いれかえまほちゃん

(Maho-chan Irekae)

Replace position magic いれかえまほちゃん! A fixed-screen puzzle game. Your ideas and quick actions needed! Reach an exit! Shoot ★ at the enemy to swap the places! Get the ideas as many and fast as possible to clear the stage within little amount of time limit. This game is the upgraded version of "EXCHANGE POSITION" which was nominated as "XNA Game Studio Japan 2008 Spring Contest".

A quirky Japanese platformer with 50 levels of action which is not by Alpha Secret Base? A challenger appears by the name of Imaginative Technology Land, a new Tokyo-based developer which brings with it an odd little game called Maho-chan Irekae ( listed under いれかえまほちゃん ) featuring a girl who swaps location with various enemies and objects in order to exit the level. Imaginative Technology Land is a professional video game company which services many console businesses according to its website though only lists four developed games to its credit since its 1986 founding: three for the Nintendo DS and this unusual Xbox Live Indie Game.

Maho-chan Irekae is a single screen platformer which has very little in the way of actual platforming action. While Maho can move and jump about as expected, her primary means of getting around is via shooting a star at enemies and objects which will switch her place with that of the target. The vast majority of levels has the player walled into enclosed sections, the only way of advancing being Maho's star firing "replace position magic," a shot which can be fired through any star marked green wall but is blocked by those purple barricades marked with an "X." The player can angle the star shot 45 degrees up or down, and Maho can fire her magic while leaping as well. Maho-chan Irekae is more of a quick thinking action-puzzle game than any traditional platformer as the game is set to a strict timer, forcing players to survey the level and quickly discern the most efficient route to take to the exit, a little golden door located somewhere out of reach. The game's greatest threat during initial attempts will always be its short timer, and although the limitation makes for a tough scoring run, the game does allow players to jump to any of the 50 levels at any point in time which greatly minimizes frustration but also any surprise to be had from later levels by making them accessible from the get-go.

The graphics are simple but suffice with levels constructed with blocks and a half dozen animated enemies and obstacles. Maho-chan is too small to be as cute as her title screen image, and I find the game lacking personality overall. There's just too little time to enjoy the game due to the hurried pace which demands levels beaten anywhere between five and 60 seconds, but then there's also little here to make for a memorable experience. Maho looks stiff when not moving or jumping, her sprite devoid of any frivolous animation we've come to expect to help define a character. Her enemies feel little more than placeholders without much sense of style themselves, being either smiling yellow balls, hornets, spiked disc creatures, or some kind of rat soldier. A couple of boss battles round out the game but feel somewhat out of place as Maho-chan lacks the means to attack enemies, only being able to dispatch threats by switching places with fire and luring an enemy into it. The "replace position magic" makes for an interesting concept, but the execution fails to truly impress. Part of this is due to the repetitive graphics, another is due to the somewhat loose control which can make Maho difficult to position herself correctly as the sensitive control makes the simple act of turning without moving entirely a chore, a nuisance on levels in which the player is forced to make a specific shot amid a group of enemies.

While Maho-chan Irekae does okay as a creative platformer, its execution isn't the best. Considering the average length of the stages hovers around 15-20 seconds, the game is beatable in an hour or so save for some difficulty players may have on the trickier levels or due to fighting the control at times. It's a good game for what it is but mildly disappointing that it lacks the options and polish of the typical Alpha Secret Base release. A welcomed update adds an English option to a game in which language was never a problem, and the game still retains just the single highest score on the settings screen in a contest which doesn't satisfy as a scoring competition. Platformer fans may find enjoyment in Maho-chan Irekae thanks to the unique concept and some nicely designed puzzles, but something about the game feels empty and the experience all too short lived.

★★★☆☆
October 07, 2010
June 18, 2010 | 80 points
Developer | Video | Download

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