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MagicalCube

Magical Cube is a mission-clear style puzzle game.The object of this game is to defeat monsters in battle by using Marie's magic.When 3 Cube is aligned (only same color), Marie's magic is invoked.Marie can deliver a damaging blow to the monster with magic, and when monster's life gone run out, you win!Collect coin, and purchase accessories to make Marie more powerful!

MagicalCube is a puzzle game that takes the PuyoPuyo route by focusing on Marie, a young witch attending a witchcraft and wizardry school who must battle monsters to pass. The wizard Memphis has challenged Marie with seven monsters from around the world, it's up to her to defeat them by matching colored squares if she wants to graduate. Marie and her opponent have a life meter which is depleted by summoning attack magic by matching the tiles and triggering combos. Items are dropped onto the board, and only by removing them can Marie make use of their abilities or negate those of her opponent. In addition, the game will indicate available items in the corner of the screen, giving Marie a boost as she seeks to topple her opponent. Eventually, her Cube gauge will rise, and she'll attack the monster with various spells dictated by matched colored squares.

Marie quickly drags the player into hell as the monsters get ridiculously tough. There's even a brief F.A.Q. in the in-game manual with questions noting how difficult the game is, the advice being to simply upgrade Marie and neutralize the enemy attacks. Well, duh. Unfortunately, the attacks will soon overwhelm the player in later stages. There's simply too much stuff going on -- too many items to collect, too many threats to remove, and the ever annoying locks which block the row and column they sit upon from being shifted. Players can grab coins from the field to buy Marie accessories to wear which will boost her stamina and other abilities, but it's never enough. In later stages it really does feel as if for every one enemy removed from the board, four take its place, and the screen can become so cluttered with items and enemies that shifting the tiles to match becomes an exercise in futility.

Likewise, while it's great to see how each of the monsters have their own unique attacks, their special moves are just too powerful and spoil the simple color matching game at higher levels. I ran into a brick wall on level 3 when Snowman punished me with his special attacks that force the lanes to shift over by two squares, forcing me to completely alter my strategy when looking to match and counter his attacks. Level 5's Golem summons a pyramid when brings movement to a crawl, making it tough to counter the summoned enemies and dismantle the locks when the cursor is dragging so slowly. These specialized attacks would be brilliant if the game weren't so challenging as it is. I really like how these attacks weren't just window dressing, but MagicalCube is just too busy to give players a chance to appreciate the thought and gameplay which went into designing them. Victory appears to be more of a random fluke than anything remotely related to skill or strategy, because in short order Marie will find herself hopelessly responding to enemy threats than actually chasing after a plan of her own.

No game should force players to grind to overcome an obstacle which stands in their way, particular in a puzzle game, but that's exactly what MagicalCube does. Players end up battling the earlier monsters for coins to purchase outfits for Marie to stand a chance against what lies ahead. Marie can be equipped with up to six items including her clothing, each endowing her with some statistical enhancement. These outfits are an absolute must if the player wishes to see the end, but it's a real shame that Marie cannot be customized to the player's liking. Costume 2, a fiery red number, offers a 5% bonus to Marie's hit points, but the green elf-y Costume 3 grants a 7% bonus instead, forcing my hand if I wanted a competitive Marie. There's no sense in buying candy or an axe for her to hold in her left hand since the bonus from the frying-pan outweighs them all. Not every item offers such redundant bonuses, but they still force the player to choose outfits and accessories based on attached bonuses rather than appearance which seems counter-productive for a magical girl game.

It's too bad the gameplay isn't more inviting, because MagicalCube looks fantastic. The effects and detail that went into the game are quite astonishing, from the summoned creatures and items to the characters themselves. Each monster is modeled quite well with lots of animated movements and gestures to bring them to life. The game inhabits the monster's world on each level with changing background to suit the enemy. Everything looks great, and the game even uses Capcom Vs.-style close-up stills for when the monsters bring out the big guns. Everything looks painstakingly modeled all the way down to the filigree on the game board. Marie herself looks and moves just as good, although Developer FixedStarWorks seems to care more about having her breasts sway and jiggle than giving her a facial expression other than the permanent death smile she wears.

MagicalCube is arguably the best looking Xbox Indie game with its crisp 3-D models and beautiful colors and textures. It's just unfortunate that the game isn't more enjoyable. The mechanics are solid and the potential is there, but MagicalCube suffers from its exuberant enemies making the game far to challenging and unpredictable to be genuinely enjoyable to play. I do hope to see more from FixedStarWorks as the Japanese Developer definitely knows its way around XNA and the 360 hardware to produce a wonderful looking game. I only hope its next release is more playable than MagicalCube, a mostly good effort which is definitely worth checking out but a hesitant purchase at its 400 points sales price for all but the most skilled and patient puzzle game fan.

★★★★☆
July 25, 2010
March 9, 2010 | 400 points
Developer | Video | Download

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