might find this game intriguing.

Ravenwood School

You, young wizard, are discovered by the Headmaster of Ravenwood Academy, Merle Ambrose and drawn into the world of Wizard City. Character customization is simple with a voice-over of Merle Ambrose walking the new player through it. There are limited choices between faces and hairstyles, colors and the starting outfit; the hat, robe, shoes and the color of the trim. Then you are asked a series of questions Ultima style and sorted into the right school of Magic for your personality. There are seven schools of magic to choose from, and these are Fire, Ice, Storm, Life, Myth, Balance, and Death. You can also by-pass the question and answer session by simply choosing your school.

Wizard 101 Screen

Read the Wizard 101 Review.

Jon Wood
Managing Editor


Novice Member

Joined: 10/24/06
Posts: 99

11/20/08 11:34:25 AM#2

Nice and accurate review. I tried this out in beta as a slight diversion, and found myself playing more than I thought I would as well. In fact, I almost decided that I would subscribe when it came out and started finding and submitting all the bugs I could find to make it a subscribe-worthy game. In the end, I decided it wasn't quite the game for me, but as a kid-friendly game, it's surprisingly good.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/20/06
Posts: 2928

11/20/08 11:44:16 AM#3

It really is an amazing game. Though it may be geared towards children, I found it immersive and addictive. I love the combat system.

  User Deleted
11/20/08 2:08:43 PM#4

There are many lessions to be learned from this by "AAA" title MMO makers. I am looking at you SOE, mythic, funcom, and blizzard.


Elite Member

Joined: 8/27/04
Posts: 8297

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

11/20/08 3:18:54 PM#5

I have to offer my two cents,just because i tried the game as i try just about every game that comes out.

The review was pretty much 99% accurate so i guess i can't add too much more.

The game and it's design was done quite well especially for the age group it was dedicated to.I would say it maybe the best game out here for a parent to join there kids in a game.It is not difficult to learn but offers a little diversity in how you build your decks.

Personally i think that as good as the game is ,it could easily be better with a little bit of work.I realize these guys are busy trying to get the next city/world design up and running for the players but there is still a lot that could be done with the existing game.

I offered SEVERAL suggestions as to witch a few were liked but of course many people found some excuse to not like my idea.I looked at every angle and aspect before offering my ideas so,even after i heard the arguements ,i don't buy them.

Just one area and my fave of course is COMBAT.Although the age group is on the lower end,you would be surprised at how smart some young people are,i have often found some young kids to be a lot brighter than some older people.In realizing this ,i think they could make the game a little more challenging or even offer areas of difficulty as they sort of tried to do with there instances that really don't resemble instances.

The quests also need to be a lot more appealing ,i think even the young kids get bored of them and just spending hours running around for nothing ,looking for someone or something.

However on a whole and as the game stands it does show some decent effort and should be reconized as a very good kids game.
Samoan Diamond


Novice Member

Joined: 6/23/03
Posts: 957

Pain is fear leaving the body..

11/21/08 8:16:46 AM#6

I played Beta and I might fire it up again. The ease and causal gameplay is attractive.  Sometimes I remember rolling my eyes when I get "caught" into a battlefield when i thought I was far away from anything, but other than that, it does what it should do.  Entertains


On some level we should compare this to Atlantica Online


Novice Member

Joined: 9/28/03
Posts: 2695

"It''s OK... I''m a leaf on the wind! Watch how I soar!"

11/21/08 8:21:59 AM#7

I'm also one of the many who was trying this game out, to see if it'd be a good fit for my kids' first MMO, and got completely sucked in. In fact I've barely gotten around to showing it to them yet. Great game all around, and I agree with the above poster, definitely some lessons to be learned here.

Richard J. Cox
"There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust."


Novice Member

Joined: 12/18/06
Posts: 11

11/21/08 10:05:55 AM#8

I have to fully agreed with wizardy. At first, i thought wizard101 is for kids, educational typed of games.

After i tried, i found out that this game is cute with nice graphics and very addictive for players to play especially when the wizards are in combat. AWESOME

Should give it a try.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/01/07
Posts: 1813

11/21/08 11:53:47 AM#9

 I agree with the review.  Wizard101 is a great, fun game for kids.  It's a solid product and KingsIsle has done quite a bit since it launched, especially with their revenue model and holiday event, to assure people that it's a serious contender.  That being said, Wizard101's sucess and popularity with older/more mature gamers probably surprised even Wizard101, since they weren't the target audience.  Per KingsIsle CEO Elie Akilian, in a pre-beta press release:

"We more than doubled our anticipated beta audience for Wizard101"

"It turns out that the solid game mechanics and whimsical fantasy environment appeal even beyond the tween audience. We've had a great response from testers that included everyone from grandmas who play with a grandchild sitting in their lap to twenty-something traditional gamers."

The game has been out a while, is stable and the revenue model has likely been finalized.  This is a great time for KingsIsle to consider updating the game to not only attract and retain older, more experienced gamers (especially with FreeRealms looming on the horizon).  I think they could do this with a few changes:

  • Chat - Older gamers can become frustrated with the enfornced constraints of the kid-friendly chat system.  As of now, gamers under 13 and free gamers are limited to emote-based chat.  Only paid players over 13 can use the "free text" chat (or paid players under 13 whose parents expclitly enable free text chat), although this still limits the chat based on an approved dictionary.   Players limited to emote-based chat, either due to age or subscription status, cannot even see free text chat by those who are allowed to use it.  All they see are ellipses (...).  Why not add in a third layer of chat for paid subscribers >= 18 years of age?  This third layer could be truly free, non-dictionary based (except for obvious words that should be censored, just like they are in adult MMOs).  The mechanics of the chat system would still be the same in that <13 and non-paid subscribers would still see ellipses instead of the chat, thereby mitigating  the possibility of children seeing chat that may not be appropriate.  Paid subscribers between 13 and 17 would only see the text they're allowed to see, based on their level of chat, unless the most open level of chat is explicitly enabled by their parental unit.  This approach still keeps kids safe, but will reduce frustrations more mature gamers have with the existing chat system.
  • Trade - at this time, players can only trade treasure cards, not items.  Introduce item trading for paid players >= 18 years old (unless explicitly allowed by an adult, in which case it'd be 13+ - NEVER under 13, UNLESS IN THE SAME FAMILY ACCOUNT). This introduces a famiilar MMO mechanic, but still keeps kids safe from being scammed, bamboozled, tricked, etc....
  • Groups - the concept of groups don't really exist within Wizard101. Grouping is really done on an encounter-by-encounter basis. Any player can simply join a battle already in progress (except for a few specific challenge battles) by entering the battle circle (either by teleporting to a friend in an instance or just running up on a public street). This is a great approach to both solo and casual play, but it has limitations. When I want to play with my son and daughters, we basically all have to follow each other around and jump in on each other's battles. Additionally, since there aren't any real groups, there isn't an explicit group chat channel. I'd love to see groups and group chat implemented. Group creation could be limited to those paid players >= 18 (unless explicitly allowed by an adult, in which case it'd be 13+ - NEVER under 13, UNLESS IN THE SAME FAMILY ACCOUNT)
  • Guilds - there aren't any guilds at this time.  As a parent, I'd absolutely be leery of letting my 9 year old son join a guild in a MMO, even in a kids game.  That being said, I think it's a critical component for more mature gamers.  As such, why not add in guilds for paid players >= 18 (unless explicitly allowed by an adult, in which case it'd be 13+ - NEVER under 13, UNLESS IN THE SAME FAMILY ACCOUNT).

All of the above features would help to attract and retain an older, more MMO-experienced audience and could be implemented in a manner that would still keep the younger players safe. Other than those, some more granular controls could be implemented, like the abilty to "lock down" your encounters.  It can be very frustating, especially for younger players, to be in a stressful fight (because you're low on hp/mana, running out of cards, just trying to finish a quest or whatever....) when somebody jumps in and brings another monster with them (and everybody who jumps in brings a monster with them, so 3 players jumping in can turn your encounter from a 1-on-1 to a 4-on-4).  An option to lock down your battles would be great!


 p.s. Start submitting ratings and maybe some comments in the game's forums!


Community Manager of KingsIsle

Joined: 10/20/08
Posts: 158

11/21/08 2:38:10 PM#10

Hello young Wizards!

I'm Lydia Greyrose, the Professor of Ice Magic at Ravenwood School of Magical Arts.

I'd like to thank you so much for your wonderful review, and all the comments!

I am very happy you're enjoying Wizard101. I wanted to clarify that we recently opened up our Text Chat to players over 13 years of age, while still maintaining security for our players who are under the age of 13.

We've also just introduced a new tutorial. Merle needs your help defeating Malistaire, and in our new tutorial you get to hear Merle's voice guide you through the first lessons of being a Wizard. You'll see dramatic spells and learn more about what Malistaire is up to! Currently players may want to create an additional Wizard to see what adventures Merle has in store for his newest students.

See you in Wizard City! Remember to send any questions or suggestions to me at

~Professor Lydia Greyrose


Novice Member

Joined: 7/20/06
Posts: 2928

11/22/08 4:06:06 AM#11

What I would love to see, if possible, is new methods of payment. For example, I don't own a credit card and neither does anyone else in our house simply because they have a way of getting you in debt, so I am unable to become a subscriber. Ideally I would love a pay-by-mobile-phone option, as that would be extremely convenient and safe. 


Novice Member

Joined: 6/03/07
Posts: 292

11/24/08 6:17:33 AM#12

This game is relevant to my interests.  I believe I will give this game a shot.  No, I am certain.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/02/06
Posts: 29

11/25/08 8:14:17 AM#13

What I would love to see is a review done by someone at the target age.

Get an early teenager to review this game. I dont say this to be condescending in any way but if the game is meant to target ?9-14? year olds shouldnt they be the ones telling us how it is? :)

Something like that would be very cool indeed.


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/20/07
Posts: 2361

11/25/08 10:46:41 AM#14
Originally posted by Mrbloodworth

There are many lessions to be learned from this by "AAA" title MMO makers. I am looking at you SOE, mythic, funcom, and blizzard.


The big thing i noticed was that KingsIsle had a vision for the game and stuck with it.

It is actually a very 'simple' game - but it works because of it.


KingsIsle / Prof Greyrose, nice to see you here.  How about dropping by the sub forum from time to time to chat?


What is your next project?

Nothing says irony like spelling ideot wrong.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/20/06
Posts: 2928

11/26/08 3:05:03 AM#15
Originally posted by Czarr_Rom

What I would love to see is a review done by someone at the target age.

Get an early teenager to review this game. I dont say this to be condescending in any way but if the game is meant to target ?9-14? year olds shouldnt they be the ones telling us how it is? :)

Something like that would be very cool indeed.

I hope you wouldn't expect said early teenager to actually write a constructive review 


Novice Member

Joined: 5/02/08
Posts: 1984

11/26/08 6:59:49 PM#16

Thanks a lot for the review, never heard about this game before and I certainly will try it out ;)


Novice Member

Joined: 2/01/07
Posts: 1813

11/27/08 4:11:56 PM#17
Originally posted by Czarr_Rom

What I would love to see is a review done by someone at the target age.

Get an early teenager to review this game. I dont say this to be condescending in any way but if the game is meant to target ?9-14? year olds shouldnt they be the ones telling us how it is? :)

Something like that would be very cool indeed.

  • My 9 year old son loves it - he's an addict.  It's all I can do to get him to stop talking about the game, and I'm a gamer!
  • My 12 year old daughter likes it and play some
  • My 18 year old daughter (just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago) likes it and plays quite a bit

On top of that, my 39 year old wife likes it, but doesn't play all that often and I (38 years old) like it a lot and play in bursts between my other games and work/life responsibilities.  My son and I had a game night last night and played together for a few hours - it was great!.  Even more fun with somebody to play with.

I've said this before in other comments - Wizard101 is the only game that has ever appealed to my entire family.  I've played CoX in duos with my oldest daughter for 2 years.  I've played Dungeon Runners with my son and I've played WoW with my wife (very, very casually  for both of us).  But we all play Wizard101!!




Novice Member

Joined: 8/08/03
Posts: 589


11/28/08 10:50:20 AM#18

Admittedly, I haven't played this game since the Beta ended, but I found it to be very interesting and well conceived, and even got my cousins children to play it before it went gold.

It's a good quality product, and makes me wonder what else KingsIsle have up their sleeves. I know for certain that there is another project in development, but just what?


Novice Member

Joined: 6/03/03
Posts: 28

11/28/08 12:43:35 PM#19

This is a combo review from my preteen and me.

After discovering this game via this thread, I decided to head on over and check it out.  I've been playing for the last couple days and have a few comments.  I'm a 43 year old dad who's been playing MMOs since they came online, albeit more casually in the last decade+ due to work, family, etc.  I imagine our family is one of the main demographic targets for W101.

I have an 8 year old son who plays a few different online games such as Fiesta, Toon Town, Eternal Lands, etc.  He'd be on the computer 24 hours a day if we let him.   After my first day of playing, I also created an account for him at W101.   We've been able to play together by loading the game on two computers, even though we're playing from the same IP.

My general impression is W101 is a very good game.   I see a lot of similarities between W101 and Toontown.  If you've ever played TT, you'll be right at home with the play.   There are "safe" sidewalks, battles are the same, quests are similar, and more. 

We like W101 and will probably be subscribing in the near future.  The price is very reasonable.  I like how they have a family pricing option. 

The new tutorial is great.  It really captures the imagination of all players and gives a great feel for gameplay, and of course, sets the plot in motion.

I've never been a huge fan of card based games.  My son on the other hand, loves Pokemon....  need I say anymore.  The card based attack system was intuitive to him. 

One of the highlites of this game are the card attack animations.  They are great and one of the major attractions for my son.  I'd love to see more.

The play areas, especially Ravenwood, is very well done & creative! 

The quest system is solid.  No groundbreaking work here.  It soon turns into a bit of a grind for adults.  Kids find it much less of a grind. 

Something to consider with younger kids is their reading ability.  My son, in third grade, is a pretty good reader.  He can read and understand 95% of the text.  But sometimes he misses a few important details.  The tutorial has audio which really helps.   

Pets are pretty neat but mere window dressing.  They are inexpensive in the game.

I realize I've only been playing for a short while, but it seems to me that there isn't a ot of middle or long term content.  For example, I've not come across a MOB over 2nd level.  But like in ToonTown, MOBs can join in an existing battle, making it harder.  Other players can join in also so it balances out.  The MOB level and player level can't be directly compared; a 2nd level elite MOB can give a 5th level player a difficult time.

I think one of the challenges for a game such as W101 is keeping the game interesting for the long term.   It's easy for kids to loose interest.  A month (one subscription period) is a long time for them.  Kids don't often play every day though.  This is a Thanksgiving holiday weekend and it's been raining & cold - my son has a lot more time this weekend than usual.

There is an area with arcade games.  Playing these games helps refill your potions and gives a bit of gold.  My son has found those games too difficult and doesn't like to play them because of that.  I find them challenging and fun, but not in balance with the rest of the game play.   I'd recommend making them a bit easier and scaling down the rewards. 

Synopsis:  my son loves it - so far.  My girls, ages 5 & 6 find it neat, but aren't interested enough to play.  My wife has been busy doing other stuff (Facebook, Youtube, etc.) but likes the game.  I've been having fun running around with my son doing quests and fighting MOBs.

That's all for now. 



Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/24/08
Posts: 1

12/24/08 3:41:37 PM#20

I have only played mmo's for about 2 years not. WOW is my fav, although I have tried many. My nephew always wants to play WOW but he is still a bit young to really grasp the whole concept of the game. I was keeping him yesterday when I saw the ad for this game and decided to give it a shot. As we were working through the game I realized that I was having just as much fun playing it as him. The game is different than wow but still has a wowish feel at times. I was suprized at the complexity of the game for the targeted audience, however this is a good thing its complex but not too complex. i just expected mindless key tapping or mouse clicking.  kids playing this game will have to use their brains and not just muscle memory.

All in all this is a great package and weather you have kids or not you should check it out

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