September 6th, 2012 | By Mark Isaacson
I’ve always been a fan of puzzle games. Ever since my first true gaming experience back when Nintendo created Tetris for the Old Brick … that’s a Game Boy for those of you playing at home. Lately, though, it’s been harder to find some truly innovative puzzle games on the major consoles, which is one of the reasons I always turn to the iOS and Android platforms for my puzzling fix. And then came Supermagical.
You may recall I chatted to the Super Awesome team recently about the creation of Supermagical itself, among other cool little tidbits, but now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. Is it super? Is it magical? Allow me to explain something first.
Supermagical isn’t just your typical puzzle game. For one, there’s an entertaining story arc involving a young witch named Nina who inadvertently opens up a hole to the underworld, unleashing various critters across the land along with her own evil sisters. You’ll progress through each level to discover the fate of the land, trying to make up for the young one’s error while returning the evildoers back to where they came from.
How do you do that? I’m glad you asked. Imagine a side scrolling play field with numerous evil critters (named Minix) coming towards you (they aren’t really that evil looking, though, more like colourful balls of goo that look like they need a hug … but I digress). To clear the playfield, you’ll fire off similarly coloured balls into the area, where matching three or more of the same colour clears that group from the field. There’s a few twists to that, such as rock minix who can only be cleared by special moves or in-field bombs that appear every once in a while. It’s mainly a Tetris/Puzzle Bobble like tile matcher, so if the critters get too close, it’s game over.
Though you’ll mainly be clearing the play field as quickly as you can, there’s plenty of ways to do so. The aforementioned bombs help, but when they’re not around, you’ll have some team mates who can pitch in with some rather powerful moves, such as a giant monster who scares the critters away from the edge or a giant black hole that sucks your chosen selection away. It’s all very well animated, making each move fun to watch, plus it gives you a breather if the level in question is pushing your timing to the limit.
In between all of that, there’s some extra modes, unlockables, and hidden items to collect across three large maps. Each map has multiple locations with separate shops that allow you to purchase upgrades, ingredients to special potions, and helpful aids such as a sheep that can remove a critter at random. You can also buy candy that will automatically change the colour of the ball you’re about to shoot, which is certainly handy in a tight situation.
I could go on for a while, since there’s a fair amount of content within the game, including humorous boss battles, tile matching mini games, hidden gold to find, not to mention more variations on the tile matching system (puzzle variants and the like). You can’t say you won’t get your money’s worth from Supermagical, the story mode itself will keep you going for some time. Though it must be noted that as of this review, the multiplayer modes haven’t been added as yet, so it’ll be interesting to see what the team comes up with in that area.
I do have a few gripes game play wise. For one, moving across the map early on is a pain. You have to move one space at a time instead of clicking on a location and moving swiftly between levels to get to it. A window kept popping up notifying that you can’t do that until you find a dragon to ride on, which means early level moving is a little painful. I would have preferred simply tapping on a level and having Nina skip along to that location, but I can see why the team designed it that way.
You’ll also need your wits about you as the game progresses with enemy characters pushing forward faster in later levels, meaning timing and accuracy is everything. Younger players may find this difficult at first, and what surprises me is that there isn’t a practice mode of some sort. You can argue that the earlier levels are just that, but a separate mode allowing you to train at your own pace would have been beneficial.
I also found the shop system to be a little awkward. Maybe it was just me, but I never had enough gold to purchase what I needed to buy candies AND potion items AND the handy extras, meaning I had to replay earlier levels to get my total up or play the tile matching mini-game over and over.
Everything has a funny, happy feel to it and though the musical score and the critter voices are fun at first, you may find yourself turning down the music after a while as it can get distracting and a little repetitive over time. That isn’t a complaint though, the music is well made and the sound effects are spot on, but for me, too many crazy noises can put me off my game, making concentration harder to attain. I’m sure the younger crowd this game is built for will eat it up though!
All in all, the high production values and simple but effective control mechanics make Supermagical a winner, and the gripes I’ve got are insignificant compared to the fun I’ve had with the game. I’m still playing through some of the later levels and I’m looking forward to checking out the multiplayer and co-op modes when the time comes. If my time with it so far is anything to go by, they should be a winner too (I’ll revisit the game when that times comes and let you know for sure)!